Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) continued his laid-back, chilled-out approach to bike racing, even as the hours counted down to the start of the Tour de France, using his unique sense of humour mixed with sincerity and bravado to bat away questions during the Tinkoff team's official press conference.
Sagan and Alberto Contador posed briefly for photographs but held separate press conferences. Contador's was a serious affair, and the Spaniard gave little away about his form and future. Sagan, on the other hand, spent as much time pushing back his ever longer locks of hair as he did thinking of serious answers to the questions. Of course, he was sincere and reflective in some moments but still refuses to take himself and the pressures of the Tour de France too seriously.
Sagan only stayed silent when asked about his future. He has been linked to most of the big teams in the WorldTour, but his final destination for 2017 and beyond remains unclear.
"We're only here to talk about the Tour de France," Gabriele Uboldi, the team's sponsorship manager said, butting in to stop Sagan answering a question about his possible move to Bora-Argon 18.
Sagan was happy to talk about his philosophy of racing and winning.
"In my life, I think that every day is one chance, so why not try," he said, when asked if he will again try to win every day, as he had promised last year but then failed to do.
"I want to try to win some stages, take the green jersey if possible and help Alberto Contador go for yellow, I think that's the bigger goal we have. I've tried to be in the yellow jersey for four years, but it's never happened. I think it's better not to try, so maybe it will happen. My idea is that if things happen they come along but if you look for them, they don't happen…"
Just one leader
Sagan confirmed that Contador is the team leader at Tinkoff this season. Beating Chris Froome (Team Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and the rest is far more important that the green jersey
"For sure we have just one leader: Alberto. If I can do something, that'd be nice too," Sagan said, insisting he has a good relationship with the Spaniard.
"We've been together for two years. We have a good relationship even if we're different kinds of riders. Alberto is a big champion, and I'm here also for him, to help him, as is all the team. I'm happy to be in a team that will try to win the yellow jersey."
Asked how he can help Contador during the next three weeks of racing, Sagan couldn't resist a joke.
"Maybe by taking him breakfast or lunch…" he joked. "It all depends on the stages, perhaps I can help him in the wind, it's difficult to say but I think I can do a lot of things during the stage. Of course, you can talk a lot before the race, it's more important to be good in the race. Facts are more important than words."
"If you think that you can die every day, you stay at home, no?" he said. "For sure it's not a comfortable situation but what can we do? We don't speak with other riders about it. There was an attack in Belgium, but we raced normally, and nothing happened. We can't predict if or where it can happen. It's difficult what to say. I'll just stay on the wheel and follow the others."
Quickly lightening the mood again, Sagan was elusive about his chances of success in the sprint finishes.
"I don't think it's important on how I feel, it depends on results," he said. “Was I quick in the Tour de Suisse? One stage I won in a break and how was the other? Was it a sprint? Maybe I was lucky… but I feel good."
Sagan played down any suggestions about pressure or desire to be recognised as a legend in the sport.
"I never started with that idea. It's a dream to be here, and the most important thing is to enjoy it. Where my future lies, I don't now," he said.
"I don't know how to answer about being under pressure. I live my life and not in the skin of another rider. Others have worn the world champion's jersey and won races. We'll see what happens in life.… It hasn't made a big difference for me, I try to take the positive in life, not the negatives."
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