Peter Sagan is a world-class rider. He is the first cyclist to win the UCI Road World Championships three times in a row. But he is more than just a cyclist; he’s a personality, and someone his fellow professional riders had to get used to. One thing also certain: with his charisma, cool accent, jokes, and incredible qualities as a rider, he is really important to a lot of cycling fans. He is probably one of the few who could write his autobiography before the end of his career. And that’s exactly what he did. Without giving too much away, we want to share a few of his high-profile facts.
Afraid of the Dutch
In the book’s prologue, Sagan talks about the World Championship road race in Bergen in 2017. Sagan had been wearing the rainbow jersey for two years and he describes in great detail what it felt like during the final half hour of fighting to keep the rainbow stripes for a third year. The Dutch team, wearing their orange jerseys, made quite an impression on the triple world champion. Sagan knows that if the Dutch hit the front, the pace is no longer pleasant. This is what he wrote:
“The pace stayed steady until five laps to go. Then all the Dutch riders shot to the front and the race pace immediately became extremely unpleasant. The Netherlands seems to have an infinite supply of strong men at every World Championships. When you’re in the middle of the pack and see seemingly dozens of one-meter-eighty, eighty kilos of muscle wrapped in orange jerseys, steaming to the head of the peloton, you know that it’s time to breathe deeply and grit your teeth. It’s fasten-your-seatbelts time: the race is on!”
During Sagan’s first Tour de France in 2012, Fabian Cancellara rode in the yellow jersey after the first day. He seemed to really want to take another stage victory. On the last slope before the finish, he attacked, and only Sagan and Edvald Boasson Hagen were able to hold on. Sagan sprinted past Cancellara in the last stretch, and as he passed he made the chicken dance gesture. Something that Cancellara took personally, and was not happy about. In the book, the (then 22-year-old) Slovakian mentions he had already made a promise to his friends before the Tour: if I win, I will do the chicken dance. He won two more stages during that Tour de France, and celebrated with other victory dances.
Why so serious?
Peter Sagan’s life motto is: ‘Why so serious?’. If he wins a race, that’s cool. But if he finishes thirteenth, that’s also ok. He always keeps his cool.
He also trains to be able to win races, not to be able to pedal the highest wattages. He enjoys riding for a team where he can do his own thing, without having to continuously follow up-to-the minute training schedules.
Why mess with nature?
‘Why mess with nature?’ Was Peter Sagan’s answer to trainers who asked him if he wanted to become a sprinter or a climber. A lighter-weight Sagan might ride up a mountain faster, but then he would lose some of his power. And that’s not what he wants. He obviously knows his body like no-one else. But don’t get us wrong, he is exceedingly professional about the sport. He simply enjoys good nutrition, training, resting, and racing in his own professional way.
Sagan thought about quitting
When Sagan made the switch from Cannondale to Tinkoff, a lot changed for him. The man who convinced him to come to the team, Bjarne Riis, was dismissed soon after he Sagan joined. The trainer who had been assigned to accompany Sagan did not fit in with his personality. All training schedules had to be precisely finished, and after every session he called to ask Sagan a host of questions. Sagan did not achieve any solid results that season (later it turned out that he had a virus) and he stopped having fun cycling and regularly thought about quitting the bike. At that time, he only had to sit out his lucrative three-year contract to be able to retire.
Fortunately, we now know that Peter has re-discovered his joy of cycling, because he still rides around in the peloton!