Road

Sagan’s rainbow return Down Under with Bora

Peter Sagan goes to Australia early to tune-up in the warm climate before his WorldTour 2017 kickoff race, the Santos Tour Down Under.

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Peter Sagan is preparing in Australia for nearly three weeks ahead of his debut in his new rainbow-banded Bora – Hansgrohe jersey.

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The Slovakian world champion arrived in Adelaide, Australia, in late December to train. He will start with the People’s Choice Criterium on January 15 and two days later, the Santos Tour Down Under.

“I am proud to wear again the rainbow jersey, now in the lights of Bora – Hansgrohe,” Sagan said. “But with the new year also the records start from zero again, now again hard work will be the basis for success. With my new team, I am sure, we are on track so far.”

Sagan won the world championships already in 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. He raced through 2016 in the rainbow jersey, taking his biggest one-day race win in the Ronde van Vlaanderen on the occasion of its 100th edition.

He won three stages and his fifth green jersey in Tour de France. He capped off the year by becoming the first cyclist since Paolo Bettini in 2007 to win back-to-back world titles.

The 2017 season starts at zero, but Sagan is ensuring he is prepared with an early trip to Adelaide. He is training for three weeks in the 85-degree sunshine ahead of the race.

To celebrate the warm new year, he rode wheelies, hopped and spun on his new bicycle.

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“I’m very glad to come back to Adelaide and it is a great start to the season,” Sagan added.

“The weather is very bad in Europe, and I can relax and train here, and not have the pressure of what I am going to do today because it is raining or snowing.

“It will be a high level of racing because it is a WorldTour event, and I just want to do my best with the team.”

Sagan last made the trip to the Tour Down Under in his debut season in 2010, when he raced for Team Liquigas. That year, Sagan crashed, but still joined an attack with Cadel Evans and Alejandro Valverde in the Willunga Hill queen stage. The race performance hinted at what was to follow for Sagan.

Over the winter, he left Team Tinkoff when it folded and joined German team Bora – Hansgrohe. With Sagan, and new sponsors Specialized and Hansgrohe, the team made the jump from the Professional Continental division to the WorldTour.

Seven other cyclists made the jump from team Tinkoff. Sagan, 26, will build from the Tour Down Under. Though his jersey changes names, his goals remain the same: to lead the team in the classics from Milano-Sanremo to Paris-Roubaix and in the Tour de France.

“We did our first team camp in December and it was very good. The team have brought in a lot of good people,” Sagan explained.

“I just want to do my best for the team, and we will see what we can do.”

Bora and Hansgrohe build kitchens. Their weight does not fall entirely on Sagan, though. Rafal Majka (also from Tinkoff) and Leopold König (Sky), will lead the classification team in stage races.