Claudio Chiappucci has issued a stinging attack on today’s professional peloton, arguing that Peter Sagan is a lone example of spirit and charisma in an otherwise dull and metronomic sea of riders.
Sagan, recently crowned world champion, has seen his popularity soar this year, not least thanks to his daring approach to racing and his obvious natural talent, but also because of the quirky interviews, the mountain wheelies, and the Tour de France points jersey trophy used as a mock machine gun. He has certainly found a fan in former Milan-San Remo winner and three-time Tour de France podium finisher Chiappucci, now 52 years old.
“Peter Sagan is the only rider in the peloton who has character. He’s the only one – where there is no personality, just dull machines – who comes off as interesting. He is a great rider, but he also has character and charisma,” said the Italian, according to Ciclo 21.
Chiappucci shares many of those characteristics with Sagan, from the flowing locks to the bravehearted attacking attitude to races. Chiappucci, who was nicknamed ‘El Diablo’, or 'The Devil', for his offensive mindset, is famed for winning a mountain stage of the 1992 Tour de France, going solo from over 200km out. He laments the scarcity of that type of spirit – which he believes applies to Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde as well as Sagan – and feels it is damaging to the sport as a whole.
“All pros nowadays are like machines," he added. "Everything is about paperwork and numbers. Sagan, Contador, and Valverde are the only ones who aren’t like that. They’re cut from the same cloth.
“If you want to get across to people what’s great about this sport, you have to have riders who are prepared to do something different to the others – someone who doesn't just follow wheels. In contrast to my era, things have changed a lot; now the races are much more tactical."