Mur-de-Bretagne - France - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -   Peter Sagan (Team Tinkoff Saxo)  pictured during  le Tour de France 2015 - stage 8 - from Rennes to Mur-de-Bretagne on saturday 11-07-2015 - 181,5 KM - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2015
  • MattHurst

    Big balls indeed.

  • Sean Doyle

    I would have thought big balls would be a hindrance. You’d have to stand up all the time.

    Interesting article. My head hurts now of course.

  • Abdu

    In that video of Sagan’s descent, watch how the IAM Cycling rider (Pantano Gomez) has to pedal hard just to stay on Sagan’s tail (while Sagan is tucked very low, not pedalling), then at 1.15 Sagan stretches the gap just enough, he disappears momentarily around a bend and the elastic is snapped. The gap quickly grows as Pantano Gomez mentally is sapped. Whether he knows it or not, tactically that is a great move. Awesome.

    • Michele

      I started watching it. But as soon as I heard the dolce tones of John Paul Young I switched off.

      Seriously, who does that?!?!?!?

      I’ve seen that video before; it’s truly magnificent, some of the best racing footage you can find. The original footage has just crowd and bike sound affects, And the sound of speed. No commentators, nothing. It’s brilliant.

      And then some tosser does that. I really hope it wasn’t you Abdul :)

      UPDATE: here’s the footage; does go for 6 minutes. But well worth it.

    • Nope

      Jarlinson Pantano Weight: 61 kg
      Peter Sagan Weight: 73 kg

      There’s your reason. I’m not saying Sagan can’t descend, but 8kg is a big deficit to make up on a descent.

      • JJ

        Good pickup. Nibali is 65kg. Cadel was about 65kg too.
        Question, do you think there is a minimum or optimum weight for ‘fast’ descending? Are there any ‘big’ fast descenders?

        • Nope

          The bigger you are, the faster you can potentially go down hill (depending on the terrain of course – road quality, curviness, steepness, etc.). I’m not saying you can’t be a good descender if you only weigh 65kg. I’m saying a 61kg guy is going to have a very hard time staying on the wheel of a 73kg guy, all else being equal.

          • Wookie

            As a bigger bloke, agreed. Sure you can drop like a stone on a straight descent, but smaller riders have a lower centre of gravity, so a really twisty road with serious corners can actually be harder for heavier riders. One of the super impressive things about THAT descent from Sagan is the ways he hangs it through the corners – probably picking up 2 seconds every time…

        • xrider3464


        • xrider3464

          Sean Yates was an absolute nutcase from all accounts….

          • 42x16ss

            As was Virenque

            • JJ

              thin riders are more aero, which might not totally make up for gravity but when you get to speeds like 80kph aero resistance is pretty massive.

  • choppy

    “Peter Sagan and Simpson’s Paradox: How the ‘worst’ sprinter keeps winner the green jersey” is that a typo (winner vs winning) or are you mocking Sagan’s broken English? Not cool if the latter.

    • oops! Thanks for the correction. We modified the title slightly and missed the following words

  • Roger That

    In an era of marginal gains, heart rate monitors, power outputs, campertrailers and coached ‘professional interview responses’ it’s so good to have Sagan around. He, as always, made the Tour for me. He is one fantastically talented, super-strong goofball. All power to him. More please.

  • John

    I can remember back to 2009 when Thor was doing the same thing to Cavendish in the green jersey race, not winning stages but collecting points where he could and maintaining consistent place finishes. I recall at the time some frustration from the media and cycling fans in general that the best sprinter (Cav) wasn’t winning the green jersey. To me it appears that Sagan is now doing the same thing to better sprinters but until this article no one had raised the issue again

    • BenW

      This is all true; however, the thing is it’s not “The sprinter’s jersey” but “the Points Jersey”. The breakdown of the points and where they’re awarded show it rewards consistency, rather than sprinting and this has been the case regardless of how they arrange the points distribution and is why Mark Cavendish only has one green jersey to his name (2011, after a rejig of the scoring system), despite multiple victories most years (5 in 2010 and he still lost, for instance).

