Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) had already added his name to the pantheon of greats long before last year, but Paris-Roubaix was one thing that was missing from his glittering palmares. Sagan added that title, and the cobblestone that comes with it, in style with a 54-kilometre attack.
Just over 12 months to the day, Sagan was able to put the icing on the cake of that victory as he was invited to place his name plaque on the showers of the Roubaix velodrome. Still clad in his kit following his recon of the Roubaix course ahead of this year's race, Sagan pressed the plaque onto the concrete stall in the second, back room of the outdoor showers.
Ordinarily, a set-up such as this would be overlooked, but not so when it is combined with the storied history of the French Monument. As Sagan put the plaque up, giving a few swift hits to it to make sure that it stayed put, he joined the likes of Johan Museeuw, Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen, Maurice Gaurin, Fausto Coppi and more.
"It is a big pleasure. I am very happy for that. It is very nice this year that I can put my name here," Sagan said while the flashbulbs of cameras went off as media and fans tried to capture the moment.
The defending champion took a few moments to take photos with some children from a local club, before everyone cleared out and he was able to use his own shower for the first time.
The small ceremony took place on Thursday afternoon after Sagan had completed a recon of the course, starting in Denain shortly before midday. The ride was also an opportunity for Sagan to try out his new Specialized Roubaix on the cobbles. It was a clear day with sunny skies, perfect to take on the cobbles of northern France.
"The recon was OK. It was good weather and I cannot complain," said Sagan. "If we are to train then it is better to do it here."
Sagan comes into this weekend without a win from the Classics so far. He started off well with fourth at Milan-San Remo, but seemed to be struggling in the later stages of the Tour of Flanders. He held onto the group of favourites but could only managed 11th place in the sprint. Paris-Roubaix is a different prospect and it is still all to play for.
Asked if he was ready for the weekend, Sagan gave his usual blunt response. "Well, yes, I should be ready."
Pushed again if he thought he might win at the weekend, "Better not to think," was the response.
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