During the ten laps of the Cancer Council Helpline Classic in which Lance Armstrong was away at the front, there was a rookie with the oldie. Peter Sagan hasn’t turned 20 yet but he made a strong showing in his first race.
Afterwards, he was delighted to have been under the spotlights. “This is my first race as a pro with Liquigas”, said the young Slovak from Zilina. “When I saw Armstrong breaking away, I decided to go as well, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it.”
“It was amazing to be up there with him, and especially to see him taking such long turns”, Sagan added. “Unfortunately, the peloton didn’t let us go away too much.”
The teenager remembered watching the Tour de France on TV as he grew up, but admitted his favourite rider wasn’t Armstrong but Jan Ullrich. “I was a fan of Armstrong, too”, he added. As a former mountain biker, he’s got some sympathy for Cadel Evans as well.
At Liquigas-Doimo, Sagan is regarded as the successor of Roman Kreuziger, being a super talent from the former Czechoslovakia who came to the team at a very young age. Like the Czech climber who finished ninth in last year’s Tour de France, the Slovak also has a strong off-road background.
In 2008, he was the junior world champion in mountain biking, second at the cyclo-cross world championship and fourth in the world road race.
The Santos Tour Down Under isn’t his first visit to Australia, as he was here four months ago for the mountain bike World championship, where he finished 4th in the U-23 category.
“I’m not new to road racing”, he underlined. “I’ve done a lot of races on the road as a junior and I’m ready to start my career.”
Looking to the future, the youngster concluded: “I know that Armstrong is 19 years older than me but I wouldn’t mind to still be racing in 19 years from now. I love this job.”