      • Dave

        Consider also that Cav has failed to finish a number of times, a couple when he was pulled out for the Olympics and a couple due to crashing.

        From memory, he also could have won in one or two years when he did finish the three weeks but picked up too many point penalties along the way for illegal sprinting and OTL stage finishes.

  • Joel

    Interesting stuff but you fail to refer to is his willingness to smash himself and suffer when a jersey is up for grabs. Different ‘tour’ but California this year his effort on the major mountain stage made me sit up and notice that. Also, don’t forget he was getting no support from his team in Le Tour who were all riding for Contador. Whose to say he couldn’t outsprint Greipel if he had Greipel’s train. The guy is frankly capable of anything. Ronde is a different race and anyone who can come top 5 in that race is something very special indeed. Kristoff was unbeatable on that parcours. Having sat in the booth next to Sagan at the Park Hotel in Kortrijk this year I wouldn’t blame him if he was distracted by the very tidy company he was keeping. Think Supermodel and you’re not far off.

    • I saw both Sagans ability to use lots of energy (smash himself) in many stages, and very little team support /no lead out train mentioned in the article.

  • Steel

    Fantastic analysis.

    I think like Federer you could also factor in the way opponents change their games against Sagan. With Federer, opponents red line their games hoping to either crash or conquer. With Sagan, break away rivals often don’t work with him knowing that he’ll be stronger on the line. Alternatively Sagan is marked strongly in finishes that suit him.

    Unlike a pure sprinter like Kittel he doesn’t have the knock out blow of just being the fastest or a pure strong man like Cancellara of being able to solo to a win so he often collects seconds and thirds.

    He’s still the most entertaining rider to watch in the bunch in my opinion.

  • Michele

    Interesting article; some great analysis, and I did enjoy it.

    However, whilst the sprinters might like to claim the Green Jersey as a Sprinters jersey. It isn’t. It’s a points classification.

    A review of how the points are distributed; 50 for a win on a flat stage, 30 on a mid-mountain and 20 on a high mountain etc., demonstrates the classification will always reward consistency over ‘pure sprinting’ stage wins.

    Thor has won two Green Jerseys; he wasn’t the fastest sprinter in either of those years he won it. He wasn’t even the second fastest, nor the third. Granted he did net a stage win or two.

    O’Grady wasn’t a pure sprinter – not compared to the likes of Zabel anyway. I reckon if Stuart was racing now [PED-free of course], he would’ve converted one or more of his 4 runner-up placing with a green jersey.

  • MattF

    Great article Jamie. Some of the commentary seems to be missing the point. Comparing Sagan with, arguably, the greatest male tennis player of all time is the highest of compliments. Fair enough too, Sagan is an asset to the sport and an outstanding athlete.

  • Ralph

    Isn’t this: “He is well aware that second place in a medium-mountain stage is worth nearly the same as seventh in a flat stage sprint, while two fifth places in medium-mountain stages earn nearly as much as second place in a flat stage.” the answer to your question?

    Given the way the green points are still allocated (despite it being ‘tipped’ a bit), i.e. a fair bit to play for in non flat stages – doesn’t the system just favour an all-round baroudeur than an outright sprinter? At present it’s not really a pure sprinter’s jersey, as this attests to, hence a rider like Sagan wins it. It’s all in still fairly even the points allocation.

    • Ralph

      Sorry, last sentence should have been “It’s all in the fairly even points allocation”. Good analysis though! Cheers for the piece

  • Nope

    That was a truly terrible article, starting with the ridiculous line about balls, and trying too hard to be “scientific”, for what reason I don’t know. He’s not the “worst” sprinter winning the “sprint” jersey. He’s an incredibly versatile bike rider, who is almost as fast as the best sprinters in the world, who can ride classics with the best in the world, who can climb pretty fast when he needs to, and who seemingly always wants to win. That is the recipe for winning points jerseys. Case closed.

