Peter Sagan has dismissed a suggestion that his move to the TotalEnergies ProTeam is a first step towards retirement, insisting he is not done yet, with ambitions in the spring Classics and the rest of the 2022 season in his new TotalEnergies colours.
The three-time World Champion turns 32 on January 26 and is about to start his 13th season at WorldTour level. Bora-Hansgrohe opted to let Sagan go and invested instead in younger riders. He and his agent Giovanni Lombardi were not afraid to look for alternatives and joined forces with TotalEnergies team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau, bringing key sponsors Sportful and Specialized to the team, along with key staff, his brother Juraj, Daniel Oss and Maciej Bodnar.
Sagan has been through two testing seasons as the sport and the world fought the COVID-19 pandemic. He won two stages at the Giro d’Italia and the points jersey in the Corsa Rosa in 2021 but struggled to be competitive in the Classics. He was caught in a crash when Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) went down on stage 3 of the Tour de France and eventually quit the race before stage 12.
He is currently in isolation at home in Monaco after catching COVID-19 for a second time and the virus risks again derailing his January training and so his spring campaign.
Yet he remains stoic. When French newspaper L’Equipe asked him if he felt hurt when people suggest that TotalEnergies could be his ‘maison de retraite’, he insisted he is not done, as he assured in an amusing video from Sportful to present the new TotalEnergies racing colours.
“I don't care what other people think. If you pay attention to everything people say about you, it can be very destructive. I don't worry about it,” Sagan told L’Equipe, insisting he was also not afraid of not winning as he once did.
"I don't think about it that much,” he said. “It's true that in 2020 I only won once, but it was a special year, with the Covid pandemic, and I don't think we can draw any conclusions from that.
“I’m not afraid because since I first started racing, I’ve learned one thing: when you stay focused, success will come. Of course, you have to have the will to do it but I know I have that. If I don't win one day, I start all over again the next day.
"The only time I thought about quitting was way before, in 2015, because of some knee and hip problems. I had overtrained and couldn't take it anymore before the start of the season. But I took care of myself and was back on track. I won a stage of the Tour of California, then the Tour of Flanders, then Paris-Roubaix, the green jersey at the Tour, the World Championships… And I'm still here now."
Sagan tested positive for COVID-19 as he was preparing to head to the TotalEnergies training camp in Spain. Now he has to stay in isolation until at least Monday and then undergo medical check-ups before joining his new teammates.
He was due to make his debut in TotalEnergies colours at the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina but the race was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with teams preferring to stay in Europe and adjust their race programmes. Sagan will probably race more in France in 2022, perhaps opting for Paris-Nice instead of Tirreno-Adriatico but his goals remain the same.
“I still don't know where I'm going to start my season. As I am ill, I will surely have to delay my recovery. It will depend on how I feel. But my goals remain the spring classics,” he said.
“My goals this season are not only personal. I’m well aware that the team recruited me to score points, to try to join the World Tour. I think we can do very well on the Flandrian classics because there is already a good group around Anthony Turgis, Nicki Terpstra, Edwald Boasson Hagen, Adrien Petit and now me and my long-time teammates, Oss, and Bodnar."
Sagan has created his own team of riders and staff within TotalEnergies but insisted it’s not his own clique, even though his French is not great.
“I didn't feel anything negative during the first get together, everyone seemed happy that I was there. I felt welcome, there is a family atmosphere,” Sagan claimed.
“Jean-René Bernaudeau always has a smile on his face and his team seems like that to me: it’s about riding the bike with a smile. He talks about results of course, but above all about pleasure. And that has always been my state of mind, since the beginning of my career.
“Of course, I have responsibilities and I accept them. But it's easier in a team that smiles instead of one that complains.”
There is something new for 2022Il y a quelque chose de nouveau pour 2022@sportful @TeamTotalEnrg #Sportful #PeterSagan #TeamTotalEnergies #AllezTotalEnergies pic.twitter.com/wbLU4exGRSJanuary 7, 2022
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