LIÈGE, Belgium (VN) — Peter Sagan has won just about everything in the short time since turning pro just over two years ago. He embarks on his first Tour de France Saturday in Liège, and says that he’s not scared to fight in the sprints and for the green jersey.
“I’m not scared of anything,” said the 22-year-old Slovak of Liquigas-Cannondale. “I’m here to win. If I don’t, it’s okay.”
Sagan has collected an enormous amount of wins in only two full seasons as a professional. He has racked up stages in Paris-Nice, the Vuelta a España and the tours of California, Romandie, Suisse, Poland and Oman. Since May, he has won five stages in California and four in the Tour de Suisse, while also taking the points classification jerseys in both races. He’s also tied for the most number of wins this season, 13, with André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol).
He raced his first grand tour, the Vuelta a España, last year and hauled in an impressive three stages. And though this is his first Tour, he’s expected to come away with at least a stage win and perhaps the green points jersey.
Mark Cavendish (Sky) said that his first priority is the Olympics and seeing captain Brad Wiggins to the yellow jersey — a decision that may suit Sagan.
“I think I’ve done well this season. I hope that in the Tour I’ll do well because it’s a very important race. I hope to be able to win one or two stages. I’ll try,” Sagan said in a press conference Thursday.
“In the Tour, there are all the top riders and sprinters here for the green jersey. We’ll see how the race continues day after day. I want the jersey, but it’s very difficult to take it in the Tour.”
Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar) and Greipel are possible green-jersey contenders.
“Right now, I don’t know how the other riders are going. We need to see how Cav’, Greipel, [Marcel] Kittel are going,” Sagan added.
“Cav’ is strong each year. This year, I’ll bet he’ll be here to have more wins. We need to see how he feels when the race gets going. I’ll try to beat him, but it’s going to be very difficult.”
Sagan has yet to beat Cavendish in a head-to-head sprint, but even placing second or third will be important if he intends to fight for the green jersey. As Cavendish’s Sky team is supporting Wiggins in the overall, Sagan’s team is backing Vincenzo Nibali. Sagan explained that he’d switch his efforts to helping Nibali as much as possible if he sees he’s not in contention for the green jersey.
“This is my first time in the Tour,” Sagan continued. “I know it’s a famous race, but I’m not worried. There’s no reason to be scared.”
Stage win or not, he said that his next goal is to return to the spring classics and get a big one-day race win. He wants to continue his rapid rise and uphold his nickname of “Cannibal,” awarded by Ivan Basso.