Road racing Gallery: The incredible career of Peter Sagan, one of the all-time greats
Join us as we bid farewell to one of the sport's great showmen, a rider who was capable of so much and entertained so many.
This past weekend, road cycling waved goodbye to one of its all-time greats. At the Tour de Vendée, Slovakia’s Peter Sagan rode his way to a largely inconspicuous ninth place, hopped off his bike, and called time on a remarkable 14 years as a pro racer.
Sagan ends his career with a staggering 121 victories to his name, including:
three consecutive road world titles 12 stage wins at the Tour de France Paris-Roubaix Tour of Flanders 18 stage wins at the Tour de Suisse 17 stage wins at the Tour of California.
Apart from those results (and so many more), Sagan was perhaps best known for his stranglehold on the points classification at the Tour de France. He won green in all seven Tours he finished between 2012 and 2019 – an-all time record. No rider has spent more days in green at the Tour than Sagan (a total of 130).
The Slovakian was a true
showman, a rider capable of extraordinary feats on the bike, and one who was supremely entertaining to watch. While it’s been a few years now since he was at his world-beating best, he’ll surely be missed by anyone who had the privilege of seeing him race in his heyday.
So as Sagan leaves the road behind and turns his attention back to mountain biking, join us as we pay tribute to one of the greatest road cycling has ever seen.
A year before joining his first Continental road team, Sagan (left) was on the podium in the junior men’s race at Cyclocross Worlds. Can you name the winner and bronze medalist without looking them up? Sagan joined the WorldTour in 2010 with Liquigas-Doimo. He didn’t have to wait long for his first win. He won not one but two stages at his first Paris-Nice. Sagan’s first stage race of 2011, the Giro di Sardegna, saw him win three of the five stages, and the race overall. The Tour of California would be a happy hunting ground for Sagan throughout his career. Here he is winning in 2011. He won a total of 17 stages at the now-defunct race – easily the most of any rider. The Tour de Suisse was even more successful for Sagan. He won a total of 18 stages there throughout his career, including stage 3 (pictured here) and stage 8 in 2011. Sagan won two stages at the 2011 Tour of Poland … … and the race overall – his first WorldTour GC win. In his first Grand Tour, the 2011 Vuelta a España, Sagan won no fewer than three stages, including stage 12 pictured here. Sagan started 2012 in strong form, winning a stage of the Tour of Oman before heading to Tirreno-Adriatico where he also won a stage (pictured here). The 2012 Tour of California was a Sagan masterclass. The Slovakian won five of the eight stages (including the first four), the points classification, and led the race for four days. The 2012 Tour de Suisse was no less impressive. There Sagan won the prologue time trial … … then three of the eight road stages to take out the points classification. Sagan went to his first Tour de France in 2012 and promptly won three stages. He won the first road stage … … then stage 3 … … and finally stage 6 … … to secure his first of seven green jerseys at the Tour. Sagan snagged two stage wins at the 2013 Tour of Oman … … then two stage wins, both in the rain, at Tirreno-Adriatico. In March 2013 he took his biggest one-day win yet: Gent-Wevelgem, where he celebrated with a trademark wheelie at the finish. More success followed in April with a win at Brabantse Pijl over world champ Philippe Gilbert. More success followed at the Tour of California where Sagan won another two stages and the points classification. He did the same at the Tour de Suisse too: two stage wins, and the points classification. Sagan managed ‘just’ the one stage win at the 2013 Tour de France … … but with a bunch of close finishes, and some time up the road searching for points, it was enough for an easy victory in the points classification. Remember the USA Pro Challenge? Sagan won four of the seven stages (plus the points jersey, naturally) in 2013. North America brought more success in late 2013, with Sagan winning three of five stages of the Tour of Alberta (plus the points classification), before taking out the GP de Montréal (pictured here). A new season brought more success at the Tour of Oman … … and another stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico. And then in late March, Sagan took another big one-day win: E3 Harelbeke in Belgium. He headed back to the Tour of California where he won another stage … … and again won a stage and the points jersey at the Tour de Suisse. It was becoming a familiar pattern by now. Despite taking nine top-five finishes at the 2014 Tour, Sagan couldn’t manage a stage win. He did win green again though. The 2015 season saw Sagan move from Cannondale to the Tinkoff-Saxo team, run by eccentric billionaire Oleg Tinkov. Tirreno-Adriatico again delivered success for the Slovakian champion, who won a stage and the points jersey. The 2015 Tour of California would be Sagan’s greatest showing at the race. He finished second on the first three stages, won the fourth (pictured here) … … then won the stage 6 ITT which moved him into the overall lead with two stages remaining. Sagan rode one of the best climbs of his career on Mt. Baldy the following day, finishing sixth, which put him second overall, just two seconds behind Mt. Baldy stage winner Julian Alaphilippe. Bonus seconds on the final day, in which Sagan finished third … … were enough to give Sagan the overall victory at the Tour of California for the only time in his career. Another Tour de Suisse, another two stage wins and the points classification. If Sagan’s 2014 Tour was defined by its near misses, 2015 was even more remarkable. The Slovakian finished inside the top 5 on 10 of the 21 stages, including five runner-up finishes, all without winning a stage. Again, he didn’t go home