They went one-two in the Tour of Flanders and are the top two picks for Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan are clearly the best classics riders of 2016.
But where Cancellara is riding out his final season (and going out on top), Sagan looks to be just getting started — at least where the major classics are concerned. After a string of second-place finishes in 2016, Sagan opened up his account last month at Gent-Wevelgem then nabbed the first monument of his career at the Tour of Flanders. And those come after his world championship victory on a classics-type route in Richmond.
But if Sagan is ascendant in the classics, he’s merely climbed to the level that Cancellara, nine years his senior, has been on for years. While Cancellara never got a road race rainbow jersey to go along with his four time trial world championships, the Swiss legend will go down as one of the best one-day racers in history. He’s won seven monuments, and his 29 days in the yellow jersey put him 12th on the all-time list.
Sagan, of course, now all but owns the Tour’s green jersey, having won it four years and counting.
They’re different riders at different points in their careers, so direct comparisons are impossible. But in the classics, their skillsets overlap in a way that does lend itself to statistics. In 2016, that overlap is playing out in a very exciting way.
Here’s a look.
Fabian Cancellara (Trek – Segafredo)
Height: 6’1” (1.86 m)
Weight: 176 lbs (80 kg)
Years pro: 17
Monument wins: 7
Age for first monument win: 25 (2006 Paris-Roubaix)
Other classics wins: 6 (Strade Bianche, E3)
Road race world championships: 0
Wins in 2016: 4
Race days in 2016: 24
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)
Height: 6’0” (1.84 m)
Weight: 161 lbs (73 kg)
Years pro: 9
Monument wins: 1
Age for first monument win: 26 (2016 Tour of Flanders)
Other classics wins: 4 (GP Montreal, Gent-Wevelgem, E3)
Road race world championships: 1 (2015)
Wins in 2016: 2 (2nd six times)
Race days in 2016: 21