Peter Sagan is as laid back as ever ahead of what could be a career-defining weekend in Yorkshire, and that’s saying something for the Slovakian who already has a palmarès many could only dream of.
Should he cross the finish line first in Harrogate on Sunday, he will break the record for most wins in the men’s World Championship road race, a fourth victory moving him ahead of Eddy Merckx (Belgium), Óscar Freire (Spain) and Rik Van Steenbergen (Belgium) who are all tied with Sagan on three.
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However, ever the eccentric is Sagan, the 29-year-old gives the impression that it would not be the end of the world should he fail to reclaim the rainbow bands.
Asked by Belgian broadcaster Sporza how he is feeling ahead of his potentially record-breaking win, Sagan replies: “And what is going to change if that happens? Nothing, and I’m okay.”
Sagan then becomes less philosophical, saying it is of course a goal, but with a number of years left at the top level it makes sense for the Slovakian to not lose sleep over the 285km Yorkshire course.
“Yeah [I am motivated to win], that’s why I race more world championships, but it’s not easy to win, it’s just better to keep your feet on the ground.
“Definitely I am not dreaming during the night about the world championships, but we can call it a goal.”
Sagan will come up against a strong field, with a number of other favourites having stellar 2019s and the World Championships a final goal before the off season. Julian Alaphilippe is the great hope for France, having lit up home roads at this year’s Tour, where he won three stages and wore yellow for 14 days.
Equally, Mathieu van der Poel gives the Dutch reasons to dream of a first win since Joop Zoetemelk in 1985, the 24-year-old having won this year’s Amstel Gold Race to announce himself as one of the new stars of one-day racing.
However, the Belgian’s bring one of the strongest squads to Yorkshire, and Sagan reckons the double threat of Greg Van Avermaet and Philippe Gilbert will provide strong competition. Alongside the two veterans, Remco Evenepoel will make his first appearance, with Sagan saying the 19-year-old has as good a chance as anyone to emerge victorious.
“He’s young, he’s strong, anything can happen in life. Everything is possible. I did some races with him, he impressed me. But every time it gets harder and harder to win because he is not going to be new,” Sagan said.