My picks for this season have not let me down in the panache department! Mr Peter Sagan has been dominating the headlines with both wins and idiotic behavior (hello, Pinch-gate). Thomas Voeckler, has continued his display of 1,000 grimaces while showing he is still one of the most scrappy riders in the peloton. And then there’s Dutch national champion Niki Terpstra who has had some solid results with his cursed classics Omega Pharma-Quick Step team.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
- 1st at Gent–Wevelgem.
- 1st at Gran Premio Città di Camaiore.
- Won two stages at Tour of Oman.
- Won two stages at Tirreno–Adriatico.
- Won one stage at Three Days of De Panne.
- 2nd at Strade Bianche.
- 2nd at Milan-San Remo.
- 2nd at E3 Harelbeke.
- 2nd at Ronde van Vlaanderen.
WorldTour ranking: 2nd, 312 pts.
2012 showed us that Peter Sagan was a dominating force as he racked up stage wins for fun at the Tour of California, Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France. Many called it the ‘Summer of Sagan’.
In 2013, Sagan has cemented his reputation as ‘the Terminator’. During the Tour of Oman and Tirreno-Adriatico, he racked up four stage wins. But the spring classics revealed what kind of dominating rider Sagan has become as he won Gent-Wevelgem and was second in four other races: Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo, E3 Harelbeke and the Tour of Flanders. This week he added another win at Brabantse Pijl – his eighth victory of the season, moving him ahead of Mark Cavendish as the most successful rider so far this season.
I knew I had struck gold when I landed Sagan as one of my riders to follow throughout the year. Could this turn out to be the ‘Season of Sagan’? Anyone brave enough to bet against it?
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar)
- 5th at Dwars door Vlaanderen.
- 14th at Brabantse Pijl.
WorldTour ranking: N/A, 0 pts.
We are just beginning the time in the season when Thomas Voeckler shines. He’s a man made for races like the Ardennes classics and Europcar has publicly stated that those are his targets this year. For the last two years he has performed at the highest level in the Tour de France. In 2011 he held the maillot jaune from stage 10 to 19. Last year he was resplendent in polka dots as he claimed the mountains classification.
He did show some early good form and real toughness in the cobbled classics where he was ten metres away from winning Dwars door Vlaanderen with a solo attack before Sky’s Ian Stannard chased him down. We thought we were witnessing another ‘Voeckler moment’ but it was not to be.
Europcar is not a WorldTour team, so I don’t get to see as much of Tommy V as I would like. I really enjoy the spontaneous attacks and wonderful grimacing faces that he makes when suffering. I hope to see many of the thousand faces of Voeckler during the Ardennes and in person when I attend the 100th Tour de France in July!
Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
- 1st at Six Days of Rotterdam (with Iljo Keisse).
- Won team time trial at Tirreno–Adriatico.
- 3rd overall at Three Days of West Flanders.
- 3rd overall at Three Days of De Panne.
- 3rd at Paris-Roubaix.
WorldTour ranking: 23rd, 70 pts.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step is built to dominate the classics but lady luck seems to have abandoned the team in 2013 with Tom Boonen suffering a broken rib at the Ronde and the OPQS lead-out train failing to work well together in support of sprint superstar Mark Cavendish. Dutch national champion Niki Terpstra has been in the midst of all of the action but has failed to return to winning ways like he did last year when he won Dwars door Vlaanderen with a solo attack.
Despite not being atop the podium, Niki has seen the podium multiple times during the classics with a third place finish in support of Sylvain Chavanel’s victory at Three Days of De Panne and a very impressive third place at the Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix.