Peter Sagan: If I can be an example for someone, it's a good thing

The world champion talks about the importance of being himself

It is almost impossible to understand how Peter Sagan will react to questions after races; he can be profound, sensitive or playful, dismissive of simple questions, responding with a shrug of the shoulders, his deep laugh or slug of sarcasm. He does not seem to care about being politically correct or following the guidelines of media training.

Most of the time he is simply himself. Take it or leave it.

At Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Sagan seemed irritated to have lost to Greg Van Avermaet and even slightly aloof. Following his victory at Tirreno-Adriatico, Sagan was relaxed and happy to talk to the mostly Italian media, who tried to understand what makes him tick.

Italian television journalist Alessandra di Stefano reminded Sagan that last year he cited Kurt Cobain's famous phrase: "They laugh at me because I'm different; I laugh at them because they're all the same."

She asked if that phrase represented who he was.

"I think it's important to be yourself. We've all got a personality. I think we've got to believe in ourselves," he explained this time, expressing himself far better in Italian than in English – his third language.

"Press conferences are important for people to know a bit more about me or the race. But if you ask me about tomorrow's stage, I can only say: if they don't cancel the stage, a climber will win… There are good and bad questions, I just answer them."

Sagan accepted that a lot of people admire him for his bike riding ability but also for bring different, for being himself.

"We'll see how long I last. It's always harder…" Sagan said. "I'm happy if people see me like that. If I can be an example for someone, it's a good thing."

Talking about his sprinting

Sagan was happier talking about his winning sprint in Montalto di Castro. Last year he was too far forward on the fast run into the finish and the kick up to the line and was beaten by Fernando Gaviria. He ensured he did not make the same mistake this time.

"The sprint went well for me. I'm happy to win and happy to thank team - we did a good job. It was nervous in the peloton in the last 60km but I'm happy it finished well," Sagan explained.

"I remembered last year's sprint very well, and I was too far up. The guys had helped me in the last kilometre but after there's the descent and the kick up, so I remembered to take it from a bit further back this time. There was also some wind this time."

"I saw Elia and so decided to stay on his wheel. He was too far up like me last year. We got to 250 metres to go and he had to go, but it was too far out on a rising finish like that."

Sagan signed off with some more of his simple philosophy when asked what winning sprints in March mean for the big Classics in April.

"Last year I didn't win, and I won Flanders…" he said, with a hint of Sagan sarcasm.

"It's always important to feel good. It's not about victories, the second or third place. We'll see how we come into the Classics."

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