Three-time World Champion Peter Sagan set a new Tour de Suisse stage win record with his victory in Frauenfeld. We talked to the Slovakian the evening before the start of the spring classics.
Tour de Suisse: Did it feel a bit like coming home on this sunny day in Frauenfeld? It was your 16th victory in the Tour de Suisse. The finish line was covered with huge Slovakian flags and World Champion flags.
Peter Sagan: To be honest, every victory is nice, in every race. But my victories in Switzerland are better and setting a new record for stage wins is always a good motivation. The Slovak fans are incredible wherever I am in the world, they are always there and their expressions of affection drive me on.
TdS: This first stage win was your first victory after winning the Paris-Roubaix monument. After that you won three stages of the Tour de France. How important was your victory in Frauenfeld back then?
PS: It was a very nice victory, because the Tour de Suisse is a race that I really like. I love the landscape. The organization is fantastic. It runs like Swiss clockwork. The fans are great. There is a strong field of participants, which also makes the Tour de Suisse a perfect preparation for the Tour de France.
TdS: It seemed that people were talking more about your action in the third stage than about your victory the day before. Do you remember why you tried this brutal solo attack on the last climb the next day? You even left the climbers behind with this.
PS: You sometimes have to try something else, even if it is risky. This is also good for the spectators, the television audience and the race itself. It may not work in the end, but that’s how you create excitement and make the race interesting.
TdS: Science and technology are becoming increasingly important. Races are usually decided on the last kilometers. Tactics, resource-saving use of forces and performance values are often more important than risky driving and panache. Is it correct to say that you make a great effort not to follow this trend too much?
PS: I follow my instinct and it is nice to make races exciting. But we are professional athletes and have to adapt to the racing environment.
TdS: This year is already your tenth year on WorldTour level. How do you manage to still have fun at the race and on the bike?
PS: I love what I do and I love sitting on the bike! That’s my motto in life, you gotta love what you do. Only then can you be the best and have fun, even after 10 years.
TdS: After all your success and your single attacks the others in the peloton won’t let you pull as easily as they might have done at the beginning. How did you have to develop as a driver from the early years of Liquigas-Cannondale until today?
PS: I have developed as a person and driver, just as the goals and challenges have changed. It is clear that the further you progress in your career, the more goals you achieve, the different ways you approach things. The team or the sponsors have different expectations of you. Yet deep down I am the same person, I have not changed. I still like cycling and try to give my best in every race.
TdS: In Cannondale and Tinkoff you seemed to be a lonely warrior; now, in BORA-hansgrohe, you are the captain and the team has grown stronger and stronger with every year. How does that fact make the race different for you?
PS: It’s completely different to being a young, almost unknown driver than having some of the biggest races of the season in your sights. You need backing, and that is what we at BORA-hansgrohe have done. I would say that in 2019 we have the most complete classic team we have ever had. We have built a stronger team over the last three seasons, we have taken on riders who bring strength and experience. It was an ongoing process. We will see how things develop this year.
TdS: This year you have a quite extensive program, which includes almost all spring classics. Will you try to concentrate on several races to see what happens instead of putting all your hopes and pressure on one or two monuments?
PS: This year I started my classic campaign a little later than usual, as it runs until the end of April. It would be foolish to concentrate on one or two races. When I take part in a race, I want to win it, especially when it comes to these races. I go to the starting line with only one thought in my mind: to give everything I have on this day. It’s what I always do, no matter where I drive.
TdS: Are you going on holiday again to relax a bit before you start at the Tour de Suisse and fight again at the Tour de France for stages and the green jersey?
PS: The period from February to August is the most intensive of the year, you spend these months practically only on your bike. You train or race. I don’t have a real vacation. I’ll do that later. On a day off, I relax best when I spend time with my family, my loved ones and my friends.
TdS: You race all over the world Can you think of anything special that you remember from races in Switzerland? Anything that grabbed your attention or caught your eye?
PS: The Swiss Alps are definitely among the most beautiful landscapes in the world, but the mountains and climbs are tough and never seem to end. You make one rise, and right after that another one comes.
TdS: Peter, thank you. All the best for all your races, and we look forward to seeing you in Switzerland in June.
PS: Thanks. I will do my best to thank as many fans as possible during the race. I really like the Swiss audience and the hospitality. It would be a pity if somebody is disappointed one day because I cannot give an autograph or take a photo. In such a case, this has nothing to do with the fact that I did not want to – it is just unfortunately not always possible.