EDMONTON, Alberta (VN) – It was a telling sign. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) was powering his way up the short but steep climb in Tuesday’s Tour of Alberta prologue, a climb that saw the majority of his rivals out of the saddle at various points along the way.
Sagan was seated. Firmly, powerfully, and absolutely. He didn’t come out of the saddle until the very top of the climb, an exclamation point on the way to a scorching, 13-second victory over just 7.3 kilometers that begged the question: Is there anything, at this point, that he can’t do?
“Long time trials I can’t do, but maybe in the future,” Sagan said, sporting a sly grin and yet another cheesy cowboy hat to join those he wore after winning four stages at the USA Pro Challenge last month.
“Also,” he said, “the long climbs and the general classification are hard for me because I’m very fat.”
Add perfect comic timing to the growing list of Sagan’s strengths.
It was the 23-year-old’s second major prologue victory, the other coming last year on a similar 7.3km course in Lugano at the Tour de Suisse. On that day he beat heavy favorite Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) by four seconds but lost the leader’s jersey when two hors categorie climbs got in the way the next day.
No such vertical obstacles exist in Alberta, where the series of mostly flat road stages begins Wednesday with a 158km trek from Strathcona County to Camrose. Fanciful peloton talk before Tuesday night already wondered if Sagan could run the table by winning the prologue and all five stages. Now, barring calamity or wind-driven weirdness that keeps him from this week’s sprint finishes, it will at the very least be difficult to remove his yellow leader’s jersey.
Sagan’s power over the rest of the field is that simple, as is the relative simplicity in how he described a prologue effort almost totally in the saddle.
“I was in this position on the flat, and when I took the climb I tried to remain in the saddle, to push the power,” he said “I train to climb in the saddle, the seat, for my maximum. I feel better in the seat.”
The driver’s seat.