Peter Sagan gives nothing away ahead of Tour de France opener

Slovak to begin bid for record-breaking seventh green jersey in Brussels

Peter Sagan is once again the favourite to take the green points jersey at the Tour de France, but was in no mood to give anything away ahead of the race start in Brussels on Saturday.

The Bora-Hansgrohe leader was inscrutable as he took questions from the press ahead of his bid to take a record-breaking seventh green jersey. He batted away questions about his chances at the race, hinting that his legs will do the talking over the next three weeks.

"It's obvious," he said when asked if his form at the recent Tour de Suisse signalled his Tour de France intentions. "I want to try to take another green jersey, that's for sure. But it's also very important to finish the Tour de France."

The Slovak was in strong - if not dominant - form in Switzerland, finishing on the podium four times, taking one stage win and the points jersey. If nothing else, it showed he was ready for this month's challenge, having put a disappointing spring campaign firmly behind him.

"No," he stated when asked if he was under any pressure. "I have already raced here eight times and I know the rules of the Tour de France. The more relaxed you are, it's much better.

"In every Tour something can surprise you. We'll see what is going to happen this year."

Sagan will have up to a dozen chances to taste victory at the Tour, including a number of hilly finishes that should see the more traditional sprinters out of contention for the win.

Saturday's 194.5-kilometre opening stage is the first such opportunity, with an uphill finish (three per cent for half a kilometre) outside the Castle of Laeken in Brussels. Sagan has every chance to open his account with a 12th career stage victory, although If he was confident about it, he was playing his cards close to his chest.

"Do you know how many riders are focussed on the first stage," he laughed. "It's going to be hard but then somebody has to win.

"I don't want to think about Saturday now. There's still one more day."

As for his main contenders for green, he was reticent once again, saying only: "We'll see after the first week. Everybody [has a chance] – it could be anyone."

Sagan has yet to win an opening stage of the Tour de France, though history suggests success comes sooner rather than later. In 2012, 2016, and at last year's race, he took victory on the second day. That may change this time around. In the words of the man himself: "We'll see."

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