Impressed by early results, Lombardi regards Sagan as the next Eddy Merckx
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Monday, December 24, 2012

Impressed by early results, Lombardi regards Sagan as the next Eddy Merckx

by VeloNation Press at 10:58 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Former pro believes Cannondale talent can achieve great things

Peter SaganHe’s already been praised by Sean Kelly, who suggested that Peter Sagan could have a stunning career and could even go on to win Grand Tours. Now former professional Giovanni Lombardi has given the Slovakian rider his endorsement, going as far as to refer to him as comparable to the greatest rider of all time.

“He is the new Eddy Merckx for his way of winning everywhere,” Lombardi told ciclismointernacional.com.

The former CSC rider acts as an agent for Sagan and while he clearly has a vested interest in bigging the rider up, it is clear that he is a major talent. Lombardi states he is the best rider in the peloton, clearly thinking of the future in making that claim.

“He is 22 years of age [but] has ridden his first Tour and won the opening stage,” he said. “He took the green jersey, he had a great Classics season and he won stages quickly. He is once of a kind, with a very good progression.”

Sagan took three stage victories in all, equalling the 2013 Tour haul of more experienced sprinters Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel. However he was far ahead of them in the Maillot Vert stakes, with his considerable versatility enabling him to gobble up points on stages where they were left behind.

Lombardi doesn’t see him as comparable to Cavendish, believing that Sagan is slightly slower in straightforward terrain, but a more complete competitor. “They are different. Cavendish is a more specialized sprinter and it is very difficult to beat him on the flat, but in a tougher finish it is sure that Sagan will win,” he said. “In these types of finishes he is without doubt the best in the world.”

The Slovakian will be one of the designated leaders of the Cannondale Pro Cycling team in 2013, assuming a greater importance due to his progression and also because Vincenzo Nibali left for Astana.

Lombardi explains how Sagan will structure his season and what races he will concentrate on.

He envisages two spikes in his form, coming in April and July. “The objectives of Sagan will be the Classics as his first peak, [from] the Tour of Flanders, Liège-Bastogne-Liège to Paris-Roubaix,” he said. “He did cyclocross and mountain bike and won’t have any problems on the pave. I think that he can win a race like Flèche Wallonne easily.

“In the second peak [the aim is to] repeat that in the Tour de France.”

Of the Merckx comparison, he warns that other riders have had huge promise but not lived up to it. However, in making the association in the first place, he clearly has faith in Sagan and believes that if he is given time to develop, can achieve huge things.

“He needs to get Classics and in later years we will then think of the Grand Tours,” he said, explaining their approach. “He is very young and he needs to finish developing physically first.”

If things go to plan, though, he is convinced that the sport will be shaped by his young protégé in years to come.

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