Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) says the pressure is still the same without the world champion's rainbow jersey this 2019 season.
The rainbow bands was "just a jersey" said the Slovakian who started his season with the Tour Down Under and currently riding the Vuelta a San Juan.
"It is still the same bike races and the same fatigue so I don't think it is much different," Sagan said.
Sagan wore the rainbow jersey for three years, winning in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Now he rides in his Slovak national champion top that looks similar but with different bands.
"It is just the jersey. We have to wear something so it doesn't matter if I wear this one or a different one."
Earlier, Coach and sports director Patxi Vila said that Sagan's "a marked man" even without the rainbow jersey.
"The pressure is still the same," Vila explained. "The jersey is always the reference in the race, but so is Peter. The main rivals know Peter, so it's basically the same without [the rainbow jersey].
"Not that much changes for 2019 without the rainbow jersey because he's already a big stars of cycling."
Sagan ended his 2018 season pulling out of the worlds in Innsbruck, where Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) took over the title. He began the 2019 season with a win in the Tour Down Under. He sprinted to the victory in stage three ahead of Luis León Sánchez (Team Astana).
He now races Argentina's western province, San Juan, at the Vuelta a San Juan. Currently, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) leads the race.
"It's OK, I had a better start in the Tour Down Under but still we are just [beginning] so we will see in the next days what we can do," continued Sagan.
"I think for everyone it's just a preparation race but maybe for the countries from South America it's an important race.
"Also for us, but it's more for training and have some kilometres in good weather and the race rhythm."
Sagan returns to Europe with the Tirreno-Adriatico race that sits him up for the big Classics starting with Milan-San Remo.
"Tirreno-Adriatico and the rest of the Classics," he said. "And from there the real season starts."
The pressure will mount as Sagan nears Milan-San Remo on March 26. He aims to add that Monument to a collection that already includes the 2016 Tour of Flanders and the 2018 Paris-Roubaix.
This year, he is due to race through the classics until April 28, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a race that typically suits riders like Alaphilippe. This year, the arrival changes with a flat finish into Liège's centre.
"Yeah we will see later because it is still far away," Sagan said of racing until Liège. "The goal? All the Classics are goals for me."
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