Peter Sagan unveiled a new look Cannondale bike for the Tour de France decorated with green 'Hulk' eyes. He refused to reveal details of any planned victory salutes but he confirmed that he targeting a second green point jersey and has the full backing of the Cannondale team.
Sagan turned 23 in January and has developed and matured quickly in 12 months. He has a goatee beard and is leaner this year, but is as determined, relaxed and confident as ever.
"It's my second Tour de France and I'm happy to be back. There's perhaps more pressure but I'm also more relaxed about it all," he said in his pre-race press conference on Friday afternoon, switching from Italian to English with the same ease he often beats his rivals in sprints.
"After taking the green jersey in my first Tour, we've got an even bigger objective this year: the same things but with more expectations for the green jersey. Last year I hoped to win it and gain experience. This year we know it's possible and we've built a team to defend it."
Sagan is targeting Saturday's first stage finish in Bastia in the hope of taking the first yellow jersey, but he knows he can also take yellow on stage two or three because he can handle the climbs better than any pure sprinter. However, the yellow jersey is just a goal for the early part of the Tour. The big goal is to again reach Paris in green and climb on the podium in the Champs Elysees, all while having fun on his bike.
"The first stage is the first step in this Tour de France but the race last 21 days, not one," he pointed out.
"It could go well tomorrow or maybe not good and it could turn out to be a bad day. We'll see. Whatever happens I know I can make up for it the day after or later in the race."
"It's difficult to predict what will happen in the race. It'll be a battle from start to finish. To finish the Tour without any problems is almost possible. Every rider has a bad day. Maybe I won't win any stages or maybe I'll win a lot."
Chasing points on every stage
Sagan dominated the points competition last year, winning three stages on the way to Paris and racking up 421 points during the 21 stages. Andre Greipel was a distant second with 280 points.
He will again use his better all-around ability to score points in intermediate sprints, on hilly stages, where the pure sprinters will struggle, and also take on the likes of Mark Cavendish, Greipel and Marcel Kittel in the hectic high-speed finishes.
"For sure I've got to do something every day," he said.
"I'm not just a sprinter, I can do a lot of things in hillier stages and come up with something. We've selected a team to help me in the sprints but also control the harder stages and take intermediate sprints."
Sagan will no-doubt clash with his rival sprinters but despite the rivalry in the Tour de France, he insisted he does not really have any enemies in the peloton. He was pleased to hear that Cadel Evans had earlier named him one of the riders that inspires him.
"I've got respect for the older riders like Evans or Contador, Gilbert or Boonen. I'm new to cycling and I'm winning a lot now and I'm happy they accept me. Perhaps they like that I win," he said.
"Before I was a professional, I looked at them like idols. Now I'm in the peloton with them things have changed, they're more like friends. I like that because we all do the same job, we all racing together and have the same lifestyle. It's nice to have friends in the peloton. I'm sure I've got so enemies too, but I prefer to be friends with everyone."
Secret victory celebration plans
The You Tube video of Sagan 'parking' his bike on a car roof has already been seen 350,000 times and his Forrest Gump and Hulk victory celebrations in last year's Tour de France also captured huge attention. He said his working on his plans to entertain people with other, equally as original victory celebrations this year.
"I started thinking about them yesterday, I've been talking to some friends and my teammates but I'm not going to say what my plans are for now," he said.
"But I think it's nice to put on a show for the fans and entertain them. People take holidays to come and watch races, so its good to give them something special, to thank them for watching."
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