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Peter Sagan and the Green Jersey: “If I Don’t Win, I Accept the Result and Move On”

By Christopher Ashley/Frantiska Blazkova

The Tour de France green jersey is a fickle thing. Even though it might seem a bit overshadowed by its GC yellow sibling during the Tour month, those cumulative little victories that add up throughout all stages and get the rider to don the green are a delight to watch. Winning the green jersey requires an all-round set of skills, flexibility, and creativity from the rider. Which brings us to Peter Sagan who already won it for the record-breaking seventh time this year.

Officially called the points classification, the points are awarded for high finishes in a stage and for winning intermediate sprints, the latter being where Sagan excels. Some consider the green jersey a “sprinters’ competition”. Flat stage stretches ideal for racking up points have been lately dubbed “Škoda sprints” because Škoda, the Czech car manufacturer, has been an official partner and support vehicle partner of the Tour de France for the past 16 years and has been sponsoring the green jersey since 2014.

As the Škoda’s ambassador Andy Schleck predicted for We Love Cycling before the Tour was over, Sagan in green is almost a formal sight at the Tour and, indeed, he ended up wearing it again. Being known even outside the pro road cycling world thanks to his charisma, educational vids, antics or musical numbers, the Slovak rider is a rare case. Not only for his celebrity status and approachability but also because he’s got the chops – including this year’s Tour, he won the green jersey for the seventh time. They’ve been going strong ever since he first got it in the 2012 so We Love Cycling sat down with Peter to chat the green jersey, sprint talents, career, future, and “The Hulk”.

When asked about his future green ambition, Peter offers a sober outlook: “Winning the green jersey is such a difficult and complex task which depends on so many factors that make it impossible to answer your question. The only thing I can tell you with absolute certainty is that in every race I start, I always try to give my best.”

Peter Sagan reacts after winning the 116th edition of the Paris-Roubaix on April 8, 2018 in Compiegne. © Profimedia, AFP

Besides the Tour de France, his list of achievements so far is impressive: 3 World Championships, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, 1st in California, Tour de Pologne, Montréal, and Quebec, and many more. But how about dreams that have yet to come true? “There are a few races that still miss from my palmares but winning them is a different story. As I said before, my motto is that at the start of every race I’m ready and focused on giving it my all. This way, when I cross the finish line, no matter what result I had, I know that it was the best I could have achieved. If it is a victory, then I’ll be, obviously, very happy. If it isn’t, I will accept the result and move on.” And although he claims it’s hard to single out his favourite victory, Peter admits that the three consecutive World Championship wins have a distinct personal value.

Because pro road cycling is a competitive environment as any collective sport, the seasoned veteran Sagan can’t help but notice a few emerging hopefuls. “There is indeed a new generation of promising sprinters. All of them are strong, ambitious, in top teams and have what it takes to become very successful but the way they will develop in five years is something nobody knows. However, regardless of who among them converts himself into a future star, it is good to have an emerging group of young riders, not only for the sport of cycling but also for the races and the spectators.”

Shifting the topic to a different cycling discipline, Peter is also known to enjoy mountain biking. Has he ever considered a career in this field or has he ever thought about expanding his cycling portfolio? As it turns out, not really. “My career wasn’t determined just by my personal choices but was also shaped by the condition I was in and the options I had at every moment. So, even if I had a different wish at some stage, I might not have been able to follow it. Having said that, I have no regrets about my career and what I have achieved. I’d like to thank everybody, especially my family, for their support all those years,” explains Peter.

Speaking of a long and successful career, one can’t help but think that the peak condition and performance will not last forever. Is there a life after cycling? “Right now”, Peter muses, “cycling is my life and my life is cycling. Of course, at some point in the future, racing will not be part of my life. This is true for all professional athletes – you can’t compete indefinitely. However, cycling will probably always stay present. I will still go riding on my bike with my friends and family and don’t forget that the bicycle is one of the best and most environmentally-friendly means of transportation. So, I think my bikes and I will never part ways but my relationship with them will be considerably different,” he predicts realistically.

As we mentioned before, besides his outstanding cycling results, Peter is known for his casualness, light shenanigans – and signature salutes. One can’t help but notice that he likes to celebrate a successful stage finish or crossing the finish line with an arm-flexing gesture, fittingly nicknamed by the media as “The Hulk”. Some fans have recently noticed that the Hulk started to appear less and less. Can we hope for a return? “You never know, it depends on the kind of finish,” Peter says, without batting an eye.

Be sure to follow Peter Sagan on his Instagram and Facebook because you simply never know what he’s up to next.