    • JJ

      Cheers, good luck with everything.

    • Stompin

      And, what a truly terrible comment, adding nothing to the article at all.

    • Yep

      If the ‘science’ is too complex for you, why read it, let alone comment? Statistical analysis adds objectivity and rigour. The best cycling blog around (inrng) makes fine use of data and associated analysis. More power to cyclingtips for doing likewise, even if it’s clearly too intellectually challenging for some readers.

      • Rodrigo Diaz

        Only when the premises are correct. Otherwise it’s a case of GIGO. See Pirates Vs. Climate change, or the correlation between autism and the consumption of organic foods. Both have positive correlations but no one in his right mind would say that climate change is produced by the lack of jolly rogers.

        I am not saying this article is garbage. I am saying that the initial premise, somewhat skimmed/implied that states that “green jersey is for the best sprinter” is flawed. It is not, it’s a points competition which has a complicated identity.

        As it is, if we had an “omnium” jersey like the old TdF’s that were awarded based on stage placings probably Sagan could win it or be close to it as well.

      • disqustingg

        My regrets if you find any semblance of science or analysis in that article. You are clearly not a scientist.

    • Sean

      There is always one, thankfully this time it’s not me.

      • Michele

        Nor me

    • Simon

      +1 yours is the correct explanation for his green jersey success. The article wins this year’s award for overstating the bleeding obvious.

    • Tossa.

    • Nope – “He’s not the “worst” sprinter winning the “sprint” jersey. He’s an incredibly versatile bike rider, who is almost as fast as the best sprinters in the world, who can ride classics with the best in the world, who can climb pretty fast when he needs to, and who seemingly always wants to win. That is the recipe for winning points jerseys.”

      Plus if he had the support that the ‘winning’ sprinters had with a decent lead out train and not having to pull others along himself, he have probably beaten all the other specialist sprinters too. With the right support and a few more years, he’s potentially a GC contender.

      • Dave


        He came in ahead of Cav (the GOAT according to some) on a number of stages which had bunch sprints this year.

  • velocite

    That is a terrific video of Sagan descending. My pr rank down Tawonga is 1,794 out of 7,046. Sort of OK, but over a minute behind Wayne Hildred. I think I know how to descend but obviously I’m way of the limits. Comparing Sagan with Gomez, what strikes me is how unequivocally Sagan attacks each corner, really pushing the bike into the corner. In a race car you can experiment with increasing speed until you slide off. I don’t want to do that on the bike. I could do with a clinic, so I can find out without breaking anything.

  • David Markham

    Sagan would have won at least one stage if he’d had some kind of lead out train or he hadn’t been hauling Bertie’s arse around France for the first 2 weeks

  • Derek Maher

    Peter Sagan,Is a rider who is not afraid of taking a chance.Either on a mountain descent or in a break from the Peloton and uses his talent to profit from his style.Alberto is similar in many ways in the mountain climbs relying on his skills to take a chance and attack solo.Neither guy are known when it comes down to it of sitting in all day and letting a team do all the work untill the last couple of Ks.Makes for good Race watching.

  • Holby City

    Without a doubt the most electrifying, talented and entertaining rider in the peloton. I was actually fearing for his life when he descended into Gap.

    How dare you call him the worst even if it’s in inverted commas Jamie! Haven’t you listened to Paul Sherwen? Sagan still doesn’t know what his body is capable of!!!

    Thank goodness we have someone like Sagan to make up for Froome who has the personality of a doorknob.

  • a m

    Interesting article. However, what has this to do with Simpson’s paradox?

    As a statistician, I see nothing here that connects to the statistical idea behind Simpson’s paradox. Rather, I see a misunderstanding of statistics…


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