Can you believe it, it’s been a year already and the Rainbow Jersey is back and it’s up for grabs!
A mere 12 months ago were jumping for the clouds and cheering our lungs out, as the Lion that is Peter Sagan, broke away and stole the show. No, he didn’t just steal it, he made it.
With an already unforgettable season in 2015, he was still be entered for the youth categories, the man fondly called a ‘FastVak’ , a nod to his Slovakian heritage, sealed his career high with the elite Road Race Champion’s Rainbow Jersey.
A touch of class – winning the 2016 World Road Race Championships in Richmond, Virginia, USA
The Curse is Lifted
You’ll need no reminding that as lifted as everyone is for Peter Sagan’s success, the fact is, the Rainbow Jersey is a heavy colour to carry. As illustrated by illustrious world champions before him, such as Rui Costa, Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd have all shown: it is thrawted with jealousy, bullying, and constant scrutiny of competing teams and fickle cycling fans. Yet, this world champion has somehow, with a lot of hard work no doubt, has surpassed expectations, earning respect from the field and adoration from the crowds.
Movement – Sagan, coming through gaps that were’nt there to begin with.
Is the FastVak racing in Doha?
Up till now entry details have been sketchy. It has, after all, been a busy racing calander, with some days notching up to 3 pro-races at any one time. And with riders being away from family and home for months on end, it comes as no surprise that Sagan doesn’t have to say he’s tired, we can see he is.
Sagan keeping us in suspense, but not for much longer.
The next race is at Doha, Qatar
This is as far removed from Richmond, Virginia as you can get. On the cards is a challenging course of 3 tests: firstly, the heat, it’s upwards of 40 degrees-celcius at this time of year, and the race has been put forward as late as possible to the coolest possible time. So hot in fact, that some pros aren’t wearing socks, which you may not know is a big faux-pax. Next up, is the winds; much like Oman, the exposed roads of Qatar often savagely splits the peloton, and that means positioning is everything. Finally, the technical aspect; besides the open, deserte strewn roads, once back into town, there are up to 20 round-abouts per lap to contend with. Talk about serious street furniture.
The Team Time Trial kicks off the racing on this Sunday 9 October, followed by the mens and womens elite on Sunday 16. Bookending the weekend, racing continues with the U23 races. A full schedule can be found here.
Meanwhile, the race starts in Doha, Qatar.
We don’t think Peter Sagan’s late entry means he’s attending just to make up the numbers, but there’s good reason for him not to have his heart in it. His current season is ending with a huge professional high, but this wasnt’ how his season started. He was the unlikley recipient of taunting from his team manager, Olev Tinkoff, until his flurry of wins materialised. Now that the team is folding, Sagan may want to set his sights on developing the new team and not have the added weight of the rainbow on his back.
Doha is flat, which means we shouldn’t ignore the sprinters. Naturally, we’d back Mark Cavendish, but the Manx-Missle is truly on form as we saw from The Tour, and what better way to wrap up an equally succssful season then revisiting the world champs which he has won before. The likes of Bryan Coquard of France, Dylan Groenewegen of the Netherlands, and the German trio of Andre Greipel, John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel will make for a worthy battle on the roads.
A big favourite will Belgian hero, Tom Boonen. His coming retirement may be on the horizon, but there’s no doubting his prowess as an expert cyclist, but also his experience in making the right moves in the big races. At last year’s championships he broke away and led a group close to the end, and at the Roubaix he did the very same till he was nipped at the line by Matt Hayman.
Update, 12 October :: Look out for Fernando Gavaria – The Columbians got this covered:
The Low Down
With all the big guns coming, it’s going to busy out on the sands.
*What’s your take on this year’s championships? Share your thoughts below…