First Grand Tour for Slovak sensation
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) will line-up at the start of his first Grand Tour on Saturday, as he aims to help propel teammate Vincenzo Nibali to his second straight Vuelta a España win.
The 21-year-old sensation will look for stage wins as well as making it to the race finish in Madrid on September 11.
“This is a completely new experience for me so I’m curious to see how I’ll perform over three weeks,” Sagan said.
“Even though they’ve been demanding I’ve only ever competed in short stage races until now and this will be totally different. I need to keep my form consistent throughout the race without too many dips in performance if I want to get to Madrid.
"The parcours features a series of really tough stages so it’ll be hard but exciting as well. I love challenges and this one is definitely a major challenge.”
Sagan will have a number of opportunities to win his first Grand Tour stage. Able to compete with the best sprinters in the world, he can also climb, as demonstrated by his impressive stage win at the Tour de Suisse earlier this year. Despite his fast rise to the top of the sport since turning professional last year, Liquigas-Cannondale has wisely eased Sagan into stage racing, saving him from the pressure and hype of this year's Tour.
“Everything has worked out well so far and I’ve managed to compete at the highest levels thanks to good training and preparation," said Sagan. "I’d love to win a stage, that’s obvious, but I don’t want to build up too many expectations or put pressure on myself. I’ve tried to keep a cool head when racing since I’ve turned pro, and I always focus on learning something new and that’s what I’ll do at the Vuelta too.
"I know there’s a massive amount of fierce competition but I don’t want to think about it. I just want to race and give it 100 percent: up to now I think that’s worked alright."