Peter Sagan to return to Amgen Tour of California as defending champion

Peter Sagan is not confident of retaining his Tour of California title, but will instead be focussing on adding stage wins to his impressive tally

Peter Sagan on the podium at the Tour of California (Photo: Graham Watson)
(Image credit: Watson)

Peter Sagan will return to the Amgen Tour of California for the seventh consecutive season with designs on increasing his tally of 13 stage wins.

The odds on the world champion achieving his goal are favourable, with the Slovakian winning at least one stage in each of the last six seasons, including two in 2015.

His win in the overall classification last season was one of the results of the year - the Tinkoff rider pipping Etixx-Quick Step prodigy Julian Alaphilippe to the final yellow jersey by three seconds courtesy of bonus seconds on the last stage.

>>> How did Peter Sagan win the Tour of California?

This year, Sagan is not so confident of his chances in the classification on a tough route, but hopes for individual stage success.

“The Amgen Tour of California means a lot to me, it's a race I’ve liked competing at over the past years and it has now become a tradition in my program," Sagan said.

"Previously, in California, I've been very successful and I believe that, after a little rest, I will be back again at a good performance level. I would be happy if I am again competing for some strong results here.

"This year will be a very difficult edition, and not quite suited to my style but stage by stage we will see what we can do.”

"Peter Sagan is super strong in 2016"

The tough climb to Santa Barbara on stage three, with Gibraltar Road averaging eight per cent over 12km, means that Sagan does not expect to be in contention for the overall race lead.

Stages one and two are said to suit Sagan's skillset, according to Tinkoff coach Paxti Vila, as will stage seven to Santa Rosa.

Sagan already holds the record for stage wins in the Tour of California - four ahead of Mark Cavendish, who considerably bolstered his tally with four victories in 2015.

The Manxman will also return to the race with his Dimension Data team, having been on a training camp with the British Cycling Olympics squad in California in recent weeks.

The Amgen Tour of California starts in San Diego on May 15, culminating in Sacremento on May 22.

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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.