The oddness of Peter Sagan

April 5, 2013

Does your life revolve around bicycle-related activities, such as blaming yourself for not riding as fast as you would like, or squinting for hours at shonky feeds of obscure European races? Then congratulations – the essence of your character and the sense of perspective you once had on your life have been forever warped by the ever-spinning world of Planet Bicycle.

You’re not alone, though, because there is another group of people who are completely immersed in cycling. They’re called professional cyclists. And I think their greatest skill is disguising how weird cycling has made them – until, that is, their weirdness finds a means of expressing itself at an inopportune moment, such as the podium of the Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday.

peter sagan bottom pinching

Peter Sagan is a 23-year-old man who believes crossing the finishing line first is the most important thing he can do with his life. It isn’t – not for him, nor for any human being – but that’s what every podium contender conditions themselves to think, otherwise the job becomes impossible to do. A consequence of single-mindedness is leaving more important areas of your personality under-developed; in Sagan’s case, it’s the part that tells you goosing a stranger’s arse, especially doing it so publically, shows about as much respect as urinating against the leg of the host town’s dignitary.

Hived off in the cycle of training and competition, sports stars are paid an awful lot of money to not be normal, yet we criticise them when they don’t behave like regular, well-adjusted human beings. I’m fairly certain I would never deliver an unsolicited grope to a stranger’s arse, and I think you would say much the same thing. But we’re cycling fans – in each of our own ways we’re all a bit odd, so we can surely empathise with oddness. We did it with Cadel, and once all the hoo-ha dies down, I think we’ll do it with Sagan.

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