Peter Sagan crossed the line first (again), telling all his critics to…do the running man, as he won without the aid of the Fabulous Canellara. Actually, Sagan was so dominant, without following sucking wheels, that he had time to look back, then celebrate in the final meters.
Sagan is showing that he may indeed be the full package, able to win (kinda, more in a minute) in a bunch sprint — as we saw in Cali. He’s able to make it over climbs in a favorable position, though we have yet to see how he does in the high mountains. He can also TT moderately well, as we saw at Tour de Suisse. It is worth noting that all of his bunch sprint finishes have come while most of the better dedicated sprinters were racing the Giro. That’s not to take away from the fact that Sagan is proving capable of winning nearly anywhere. A fact that has Phil saying he’s the next Eddy Merkcx.
This declaring of great athletes to be the next whoever isn’t unique to cycling, it happens everywhere. We can’t help but judge heroes in the making by the heroes of the past. However we should blunt the instinct to compare and just accept the fact that they aren’t near the same athlete. This constant comparing against the past does a disservice to the athletes who are working hard to establish themselves as themselves. This could be (aside from youth) the main reason for Sagan’s totally ridiculous victory salutes. Which I love by the way — panda, then a chicken — who thinks of that!?
There will never be another Merkcx, the times are different, the riders are different, and the racing is different. A multitude of factors would have to change for a rider to take all three jerseys, or be competitive year round. I mean actually competitive, not just the journalist thinking such and such has a shot. Sagan is not the next Eddy Merkcx. There will never be another Eddy Merkcx. Peter Sagan is the first Peter Sagan.