Taking life lessons with the pro peloton might not be an easy or useful thing to do – eat like a sparrow, ride a bike until your ass starts to ache, I could go on – but a useful rule of thumb is if Peter Sagan is happy, you probably should be too.
In recent years, the three rainbow jerseys had finally disappeared from his back, taking over the colors of the Slovak national champion as consolation for another year, before being reduced to his only commercial team outfit. and not even. a green jersey to put it on at the Tour in 2020. In turn, Sagan was even more laconic than usual, maybe even a little fed up with it all.
He had already won all that needed to be won, and a new supersonic generation was overthrowing the established order. Sam Bennett climbing over the Tour de France mountains to smash his green jersey streak was the last straw. People no longer began to whisper, but dared to ask the question: “Is this the end of Peter Sagan?”
But then came the first Giro d’Italia, then aged 30, at the end of the truncated 2020 season. It was October and he had yet to score a victory, but 21 more days of racing gave him plenty of time and of course Stage 10 was his after a magnificent solo effort.
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On the evening of the Giro 2021, Sagan sits down in front of his webcam, smiling from ear to ear.
And why not? There is a lot to be thankful for. The pandemic suffering in Europe seems to be coming to an end and the Giro has fans by the wayside – bike races seem normal again.
Sitting in the seat his teammate Emanuel Buchmann just left, Sagan asks the German if he wants to stay and answer questions for him – the Slovak already knows what’s coming.
We don’t know where you will be next year [his future at Bora-Hansgrohe is currently uncertain], do you think about it a lot?
“Cycling is here, now I have to think about racing and then a new contract will come up.”
Are you here for the stage wins or the maglia ciclamino?
“It’s important to gain stages but if I do well in the stages, I will do well in the maglia ciclamino, we will see day by day.”
Last year you arrived at the Giro at the end of the season without a win, having already won this season, are you less stressed?
“The situation is different from last year because of Covid. I wouldn’t say I’m less stressed because I always want to do well.”
It’s the same with the course with Sagan. When you are as successful and appreciated as he is, you can say as little as you want, and people will inevitably continue to listen.
But then he asked him if he still had the same thirst for victory as before, and here Sagan goes up to the plateau with a more beautiful effect.
“If I see an opportunity, I’ll take it. My old coach says if there’s money on the floor you pick it up. It’s the same with wins.”
So winning Grand Tour stages is like finding a quid on the ground. I get it.
What is a bit more complex is the rest of the season, and Sagan will decide during this Giro if he will participate in the Tour de France this summer, because the Olympic Games and the World Championships also await him, just like Paris-Roubaix, which now takes place week after the battle for the rainbow jersey.
“I think it’s time to stop now guys,” says the press officer, before being ignored.
“What will you do after you retire?” comes another question.
“I do not know yet.”
“And now, in Slovak, could you explain what your goals are and what you think of the Giro…”
Sagan switches to a third language used in the last 15 minutes to answer the same questions. The world continues to turn, the Slovak continues to race bikes. Maybe everything will be fine after all.