Sagan won stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia to Tortoreto by going on the attack rather than trusting his sprint. He took six top five finishes in Italy and five at the Tour de France but failed to win a stage. He also missed out on an eighth green points jersey, with Sam Bennett consistently better in the intermediate sprints, and Caleb Ewan, Bennett and Wout van Aert faster in the finishes. He was also relegated for elbowing Van Aert on stage 11, despite claiming he was trying to avoid an extruding bollard along the barriers.
Some people were quick to suggest that Sagan is in decline as Bora-Hansgrohe seem to build for a future without him after his current contract expires after the 2021 season.
Sagan doesn’t see it that way.
"When you win a lot, you raise people's expectations but often there's only a centimetre between first and second but people only remember the winner," he suggested to La Gazzetta dello Sport as he looked back at his first-ever Giro d'Italia.
"I do my best and don't listen to what people say. I take what I can get.
"I didn't have a Giro stage win on my palmares, now I do. That makes me happy. I liked the way I won it: by going on the attack, suffering and fighting for it. I think people liked the way I won it, too. That's important to me. It can't be compared to a world title or anything but it'll always have a special place in my heart."
Sagan was one of a handful of riders to compete in both the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia, opting to miss the Classics when they were rescheduled to the same time as the Corsa Rosa.
He spent the spring COVID-19 lockdown in Monaco, training on the rollers in the gym and then spending as much time as possible with his young son Marlon.
Sagan does not blame the lockdown for his lack of victories in 2020.
"I don't think it was easy for anyone to prepare for the season after the lockdown," he said.
"Perhaps the riders who were able to train outdoors and didn't face a full lockdown had an advantage. If you have to stay at home and can only ride the rollers and do gym work for six weeks, you definitely noticed the difference.
"But we then had time to prepare for the rescheduled season. I did more training camps this year than in the past. It was a short but very intense racing season."
Sagan has 114 victories on his palmares, often taking a double-digit number of victories each season. Sagan burst onto the world stage by winning two stages at the 2010 Paris-Nice. He went on to win his seven green points jersey at the Tour de France, his three world titles and string of Classics victories, all while becoming the biggest star of the peloton.
"Everything changes. Nobody is the same as they were a decade ago. It's the same for us racers. But I still want to race. I still like cycling," Sagan said, shrugging off any suggestions of a decline.
"I'm happy with what impact I have and how the fans enjoy what I do.
"I'm not sure every season is more difficult, I think each season is different. If I win 20 races in 2021 I'm sure people will quickly say I'm back. That'd be wrong too. I'm here, I'm not done yet."
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