It was the facial expressions that told the story of the Ronde. In the immediate aftermath of the race, as soingeurs cleaned off the faces of Cancellara, Sagan and Vanmarcke for their media appearances, you could see the emotions.
Vanmarcke sat with his head tilted back, dazed and exhausted. Cancellara, having just missed a record fourth win at Flanders, appeared sad and philosophical. World champion Peter Sagan looked composed, professional and relaxed.
In fact, what we saw as Sagan crossed the finish line for his first Monument, was a surprising lack for emotion. There were no punches of the air, pounding of the chest or a shout of joy. Considering the years of relentless media pressure and stress, it wouldn’t have been out of character if Sagan had stripped naked and drank an entire bottle of champagne while dancing a Slovakian jig — if there is such a thing.
Oh sure, Sagan still did the obligatory wheelie for the photographers but it didn’t have the same rock and roll flair as usual. Maybe he was just a little tired after battled Cancellara and Vanmarcke for six hours.
In any case, we were impressed with his composure when answering questions minutes after the Ronde. He acted like he was in control — just as he had for the entire race. He didn’t sound surprised, like a big monkey was off his back, like it was a big deal, this massive solo win in Flanders.
In short, he looked and sounded like a guy who expects to win quite a few more Monuments before he’s done. More than that, he looked like a guy who has forgotten about boorish owner Oleg Tinkof and someone looking forward to a nice payday at the end of the year.