Sagan dominated the 2012 Tour of California with five stage wins.
At just 22, Peter Sagan is already being touted as one of the most talented young riders in the Pro peloton. The Liquigas-Cannondale rider is already starting his third pro season and made a big breakthrough with his win in last year's Tour of Poland.
Truly equipped with natural talent to be a great cycling champion, Sagan was born in Žilina, Slovakia and showed his talent early on with the Dukla Trencín Mérida team. In 2007 he was named "talent of the year in Slovak cycling“ and in 2008, Sagan won the Junior World MTB Championship in Italy as well as finishing second at Junior World Cyclocross Championships in Treviso and Junior Paris–Roubaix.
At the young age of just 19 years old, Sagan signed a pro contract with Liquigas and the team doctors were very impressed with his great VO2 max test, natural physical strength and blood lactate test (shows recovery capabilities). Since his pro debut Sagan has notched 20 wins already and will make his Tour de France debut this July. On his way to the Tour, Sagan has enjoyed a fine spring classics campaign, winning the group sprint at Milan-Sanremo for fourth, an excellent second place at Ghent-Wevelgem, a strong fifth at the Tour of Flanders and a close third at the Amstel Gold Race.
Road Bike Action caught up with the young phenom following his near win at the Amstel Gold race to talk about the 2012 season so far, his training, and his future goals which of course include his upcoming Tour de France debut.
SLOVAKIA'S OWN SUPERMAN
"I know I have a tough season ahead of me this year, as I’m going to ride my first Tour of France followed
by the Olympic road race, so this season preparation is more important than ever." During the winter months, Sagan prefers to build his early season base near the hometown of his youth where he rides his mountain bike in the hills of Malá Fatra National Park. After team training camps and a return to Slovakia for the Christmas holidays, Peter Sagan returns to his home (away from home) base in northeast Italy to continue to build his base miles in January and February. In the past two years, Sagan has pushed his preparation to be ready early in the season, but for 2012 he will look to peak later, first at the Tour of California and then for the Tour and Olympics.
"My preparation builds up to rides of four to five hours a day, then we start racing in mid-February so I change my training session based on the races. At Liquigas-Cannondale, our preparatore (conditioning coach) is Paolo Slongo and he gives us the specific training programs to follow and monitors our results. As the classics get closer, like Milano-Sanremo that is seven hours, we will have some longer rides to get used to this time on the bike. But I would much rather race than train!"
Sometimes Peter trains with his older brother Juraj, also a pro on the Liquigas-Cannondale squad, with whom he shares his apartment in Italy. "Juraj and I don't always have the same race program, so we train together when we can. Otherwise I meet up with guys from the team who live nearby, like Mauro Da Dalto or Tiziano dall'Antonio. We meet up at different places, like a coffee bar and then have different routes we take together, depending on the training schedules. During the rides I like to stop once in a while and have a coffee. Then we keep on going…I like to stop because it breaks up the long training rides and we get to know the people in various bars along the training routes."
Sagan uses a SRM Power meter and heart rate monitor during training and sends the results weekly to Paolo Slongo to review, plus he talks with Slongo by phone during the week to check-in. "Sure, we check out the watts during training and have our predetermined training programs but I decide how to train based on how I feel, not just my program."
The stage five time trial was where Sagan lost his AToC leader's jersey.
Sagan is convinced that his mountain bike and cyclocross experience has been invaluable for his development as a road rider. "I think it is really important for young riders to ride mountain bikes and do cyclocross. My technical skills on the road developed really well because I started out that way. I feel really confident on descents and narrow, twisty technical roads because of the skills I developed on mountain bikes and riding cyclocross. That gives me some advantage and I had a lot of fun doing it. I would tell all young riders to do mountain bikes and to ride cyclocross. Many coaches have told me that these technical skills are best developed at a young age, and it is a lot harder to develop later. My advice is for young riders is to do all kinds of cycling as that is the best way to develop as a rider."
With his natural talent, capacity for hard work and will to succeed, Peter Sagan is on the fast track to the top in pro cycling. So how far can Sagan go?
"Whatever comes, will come! I can't predict anything", exclaimed Sagan. "My preparation has been going well so far but the main goals are still ahead. I hope to do well in the classics but you also need luck along the way. It is not easy to win. I want to do my best of course but I really don't know my limits yet because I am still young. I wanted to do Paris-Roubaix this season but the team thought it was still too early in my career. My main goals are the Tour of France and Olympic Games road race. As far as the World Championships go, it is still too soon to say if I will ride them…"
Young Peter Sagan, ready and willing to take on the future.