With just over a week to go until the UCI Road World Championships begin in Innsbruck, Peter Sagan could be in the final few days of his three-year streak in the rainbow jersey. Since the Slovak first held the road world title in 2015, he has become cycling's most bankable and most blockbuster star. He's the sport's rock star who always delivers, whether he's winning races or not.
Procycling met with Sagan this summer, in one of the increasingly rare exclusive interviews the 28-year-old gives, in the middle of a season where he won a long-awaited Paris-Roubaix title and a record-equalling sixth green jersey at the Tour de France. But beneath all the jokes, the bike trickery and the videos posted, Sagan is becoming ever more elusive almost in equal trajectory to his increasing fame.
As well as discussing his Bora-Hansgrohe team, which was set up almost entirely around him, and his love of America, Sagan gives a glimpse to Procycling's deputy editor Sam Dansie, of the pressure he lives under in the spotlight.
"Now with all the travelling and races I don't even know where I am," he says. "I stay in a hotel and I don't know if it's Belgium or America or France. It's too much."
From the current superstar in cycling, to the sport's next big thing, Egan Bernal, hotly tipped as the Grand Tour winner of the future after his MVP performance for Team Sky at the Tour de France in July. Still only 21, the young Colombian climber is in his first season in the WorldTour but has already won the Colombia Oro y Paz and Tour of California GCs, finished third in the Tour of Romandie and came within a stage of finishing runner-up overall at the Tour of Catalonia before he crashed out.
Yet it was Bernal's role as mountain domestique to Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome in France which really sent the young protégé's profile sky-high. Alasdair Fotheringham went to meet Bernal, to hear about his development and find out how successful he could be.
Bernal is one of a host of young Colombian riders who are blazing a trail for the South American country in cycling, along with Ivan Sosa and Fernando Gaviria. Patrick Fletcher speaks to the coach, the scout, agent and team managers who are all responsible for helping find and bring some of the country's top talents to race in Europe. They share how they found some of today's biggest riders, what qualities they look for and what challenges they face in moving across the world to race.
Fresh from his victory in the polka dot jersey competition at the Tour de France, Julian Alaphilippe carried his form straight to the Basque Country where he won the Clasicá San Sebastian just a week later. The warm one-day Spanish race is the perfect post-Tour antidote, calmer and free of the mania and bustle of the summer's grand tour. Photographer Chris Auld was there for Procycling, to capture the beauty and action of the race.
The Arctic Race of Norway is one of the most remote races on the European calendar, taking place above the Arctic Circle this summer. Now in its sixth year, the 2018 race ventured even further west and even more north into some of Norway's most isolated regions, taking cycling to undiscovered frontiers no other sporting events can reach. Thanks to its spectacular scenery of lush forests, rocky coastlines and grey seas, it's easy to see why the four-stage race is typically touted as the most beautiful in the world, but as Sophie Hurcom discovered, the race is also a good bedding ground for young, upcoming riders.
Taylor Phinney and Joe Dombrowski are two of the stalwarts of American cycling in the WorldTour. Both were highly rated from a young age, and both have found their home at EF Education First-Drapac the last few seasons. Sam Dansie sat down with the duo to discuss their different paths to the top tier of cycling, philosophise about success and hear how their outside interests give them a different perspective on their sport.
At the end of last year, the newly formed Cycling Alliance released a survey from riders in the women's peloton that startlingly revealed how low the salaries in the sport can be, if the riders get paid at all. Sophie Hurcom speaks to those inside the peloton about the reality of life as a professional rider when you earn little money, as well as the people who are trying to bring a positive change to the sport.
In this month's Retro, William Fotheringham rewinds to 1983 when Greg LeMond, then a bright, young, upcoming star of the peloton, won his debut road world title. Then just 22, the victory confirmed the American as one of the big future prospects in the sport – indeed he would go on to win the Tour de France three times and the rainbow jersey again six years later. But the win was not without its struggles first, including in-fighting in the American team and LeMond suffering repeated crises of confidence.
Plus, all the regular features and analysis from the last month of racing, the latest products in cycling and an update from our diarists; Dan Martin, Dylan Teuns, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Steve Cummings.
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