Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) added another win to his record number of stage victories at the Tour of California on Sunday, increasing his all-time haul to 17 wins and bolstering his 'King of California' nickname – although it was only his second win of the 2019 season.
In the press conference following the race's opening stage, Sagan launched into his familiar refrain after wins, thanking his teammates their hard work and saying he was "very happy" to win.
"They kept me at the front, and in the end we stayed with a few riders in the sprint, and I won today," the three-time road race world champion said. "I'm very happy, and also congrats to my teammate Pascal Ackermann. He also won today [Sunday] at the Giro d'Italia, so we've had a double win for the team today, which is very nice."
This is obviously not the first time the King of California has worn the race leader's yellow jersey, but Sagan said his fans shouldn't look for him to be wearing it after Monday's second stage to South Lake Tahoe.
"It's important to have the yellow jersey [later on] with maybe Felix Großshartner or Max Schachmann, but it's not necessary for tomorrow, so we'll see," he said. "For sure, we're not going to hold onto it with me, so we'll see how it goes tomorrow."
No matter what happens over the rest of the race, Sagan can be pleased to once again see signs of the form that has led him to six green points jerseys at the Tour de France. But he's not reading too much into Sunday's win and what it means for his chances of success in France this July.
"The Tour de France is still far away, and it's much different there sprinting after 200km after all the climbs compare to today after 140km when it was all flat," he said. "We'll see day-by-day here how it's going. There are still a lot of stages, and it's going to be much harder than today."
Sunday's win also marked another return of sorts for Sagan, who had won at least one stage at the Tour of California every year since he first came to the race in 2010 – until last year, when he was unable to take a stage victory.
"I stopped for a year," he said. "Last year I didn't win, so I'm very happy that I could catch another one, and if I continue like this, then it's going to be nice to hold some kind of record here at the Tour of California."
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake before studying English and journalism at the University of Oregon. He has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon.
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