Peter Sagan has described Pope Francis as ‘cool’ after presenting the head of the Catholic church with a special rainbow jersey, as well as a bike decorated in the white and yellow colours of the Vatican flag and decorated with the Pope’s name.
“A chance to meet the Pope happens once in your life, if ever. I’m religious and my family is religious, so I was really happy to take my parents Helena and Lubomir with me,” Sagan told La Gazzetta dello Sport a few hours after attending the Pope’s weekly audience in St Peter’s Square and then meeting him in person.
“I like Pope Francis, he’s cool. He’s able to explain difficult concepts with just a few words. He’s an example for us all and plays an important role in the world. Even people who aren’t religious can find God, if they want, thanks to him.”
Sagan was clearly emotional as he and his parents greeted the Pope and gave him the rainbow jersey and bike, revealing details of their brief conversation.
“Pope Francis asked me to pray for him. I said I definitely would do. The Pope prays for all of us and so needs a lot of energy. That energy comes from us praying for him,” Sagan said.
“Believing in God can give you direction in life. It can help you see the good things in life even in a difficult moment, it reminds you not to judge other people before having judged yourself. Only God can really judge us.”
Sagan’s baby son was not baptised by the Pope as some media had suggested. Sagan is just happy that Marlon is healthy and allows him to sleep through the night.
“This was Marlon’s first trip and so we were curious to see how he behaved. He slept during the flight and when we visited Rome,” Sagan revealed.
“When it's time for us to sleep, he sleeps too. Everything is great so far…. I can’t understand what I’ve done to deserve a baby son like that.”
Best season ever
Sagan arrived back in Europe from the Tour Down Under on Tuesday and travelled to Rome in a private jet with his family on Wednesday. After meeting the Pope, while his parents visited the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican, Sagan visited Rome and then signed autographs and talked to the media at a local Specialized dealer.
After riding the Tour Down Under, he will soon head to Spain's Sierra Nevada for an altitude training camp before resuming his 2018 season and preparation for the Classics at Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico.
“This is my best season ever, at least for now…” he joked, pointing out that he had never won a race so early in the season. Sagan won the People's Choice Classic and stage 4 of the Santos Tour Down Under earlier this month.