Peter Sagan takes the rule book, tears it in half, and lights it on fire.” Bob Rolle
One reason the 2016 Tour de France has been so thrilling to watch is Peter Sagan, a supremely talented athlete widely regarded as the most compleat cyclist to grace the sport in long time: Power, poise, speed and strategy — Peter has the whole package.
Consider one of the longest and most grueling stages of this 2016 Tour: First, during almost five hours on the bike in the heat in tough terrain, Peter helped chase down renegade competitors who broke away from the pack and tried to snatch the stage. Then he pulled off a photo finish win during an end-of-stage sprint with a final kick, a lunge to the line, that had both viewers and fellow cyclists shaking heir heads in amazement. His bike hit the line barely an inch ahead of his nearest rival — just enough to squeak through to the stage victory.
Peter’s a master of the final kick — that last lunge, that last surge of energy during a final sprint that drives him over the finish line. As writers, we all know how tough that final kick can be: The finish line seems so close, yet so far. Whether we’re completing a first draft of a novel or the major revision of a short story or play, pushing through to the very end — giving that final kick, stretching out our hand and touching the side of pool — can take every ounce of chutzpah, belief, and energy that we have. All too often, sadly, we can’t summon up the guts to get the glory.
What assets did Peter Sagan bring to the line that we can use? Here are three:
Patience: This year, said one sports pro, Peter has a new level of poise, calm, and confidence.” After two previous Tours in which he constantly came in second or third, he’s learned how to wait for the right moment to make his move. While other sprinters jockey madly to find a good position, expending precious energy in the process, Peter maneuvers himself into a prime spot to launch his final attack and then waits for just the right time. This takes skill and patience. Peter knows that you can’t rush the moment: You have to let it unfold organically.
Precision: An enormously gifted rider, Peter seems to do everything easily, but always with care and intention. He never appears to make a sloppy or energy wasting move. Even at the end of a long, hard stage, when other riders are getting tired and losing their mojo, Peter seems alert enough to time his sprint to the finish line with surgical precision: His economy of motion is thrilling to see: There’s no wasted effort. He’s learned to pace himself so he has enough gas to get to the end with gusto.
Punch: At he end of the line, Peter puts it all on the line. He doesn’t hold back, he goes all out. That’s one of the differences between a champion and an also ran: Just when it counts most, a champion taps a deep reserve of extra energy. In the final moment of this stage’s win, Peter lunged forward, literally pushing his bike across the finish line with a last burst of speed that gave him that extra inch — the margin of victory.
Winning a stage of the Tour de France is among the most challenging triumphs in sports. So let’s be champions like Peter Sagan. Let’s find the poise, calm, and confidence to push past our self-imposed limitations and surge to the finish line as we all write on!