empty-handed though. Sagan returned to the Vuelta in August 2015 and won stage 3. Fast forward to late September 2015 and Sagan was taking perhaps the biggest result of his career. At the Richmond World Championships, Sagan rode away on a late, steep climb to take the rainbow jersey. Sagan took his first win in rainbows at the 2016 Gent-Wevelgem … … before heading to the Tour of Flanders the following week. He surged clear late … … and ultimately won De Ronde solo – another big one-day win on his ever-expanding palmares. Another two stage wins and the points classification came Sagan’s way at the Tour of California … … before another two stage wins (but no points classification!) at the Tour de Suisse. At the 2016 Tour de France, Sagan got back to winning. He took stage 2 in the rainbow jersey … … won stage 11 from a bizarre, late-race breakaway that included overall leader Chris Froome … … and then won the stage 16 sprint into Bern, Switzerland … … to wrap up yet another green jersey. Sagan skipped the road race at the Rio Olympics, saying the course was too hilly for him. Ultimately, one of his big rivals, Greg Van Avermaet – whom Sagan had frequently had the measure of – ended up winning the race. Sagan, meanwhile, raced the MTB event at Rio, and was right at the pointy end on the opening lap. A puncture at the start of lap 2 scuppered his chances of a medal. Back on the road, Sagan won the GP de Quebec … … then won the European Championships road race, ensuring the blue and white jersey wouldn’t be seen for a whole year. Sagan won two stages and the points classification at the 2016 Eneco Tour … … before heading to the Worlds road race in Doha where he won the bunch sprint to take back-to-back world titles. 2017 brought a move to Bora-Hansgrohe, and another big early-season one-day win: Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Another two stage wins and the points classification were Sagan’s at Tirreno-Adriatico … … before this remarkable sprint finish at the end of Milan-San Remo. Sagan was second to Michał Kwiatkowski in what was his second runner-up finish at the Italian Monument. Sagan never won the race during his career. The Tour of California meant another stage win and points classification victory for Sagan. It was a familiar story at the Tour de Suisse where Sagan notched another two stage wins and another points jersey. The 2017 Tour de France was a dramatic one for Sagan. He won stage 3 … … but in one of the biggest stories of the year, was disqualified the following day for his part in a sprint crash at the end of stage 4. Sagan returned to racing sans flowing locks, at the Tour of Poland later that month. He won the opening stage (and the points classification, naturally) … … before doing the same at the BinckBank Tour (where he also won stage 3). Sagan again won the GP de Quebec (his 100th win as a pro) … … before sprinting to a third-straight world title in Bergen, Norway. The 2018 season started with a win at the Tour Down Under, before another victory at Gent-Wevelgem (pictured here). And then came another monumental win, at the 2018 Paris-Roubaix. Sagan got away in a group of two with Silvan Dillier … … before handily beating the Swiss rider in the sprint. While he didn’t win at the 2018 Tour of California, Sagan did win a stage and points classification at the Tour de Suisse. Here’s Sagan winning the Slovakian road championship in 2018. Between 2011 and 2022, Sagan won the title eight times, with his brother Juraj winning the other four. A win on stage 2 of the 2018 Tour de France … … gave Sagan a day in yellow. He wore it for three stages in 2016 as well. But he was soon back in green, and soon winning stage 5. He also won stage 13 … … giving him another green jersey a year after being disqualified from the race. His sixth points classification win drew him level with all-time record holder Erik Zabel. Sagan was a regular competitor at the post-Tour criteriums, including the 2018 Aalst crit in Belgium. Sagan returned to the Tour Down Under in 2019 and again won a stage. She certainly wasn’t alone. After going winless between January and May 2019, Sagan won the opening stage of the Tour of California. And then it was back to the Tour de Suisse where he won another stage and points jersey. Sagan was already in green when he won stage 5 of the 2019 Tour de France … … and he was in green when the race ended in Paris too. It would be his seventh and final points classifcation win, taking the all-time record. The COVID-affected 2020 season was not kind to Sagan. He only took one win for the year, but that win was spectacular. On stage 10 of his debut Giro d’Italia (held in October rather than May), Sagan was wonderfully aggressive, and eventually got away on his own. The win was Sagan’s first in 15 months, and his first Giro stage win. Sagan snagged a stage win at the Volta a Catalunya early in 2021 … … then likewise at the Tour de Romandie … … before returning to the Giro d’Italia and again winning stage 10, this time in a bunch sprint. He’d go on to win the points classification, which he celebrated in Milan with his son Marlon. Sagan’s next win would come on home soil: at the Tour of Slovakia. He finished 10th in the prologue ITT (pictured here), before four podium finishes in the race’s road stages gave him the overall title. In 2022 Sagan moved to TotalEnergies where he netted just one victory: a stage at the Tour de Suisse. It would be the last victory of his professional road career. Sagan would race his final season in 2023, again with TotalEnergies. He appeared to be a man who’d fallen out of love with road racing, and who was ready for a new challenge. That new challenge: a return to MTB, the discipline that first got him into cycling. He’ll race with Specialized Factory Racing in 2024 where he’ll be hoping to qualify for the Paris Olympics. All the best on the dirt, Peter, and thanks for all the memories! What did you think of this story?
😐Meh 😊️Solid 🤩Excellent