Three men’s world championships in a row isn’t enough for Peter Sagan. The recently crowned triple winner told La Gazzetta dello Sport he’s not discounting a run at a fourth consecutive rainbow jersey next year in Innsbruck.
“Nothing is impossible,” Sagan told the Italian sports daily. “With the right preparation, I believe I could have a chance. We’ll see.”
Many think that could be a big ask. The Austrian worlds circuit, at least at first glance, looks too hard for Sagan. With a total vertical gain of 4,670 meters — about 1,000 meters more than in Bergen — the course looks ideal for leaner climbers.
Circuit racing, however, requires a different approach to how a similar course might be tackled in a stage race or even a one-day classic. Smaller national teams and a diverse international field means that the dominance of some trade teams is diluted in world’s racing. Sagan is also an expert at managing his efforts, and should never been counted out when it comes to the worlds.
On Sunday, Sagan joined the “three-win club” in dramatic fashion by pipping Alexander Kristoff after expertly managing the closing 4 kilometers of the race. The win brings him equal to the mark set by Alfredo Binda, Rik Van Steenbergen, Eddy Merckx and Oscar Freire, but he is the first to win three in a row.
A winner across distinct courses, with 2015 in Richmond and 2016 in Qatar, Sagan compared his three victories.
“Each one is different,” he said. “Against different rivals, different courses, and different ambiance, but always with the same magic. This one was the most difficult.”
When looking ahead to cycling’s other monuments — Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Giro di Lombardia — Sagan admitted those races could be a bridge too far. Speaking earlier this season to VeloNews, sport director Patxi Vila said Sagan might one day take on the climbing classics, but said the immediate focus is on the northern classics. Sagan hedged on his chances in the hillier classics.
“I am nearly 80kg, so I don’t have real chances against riders with 73-74kg,” he said. “I usually race with 78-79kg, so how I am going to win these races?”
Sagan won’t be racing for the remainder of the season, so his official debut in his latest rainbow jersey won’t come until 2018. After having worn it since 2015, the look shouldn’t be that different.