It is little coincidence that Peter Sagan's seven victories this season, including Paris-Roubaix, three stage wins and the green jersey at the Tour de France were all secured with the assistance of Daniel Oss.
The Italian, who Sagan brought to Bora-Hansgrohe at the start of the 2018 campaign, has been a significant ally in the Classics and stage races, carrying on from his role at BMC Racing, where he worked for Greg Van Avermaet. With his sights set on helping Bora in the Classics and the Tour de France once more in 2019, Oss has plenty of responsibility on his shoulders but the 31-year-old hasn't given up the dream of one day winning one of cycling's biggest prizes of all.
"This year, it was cool. It was perfect. I liked it," Oss tells Cyclingnews at Bora's recent training camp in Mallorca, Spain.
"I was really happy about Paris-Roubaix, the green jersey at the Tour, our first race together at the Tour Down Under where Peter had a win, so we started well and finished well."
Oss played a pivotal role in many of Sagan's successes this year, but perhaps none more so than in Paris-Roubaix, where he covered several counter attacks after Sagan had attacked the main group of favourites roughly 50 kilometres from home. Although he is not a leadout man, Oss can also play his role in sprints, and adds vital experience and horsepower to the German team.
"Maybe not," he says with a deep laugh when asked if his place alongside Sagan in all seven of this year's victories was a coincidence.
"I want to say no but for sure Peter won because he's Peter. He's strong and a champion but around him he has positive energy, good advice around the table, and that also makes a huge difference."
At this point in 2017, when Oss moved to Bora, the Italian told Cyclingnews that he joined the team because Sagan inspired his teammates to ride better but Sagan's presence also ensures that there is stability within the team. Although other riders are given their chances, and Sagan is no stranger to working for others, there is one true leader when it really matters most.
"Maybe it's about trust," says Oss. "I can tell you Pete's done more. He's inspired me and more guys to give even more. I like him because whether he wins or loses he just puts it behind him and moves onto the next race. Not everyone is like that.
"You feel like you'd die for your teammates. Not in a real sense, of course, but that's the mentality I have in cycling. This is the kind of sport where you need to step back if you can't win, and that if you can't win then you have to ride for your team. It doesn't matter who wins on your team, you just have to support them. I don't mind who wins on this team, it doesn't matter, as long as we win."
Oss pinpoints this year's edition of Paris-Roubaix as a prime example of Sagan's talent backed up by devoted teammates.
"We knew all about Quick-Step. They won Flanders a week before and they were amazing all year. For us, they were the most dangerous team and we said at the dinner table the night before that we needed to cover their tactics, and we were telling Peter not to move, and to just wait. In the race he decided to go alone, and some moments you can't plan. We were surprised too. We just had to cover all the moves."
Oss' development as one of the best domestiques in the peloton has taken time but it is a role he as devoted himself to since turning professional with Liquigas in 2009.
"I didn't know about the Classics but they put me there because I was tall, I had power and I was big," he says.
"I was there with Bennati, Quinziato, and guys with a lot of experience. I fell in love with the Classics, because I understood that only the champions could win. I tried to do my best, I still do, and I still have the dream and ambition of winning but after 10 years I understand my limit. I can't say that tomorrow I'll win a Classics but I can say that tomorrow, if I have a chance, I could be a good outsider.
"Being a domestic has been an evolution. I like to keep the dream, because that's what makes us different. But when you arrive at a point and have Peter Sagan at your side, it's really special. He's not a normal champion."
While the dream remains of one day wining a major race for himself, Oss is comfortable with the idea of sacrificing all of his chances for the greater good of the team, and its leader.
"In the end, it doesn't matter in terms of the responsibility on your shoulders but this team has grown a lot, and we've finished on the podium in the WorldTour rankings. That's down to a lot of riders, not just Peter. This team has made a lot of improvements and I hope that we can keep going in this direction."
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