Peter Sagan will rekindle his role from the 2017 Tour Down Under when this year's race kicks off January 14 with the People's Choice Classic. The three-time world champion arrived in Adelaide on January 5 and will open his season alongside Peter Kennaugh, Daniel Oss, Sam Bennett and Jay McCarthy as part of a strong Bora-hansgrohe team.
"This is the first race of the year and I'm here to try and compete with the best guys, but we'll see. I'm still working on my condition," Sagan told Cyclingnews ahead of a training ride on Wednesday.
In 2017, Sagan used the Tour Down Under as his first race of the campaign and spent much of the week leading out Bennett in the sprints. Although the team missed out on a stage, McCarthy finished third overall. This time around Sagan will replicate his leadout duties for Bennett, support McCarthy and take his own chances should an opportunity come his way.
"For this race, though, the aim is just to do my best but also help the other guys. We've got a really strong team at the Tour Down Under, and I'd like to try and help my teammates as much as possible. As for me, it's just a case of taking it one stage at a time a time. Like I said, the team is really good here and Jay is in good shape."
With Mitchelton-Scott sending a team focused on stage wins, Bora are one of the few teams capable of challenging BMC Racing, who head into the race with three former winners – Richie Porte, Rohan Dennis and Simon Gerrans. While Sagan is relaxed about the outcome of the race, and his main goals lie further down the line, he is aware that the Tour Down Under is useful race in order to lay down a marker for the months to come.
The race also marks a reunion with Daniel Oss, who transferred from BMC Racing. Oss and Sagan raced together at Liquigas before the pair went their separate ways. The Italian will be one of Sagan's chief helpers in the Spring Classics.
"This could be a really good race for us," Sagan said. "We have Daniel Oss, and he's a good friend. We've not raced together for five years, but for sure he's a great rider to have.
"The Tour Down Under is a nice race. It's the weather, it's the organisation and the race is nice. We're here to get in training, but by the time the race starts it'll be time to get racing."
Following the Tour Down Under, Sagan is due to head to Sierra Nevada in Spain for an altitude training camp.
La Gazzetta dello Sport reveals that he will also visit the Pope at the Vatican on January 24. Sagan will apparently ask Pope Francesco to baptise his son Marlon and also give the Pope a Specialized Venge bike decorated with the Papal insignia.