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Just two weeks after closing out a fruitless Tour campaign that saw him fail to deliver a stage win or take a record-extending eighth green jersey, the Slovak is refocused and hoping to have left a litany of near-misses and misfortunes on the roads of France.
“I think I was in good form at the Tour, but there was something missing,” Sagan insisted Thursday. “Results don’t always relate to condition. I had some bad luck, but the condition was good.”
Despite a haul of seven top-10 stage finishes, Sagan only stepped to the podium twice at the Tour, scant reward after his Bora-Hansgrohe teammates repeatedly ripped the race apart in a move to distance sprint rivals and crank the difficulty to the level at which their leader thrives.
Sagan’s Tour campaign was a case of “what-ifs.”
On stage 7, Bora-Hansgrohe had animated the race and dropped all their sprinter rivals only for their captain to drop his chain in the sprint. Four stages later, the Slovak was relegated for dangerous sprinting in the charge for the line in Poitiers, losing a possible second-place result and whole hatful of classification points in the process.
Sagan was keen to point out the negatives and focus on the positives from his three weeks in France – he stayed upright through the crash-littered race, and believes his legs are strong again after two easy weeks at home in Monaco.
“I didn’t have any crashes, I finished six stages in the top-five,” he said. “I just lacked a little luck. A chain jump, a penalty, a bad position in the sprint… I still came out well from the Tour and now we’ll see how I am, I’ve never done two grand tours so close together. ”
Having made the headline-grabbing call to sit out the cobbled classics in order to honor a commitment he made to organizers of the Giro d’Italia, the pressure is on 30-year-old Sagan to turn around a spell of 65 race-days without a victory.
“I definitely want to win some stages, and after a couple of days I will fight for the maglia ciclamino [points jersey],” he said.
Sagan will be in for no easy ride in Italy this month. Home star Elia Viviani (Cofidis) is looking for a bounceback after a similarly disappointing Tour, and flourishing fastmen Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Arnaud Demare (Groupama FDJ) are also on the hunt for sprint stages. And when the racing gets grippy and the hills start rolling, there will be perennial rival Michael Matthews (Sunweb) to worry about.
Nonchalant as ever, Sagan answered questions in Italian, English and Slovakian as reporters probed into his thoughts on his continuing success and future goals as he enters the twilight of his life as a racer.
“During my career, I’ve collected a lot of good results already,” he said. “I want to keep fighting for the future years. I understand that in my career sometimes I will have great success, and the next year could be not so good.”
Just as he acknowledged his recent downturn in results and the need to be delivered some much-needed luck before the Giro’s likely uphill sprint in Agrigento on Sunday, Sagan is easy with regards to where he may go in the next years of his career.
“We’ll just see what life is going to bring me,” he said with a grin.