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Sagan: “Mountain bike is definitely more fun”

21 de June de 2024

Very few cyclists can stand up to comparison with Peter Sagan’s record. Three times World Champion, seven green jerseys in the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders… and yet Sagan is much more than his track record.

The Slovak is a cyclist loved all over the world for his attitude on the bike and for the undeniable charisma he displays in each and every one of his movements. One of the world’s best known and most influential riders. 

2024 is his first year away from World Tour competition. A season of new challenges, new opportunities and especially dedicated to mountain biking, a discipline he practiced in his youth. Among all the races on his calendar, two stand out above the rest for being his first two mountain stage races: Škoda Titan Desert Almería and NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia

This is your first year out of pro road cycling. How are you feeling? How is your day by day?

I started the year with different goals, different preparation, trying to prepare myself for mountain biking: World Cup Series and Olympic Games. I had heart problems, and I lost all the condition I was working on since October. After that I decided that I wanted to join to more events. Riding with more people and have fun. I am here now, trying to enjoy more rides and enjoying time with people.

Are you still watching races on TV now of the guys you used to ride with?

I enjoy watching mountain bike races, that’s for sure. I have a new passion. To be honest I did not have that much time to follow all the road cycling season. I watched all the classics from the start of the season, but now I am a little bit out. There is a lot of things to prepare, to think, to do… I follow it but not as much as before.

What is the thing that you miss the most about riding at road pro level?

Hard to say. Maybe I already over-race. I did this year Tour of Hungary, and I was pretty excited to see all friends from the World Tour: Viviani, Cavendish, Wiśniowski, and several guys for Bora – Hansgrohe. It was good atmosphere before the race. But after it started, ten kilometers and it was a bit crash. I was like: “Wow, I don’t really miss that”. I think it is better to focus on different things.

Who is the guy who hypes you the most to watch?

Definitely in the ‘classic’ season it was Van der Poel. He did an amazing job, amazing start of the season. Now I think Pogačar is doing very great. They are the only two riders who can really enjoy riding in the peloton. It looks almost easy for them to win, something they just told me in my old times. In reality, there is a lot of work behind.

What is the victory that makes you prouder of?

It is a hard question. Definitely three World Championship in a row is special. I won Paris-Roubaix, Tour des Flandres, seven green jerseys in the Tour de France… everything is different. Different kind of races. In Flanders and in Roubaix I won with the rainbow jersey, which is special. The seven green jerseys I am the only one in the world. Winning three world championship in a row. Everything is special.

Is there any day that you remember that was like the best in your career? Like your legs where superb or you felt unbeatable?

Yes, I had that feeling in a lot of races, but sometimes I had it and I lost lot. Maybe I undervalued others. Maybe my best legs were on Yorkshire in World Championship (2019), but I finished 5th. I had conditions to win, but it is just that every race went different. You can feel good, and yet you can lose.

What makes the mountain bike special for you now?

It is definitely more fun. When you climb one mountain you have more fun in the downhill that in the road cycling.

The technical part is the most fun to you.

Yeah, for sure. Sometimes you crash also but at least you crash alone.

In your road racing time, there were not a lot of guys who were combining road and cyclocross. Nowadays they are doing it. If you think back in time, would you like to be in this time?

Who is doing that? It is only Van der Poel, Pidcock, Van Aert with cyclocross and road. In the end, if they want to go for Olympics they have to decide where they want to focus. You cannot combine mountain biking and road cycling at the best level.

In mountain bike there is even a more aggressive style than on the road. In mountain bike you are sprinting for one hour and 20 minutes: full gas. It is more intense in the climb and in the downhill. You still have to have a good technique and to hold your bicycle to be smooth.

You are going to ride the Škoda Titan Desert Almería in October. What does the guys explain to you, what do you want to discover?

I will just try to enjoy the race. Hope I can finish. It is never sure. I am excited. It is going to be a new experience for me.  That is what I like. A new adventure.

Do you know anything about the area? Have you been there training?

Sure. I have been a lot of time there, also in Vuelta a España. Never in mountain bike tough.

The pro that come to the race usually say that sharing with the fans is one of the most special things about the race.

Yeah, for sure. It is nice. It is much easier and much nicer to talk to somebody if you are living the same experience than if you are not. If you are struggling and they want to talk…

You will be there also with Luis León Sánchez. Do you have any memories with him in the bunch?

We were talking a lot. He is one of the old school guys in the peloton. We know each other very well. We had a sprint in Tour Down Under. He was second and I won. It was very close in a very technical downhill finish. We have a lot of races together but never in the same team. Luis León is like a good friend from that time.

In November you will join us in the NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia.

Yeah, definitely I will be there in the NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia. I hope I can see all my fans there also.

Do you have any idea what you are going to discover there? An adventure, for sure.

Definitely is going to be another different adventure. I am looking forward for it.

We’ve got Almería and Saudi Arabia, but also have theŠkoda Titan Desert MoroccoA six stages race… Do you see yourself there in the future?

Let’s see how it is going. Maybe first the two easier ones because I heard Morocco is super hard. I just stopped with the cycling because I do not want to suffer so…

Maybe you can jump into the ebike category.

Is there also an ebike category? That’s a different story.

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