Such is the clamour for the three-time world champion that race organiser Mike Turtur – who has always looked to attract high-profile names in order to draw the Adelaide crowds – began waxing lyrical over Sagan's participation in the race almost without prompting during the pre-race press conference on Saturday.
In fact, Sagan had to say very little of note in order for the local media to be drawn in, but come Sunday, at the People's Choice Classic, it will be his legs that finally do the talking.
The Bora-Hansgrohe team head into the criterium and the Tour Down Under proper with arguably the best line-up they've had in Australia. Jay McCarthy is a genuine contender for the GC, while Daniel Oss and Peter Kennaugh bolster what was already an impressive squad.
The form of sprinter Sam Bennett is somewhat of an unknown given a recent head cold but the consensus seems to be that Sagan could run riot in terms of GC and stages at this race if only his motivation matched his undoubted talent. Stage 4, with its lumpy parcours and downhill dash to the line, has Sagan's name written all over it, for example.
At the press conference in downtown Adelaide, however, Sagan quickly dispelled any pressure on his own shoulders, pointing to Bora's collective search for results, rather than his own ambitions.
"That's a pleasure to hear that I'm the best lead-out man by Jay but for sure we're here for Jay and for Sam Bennett. We'll see what we can do in the race but for sure we're a stronger team than in previous years," Sagan said.
"Why am I here? Well, I hope that it's good preparation. I can get in some good kilometres and it's good weather here so I can train well over the last ten days. The season is starting."
Part of the Tour Down Under’s love affair with Sagan, as Turtur was keen to play up, is the fact that the rider made his WorldTour debut here in 2010. He made it into a break that contained established stars at the time and although he later crashed in the race Turtur was impressed by his character and desire to put on a show.
"It was my first WorldTour race and I met some famous riders here," Sagan said without naming the likes of Lance Armstrong and Cadel Evans.
"That was a nice experience. I also crashed but I survived. It was [a] good time. But it's a nice calm race. We're in the same race hotel, it's nice weather and there's no stress."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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