There are few things in sport more thrilling than watching an era-defining talent bludgeon its way into the public consciousness. It happened in the 2008 Tour de France, when Mark Cavendish rocketed across the line in Chateauroux with legs and arms whirring and experts hailing the arrival of a new sprint king. Exactly 15 years earlier, another buccaneering young star, Lance Armstrong, had provoked a similar epiphany with his first Tour stage win in Verdun.
Armstrong was two months short of his 22nd birthday then. Peter Sagan is older - by nine months – but his almost insultingly brilliant stage win on his second day as a Tour de France rider on Sunday, prompted immediate comparisons with the American. That he then followed it up with another on stage 3 just added to the furore.
Even the Liquigas staff couldn't help themselves: the team physiologist Paolo Slongo claimed that, with a bit of work and weight loss, Sagan might one day be contending for victory in major tours.
Is that realistic? Who can say? For now, for sure, we know that Sagan is the most prodigious young thing out there, and a probable dominator of Classics for the next three or four years. His coup de grâce on Sunday rendered superlatives as inadequate as the rivals who floundered on his wheel…
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