Sporting a 1970s-style moustache to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Hansgrohe company and sitting next to long-standing teammate Daniel Oss, who will drop him off in the sprints and shepherd him in the mountains, Sagan occasionally rolled out his "we'll see…" reply to requests for race predictions but appeared hungry to race.
"I think this is the 10th Tour de France of my life, so what are my expectations? To do my best with the team," he said before warming up to the audience and opening up.
"The first thing is to win stages and then another is the green jersey if possible. As we saw last year, winning green is not that easy. We’ll see how it goes."
Sagan has a haul of Tour de France memories but believes there are more good things to come.
"My best moments include winning my first stage, my first green jersey and my first yellow jersey, then what? There were also some big crashes, my record of seven green jerseys. What else? I think it's enough in nine years," he joked.
And what’s missing? Sagan delved deep into his athlete’s psyche.
"During my career I always try to do my best because if you do that then the good things keep coming. I believe in that. That's why I’ve surprised myself all my career. I’ve explored my limits but sometimes there are no limits - there's still something to explore."
This year’s opening stage to Landerneau and the rising finish above the valley town seems made to measure for Sagan to explore his 2021 limits after already overcoming COVID-19 during the pre-season, followed by a truncated Classics campaign, the Giro d’Italia and, most recently, taking the Slovakian national title.
He has already won similar stages at the Tour in northern France and has the climbing power, sprinting finesse and tactical nous to win on Saturday. However, as Sagan grows older, new rivals have emerged who can match and even better his prowess.
The Landerneau finish also suits Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), with other sprinters and power riders as possible contenders. Two years ago, Sagan would have been virtually unbeatable on the finish, but now he will have to be at his very best to win and take the first yellow jersey.
"We’ll see," Sagan said naturally, without making any detailed prediction. "I always try to do my best. But there are a lot of guys in the bunch interested. Maybe not the pure sprinters but there are still a lot of guys like Alaphilippe, [Sonny] Colbrelli and others. And maybe even me. It always depends on how the race is going."
Sagan only turned slightly serious when asked about his future and if this Tour de France could be important in deciding which team he will ride for in 2022. His contract at Bora-Hansgrohe ends this year and he has made it clear that if the German WorldTour team don’t want to keep him, he will simply move elsewhere.
Sagan was linked to Deceuninck-QuickStep due to his long-standing relationship and personal sponsorship with bike sponsor Specialized. However, team manager Patrick Lefevere has baulked at requests to sign Sagan and his significant entourage of teammates and staff. French ProTeam TotalEnergies are now considered favourites to sign him to tap into his success and global profile.
"Everyone knows I can’t talk about my future until August 1 but everyone is speaking about it and everyone keeps asking about it and wants to know about it. But I can’t answer," Sagan said, a little frustrated.
"I’m still in the game and I don’t think my future will change if the Tour de France goes well or not. I've nothing to prove. I just want to do my best. We’ll see later what is going to happen in the future."
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