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Interview with Peter Sagan at the Tour of California

by Andrew Rogers

May 22, 2010 (Big Bear, CA) – The winner of the Tour of California’s queen stage atop Big Bear, Stage 6 at 217.7km is a triple threat. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo is leading the Best Young Rider and Sprint classifications, and has proven he can climb and compete with the world’s best with back-to-back stage wins. It was the third consecutive win for his Liquigas-Doimo team from Italy.

Sagan, a twenty year old Neo-pro who’s come out of nowhere this year to win two stages at Paris-Nice this spring, and now two at the ToC – just missing a third – is cycling’s latest revelation. He also won a stage at the Tour de Romandie.

Sagan, “the Slovakian Speedster” know’s his strengths and his weaknesses, and when compared to [Mark] Cavendish (whose birthday is May 21), makes it clear: “I have a lot of limitations, we are different riders.

Even 3-time world TT champion and current holder of the ToC golden jersey, Mick Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia, was noticeably amazed with Sagan: “A guy as fast as him is hard to beat, and today showed he’s not a one trick pony.”

When Sagan won atop Big Bear on Stage 6 he raised five fingers to the wild crowd, signifying his five stage wins this season: “I’ve won five stages this year and this one really meant a lot to me. Nothing is easy in this sport and I want to savor it. I hope to win more this year, maybe in the US again.”

Following his victories at Paris-Nice, speculation about his talent has been mounting. Many held their breath to see how long his wave would crest – and so far he’s riding a psunami – or maybe he’s the new wave.

Barely twenty, Sagan’s star is not just rising, it’s incandescent and when asked more about Cavendish’s who crawled in practically last on the stage Sagan remarked: “Mark is much more a pure sprinter than me. He’s faster and stronger when his team winds him up and puts him in the right position. He normally can beat me in those situations. But I am strong when there’s chaos and it’s up to me to put the test on the field…I can win more in smaller groups.”

What’s your biggest moment in pro cycling?
Peter Sagan: I think today – it was so hard, the conditions were really bad, I think the suffering was bigger than I can remember. I held on thinking I just have to keep on a good wheel and see what happens at the end, and as the group was not that big I was able to keep up.

Do you feel different now that you’ve won many big stage wins already in 2010?
PS: I don’t know, sometimes feel really lucky, its hard to say. I’m really new to this and getting used to riding in so many different places – so far its great to see the world this way.

[Mark] Cavendish talks about having a second kick when smelling the line ahead, what’s your weapon when you’re in close sprints against the best on the world?
PS: I’m not sure I have one, I’d like to develop a second kick, I’ve got a few years to put together another weapon.

What makes you so fast? Diet, training, natural talent, high lactic acid tolerance?
PS: All of them! No really, I eat a lot of pasta, more than most I think. But I was always fast riding bikes with my brother who got me on a bike. There was little to do so I ended up riding everywhere. It was both my transportation, entertainment, and a good way perhaps to make a living I hope.

What was your first bike?
PS: I don’t think you’ve heard of it, it was an Admiral, a mountain bike you could find in any normal store. My father bought it for me I began to ride as a boy at age 9.

How many gears?
PS: I think 12…that’s how I started, riding that mountain bike in the hills, going to lakes during summer, but not able to ride much during the snowy winters. I grew up in an area with rolling hills and some big ones that were short and tough. I bought a road bike a few years later a Cinteron, nothing special but it worked fine for me.”

Where else will you be racing this year?
PS: Tour of Suisse I think…also in Philadephia.

Any plans for more damage at this Tour?
PS: Who knows, I really didn’t think I was going to be crossing the line first today, vediamo!

Written and translated into English by Andrew Rogers.

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