Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Saturday 25 February 2017
It was the first Classic of the Season, a chance to test winter training plans or at least get schooled as part of an exclusive offer open to all 198 other starters: learning to ride an Omloop like Peter Sagan.
In the end five riders took him up on it, the only requirement being that they keep up. Failure to do so meant free lessons in how to suffer slowly and over long distances several kilometers back.
The lessons were crammed into the last 70km of the race, the main one being how to race from the front, which is where Sagan remained for longer than he really wanted.
With 50km to race Sagan literally dragged his group of six up some cobbles, elbowing, then gesturing for them to take a turn up front, dammit. None could. Showing remarkable restraint, the gestures didn’t become obscene.
The second lesson was something in the order of “ride faster than anyone else”. It’s the essential law of winning bike races, which Sagan knows a bit about, and consists of speeding up when everyone else is ignoring your obscene gestures.
This also included taking corners at speeds faster than reasonably expected, which allowed Sagan to demonstrate how skilled he was at recovering from.
All of which took place with Sagan looking windswept with beard and ponytail. Fittingly, his Fizik saddle, with groove down the middle allowed the motorcycle headlights, when behind him, to shine through, flashing the notion, just for a second that the sun shone out of his testicles.
None of which earned Sagan the win. He may have been the strongest rider, but, as he admitted, he didn’t have the legs. Greg Avermaet had saved his, successfully defending his title. He’d had to race smart, he’d said, but also “It’s fun to race with him if you can keep up.”
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