Lombardi suggests Sagan could become ‘a future Eddy Merckx’
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Saturday, November 03, 2012

Lombardi suggests Sagan could become ‘a future Eddy Merckx’

by VeloNation Press at 1:00 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Former pro enthuses about rider’s versatility and strength

Peter SaganAlready tipped for the top and possibly even for overall Grand Tour success by Sean Kelly, Peter Sagan has received another glowing endorsement. This time, the superlatives are even greater, with former pro Giovanni Lombardi suggesting that the Slovakian could even approach the feats of the best rider of all time: Eddy Merckx.

Lombardi coaches the 22 year old wunderkind and has watched him develop year on year. His steady progression and the fact that he has many seasons of improvement left ahead means that Lombardi is confident great things could be in store.

“What he has achieved at his age is amazing,” he told Cyclism’Actu. “In 22 years, he has already ridden his first Grand Tour and has even won several stages. He has even won the points classification. What it lacks is a big Classic, but I'm sure it will not take long.”

Physically, he’s confident that he will keep improving. However he does have one concern. “He is still very young and still needs to grow physically. He must pay attention in terms of his mentality, because with all he has won at his age, it is dangerous; it is possible to lose motivation.

Apart from his successful debut Tour, Sagan has also won three stages in the 2011 Vuelta a España, taken overall success in that year’s Tour de Pologne and Giro di Sardegna, and also scooped stages in Paris-Nice, the Tour de Suisse, Tirreno-Adriatico, the Tour de Romandie and the Tour of Oman.

Earlier this year he clocked up five stage wins in the Tour of California, giving another example of his sprinting speed.

For Kelly, Sagan’s versatility is the most impressive aspect. “I was expecting him to win stages in Belgium, in Seraing, on some of the uphill finishes where it kicks up in the last two or three kilometres,” he told VeloNation just after the Tour de France. “But winning a flat stage there against Greipel and the other pure sprinters was impressive.

“Then he went on to ride so well on the day he was in the break. The other guys were trying to blow him out on the climb; Luis Leon Sanchez tried to distance him, but it didn’t happen. Sagan got into his pace and worked away. We could see then that he was really strong, because he came right back at them. That was impressive.”

He said that in addition to the natural progression he will make as he gets older, Sagan has further room to improve. Kelly believes he can lose three or four kilos, and that this will make a big difference to his climbing ability.

“If you are three kilos over, it will really catch you on the long climbs. You can climb for five or six kilometres, but when it is fifteen or eighteen kilometres, that is where it really comes back at you. What he needs to do is look after himself better. He needs to be put in the Wiggins diet and, if he does that, he will be consistently better on the big climbs.”

Lombardi also emphasises the versatility aspect. “He is very competitive on time trial stages; you could see that in the Tour de Suisse [where he beat Fabian Cancellara to win the hilly prologue – ed.] He also has a beautiful burst of speed...he was able to compete with Mark Cavendish, and that’s not a small thing. He also manages well on the finishes for puncheurs [short, steep ramps].

“Ultimately, he is the best cyclist in the world…the most complete. A future Eddy Merckx!”
 

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