Peter Sagan's World Championship win was a victory for cycling
Last Updated: 10/10/15 3:26pm
As a neutral observer and commentator on cycling, it’s my job to remain impartial at all times, but I can’t imagine anyone will condemn me for admitting that I punched the air in celebration when Peter Sagan crossed the line as winner of the World Championship road race on Sunday night.
I will be the first to admit that over the past year or so, I had begun to fear that the outstanding talent of this generation might never achieve the results he appeared destined for when he first turned professional.
He seemed to have lost his sprint, he started showing signs of frustration and he was fast becoming the most expensive nearly man in the history of the sport, so to see him destroy the rest of the world in Richmond was both a pleasure and a relief.
Call it favouritism if you want, but some sportsmen are so charismatic, so inspiringly gifted that you can't help but want them to win. Usain Bolt, Lionel Messi, Valentino Rossi perhaps. There aren't many of them, but I think Sagan is in that bracket. He maybe doesn't have the same profile globally, but he has the same effect.
The one-handed wheelies, the impulsive attacks, the exhilarating descents, the hair dos, the quirky celebrations - even his rivals looked happy to see him win in the way they shared high fives with him at the finish line. He is the type of guy who makes you want to ride a bike, and that is perhaps the biggest compliment you can pay him.
The people's champion is now the world champion and the rainbow jersey could not be on better shoulders for the next 12 months.
The only problem for Sagan is that, if he thought he was a marked man before, it's only going to get worse from now on.
He has finished second and third so often in the past couple of years that fellow riders have almost become used to him missing out, but now that he is world champion, any leeway they might have been tempted to give him is back out of the window. I think he will be a successful world champion, but it won't be easy for him.
Another individual who needs to be wary of hidden pitfalls next year is Sir Dave Brailsford, who last week announced the signings of six new riders for Team Sky, the most notable two being Michal Kwiatkowski and Mikel Landa.
On the face of it, their squad for 2016 looks frighteningly formidable, packed full of riders capable of winning pretty much every race on the calendar.
But these new acquisitions have also made them a team of stars and personalities, similar in some respects to a couple of years ago, when Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome were at loggerheads over who should be leader at the Tour de France.
I'm not saying Kwiatkowski and Landa are bad signings - far from it - but Brailsford has given himself a big job in the next couple of years to maintain team unity and keep everyone happy and motivated.
One rider who certainly isn't lacking in that area is Froome, who announced this week his ambition to win a Tour de France, Olympic road race and Olympic time trial treble next year.
It's a marvellous idea, but I question the feasibility of it. There is obviously no doubt that he can win the Tour de France, but he has very little pedigree in one-day racing and the time trial will also be exceptionally difficult to win.
Granted, the hilly courses in Rio suit him, but in the time trial in particular, he will be up against specialists who have prepared specifically for that event, whereas Froome will be in the shape of a Tour de France-challenging climber.
I'm fully aware that Wiggins won both the Tour and Olympic time trial in 2012, and that Froome finished second and third respectively, but the Tour that year was very time trial-orientated and led perfectly into the Olympics.
That might not be the case next year and I believe Froome has set himself the challenge of his career.