Peter Sagan on fourth Worlds title in 2018: Nothing is impossible
Triple world champion believes he can contend on hilly Innsbruck course
The magnitude of Peter Sagan's achievement in becoming world champion for a third consecutive year hadn't completely sunk in before people started wondering about the possibility of a fourth.
On Sunday the Slovakian became one of only five riders to win the elite men's World Championships road race three times, and the first to win them consecutively.
"Let me enjoy this title, I don't want to think about next year," he said in the immediate aftermath of his victory.
However, he has since opened up a little more about the prospect of a fourth straight title in 2018, saying that "nothing is impossible", despite the amount of climbing on the route in Innsbruck, Austria.
While Richmond in 2015 and Bergen this year provided punchy courses that are perfectly suited to the 27-year-old, and Qatar last year threw up a more traditional bunch sprint, the Innsbruck course, unveiled last week, contains 4,670 metres of altitude gain.
Speaking to Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport at a mountainbike event this week, Sagan dismissed the notion that he could target Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Il Lombardia – races with similar loads of climbing – next season.
"I'm almost 80 kilograms. Don't believe those who say I'm 73-74kg – my weight varies between 78 and 79kg," he said. "How can I win those races?"
However, Sagan suggested that, with adjustments to his training and preparation, a fourth world title might not be out of the question.
"Nothing is impossible," Sagan said in the Gazzetta interview.
"On Sunday, the total altitude gain was 3,600 metres, so we are not far away. With the right preparation, I think I could be able to go for it, but let's see.
"If I find the same condition I had when I finished with [Vincenzo] Nibali at Tirreno-Adriatico..." he added, referring to his victory on stage 4 of the 2012 edition of the Italian stage race.
Sagan will find encouragement in the fact that Greg Van Avermaet, a rider with a similar skill-set, produced an upset last year by winning the Olympics road race in Rio on a course which had more than 4,500 metres of climbing. Van Avermaet also finished 11th at this year's Liege-Bastogne-Liege, where fourth place went to Michael Matthews, who ended Sagan's run of green jerseys at this year's Tour de France and finished behind him on the Worlds podium in 2015 and 2017.
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