Sagan: I'm not in my best shape after my sickness

Outgoing world champion shrugs off pressure to win a third title

Peter Sagan revealed he spent three days off his bike due to illness last week but typically shrugged off any suggestion he is under pressure to win a third consecutive world title in Bergen.

Sagan arrived in Norway late on Friday and has no plans to head to downtown Bergen to ride the World Championships road race course.

"We have to do it 11 times, right? I think there's a lot of time to see it. I could go today but I don't want to," Sagan said about his reconnaissance plans, clearly in a talkative move despite his illness.

"I hope my form is good. I had a little sickness last week. We'll see how it goes. For sure after my sickness I'm not in my best shape but I'll do my best."

He denied his illness was any kind of tactical move.

"I was 3 days without riding the bike and then started with easy rides. Now I'm here… We'll see."

The rolling course in Bergen suits him and his multitude of talents mean that he could win from a small group that forms on the last climb of Salmon Hill or wait for a sprint finish.

Sagan's recent win at the Grand Prix de Quebec confirmed he had worked hard at altitude in late August and early September. The 267km race distance will reveal if his recent illness has caused his form to dip.

Sagan could become the first ever rider to win a third consecutive world title but despite the expectation of a 'three-peter,' the weight of history has never weighed heavy on his shoulders.

"What is pressure?" Sagan asked. "I don't like to talk about making history or about the future. What will happen will happen. I've nothing to lose; I'm here to enjoy myself. I'm happy with what I've achieved and I want to enjoy tomorrow's race."

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No specific race tactic in mind

When the questions turned to his rivals and his race tactics, Sagan joked that his biggest rival could be himself.

"In truth, there are a lot of people, starting with Edvald Boasson Hagen and Alexander Kristoff of Norway. They're racing at home in Norway, that's got to be a big motivation for them," Sagan said.

"I don't know about their relationship but Kristoff could wait for the sprint, Edvald will probably go before that.

"Other rivals include Greg Van Avermaet, Michael Matthews and Michal Kwiatkowski. What happens depends on the day. Anything could happen after 267k and seven hours of racing.

Sagan turned serious and slightly vindictive when a journalist told him that Kwiatkowski had said he hopes to go in a decisive break with Sagan.

"So that I pull him and then he beats me in the sprint?" Sagan asked, clearly not having forgotten his defeat by the Pole at this year's Milan-San Remo.

"For sure I think you learn all your life in everything you do," he added, insisting he has no specific tactic in his mind for the finale of the road race. Nor is he worried about his rivals riding against him, as recently occurred at the Grand Prix de Montreal.

"I'm not worried about that. The World Championships is much more important than Montreal. It depends on my legs not on me.

"I don't think about different race scenarios. We'll see what happens on the last two laps. I won't prepare for or expect anything. I'll just ride for the moment."

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