SANTA ROSA, Calif. (VN) — One green jersey does not a season make for Peter Sagan, and even as he sat here in California, the winner of the points classification, his eyes are on defending his green jersey at the Tour de France.
The Cannondale rider took two stages at the Amgen Tour of California this year, including Sunday’s finale here, en route to collecting the points win, and is living up to the expectations placed upon his broad shoulders in California.
Two wins in eight days of racing is a percentage most riders would take gladly, but Sagan (has made a habit of winning here in the Golden State, taking five stages last year. All told, he’s won 10 stages at the Amgen Tour, and the points jersey in all four of his starts. He dedicated his latest win to 11-year-old Alex Shepherd, a little boy from Oregon with a brain tumor.
“I’m very happy to have won today,” Sagan said, sitting in the press conference in his green jersey. He also won heading into Santa Rosa last year, battling back from late mechanicals and threading team cars.
“I knew where I was going in the finish — it was a little bit easier to take the position when I know it. It was good,” he said. “I’m here for the fourth year, and fourth year I take the green jersey. I won two stages here.
“Maybe now I’m more relaxed, because my condition is coming before the Tour de France. I did this race also last year, and I felt very good last year at the Tour de France. I think it’s good preparation — it’s a good race.”
Of course, things will get harder for him abroad, with narrower roads and a deeper pool of sprinters. And while Sagan isn’t the outright fastest sprinter in the world — that honor goes to Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish —Sagan brings a wider selection of skills to the sprint game than Cavendish, meaning he can collect more points along the routes, including hilly days, as opposed to banking on the final sprint.
“I don’t sprint like other sprinters, like Cavendish [or Lotto-Beliosol's Andre] Greipel. I can have much possibility for intermediate sprints, no?” he said when asked about the points classification at the Tour.
“It’s a crazy race, because we have points in the finishing, but maybe too much stress in the group, and it’s too many crashes. When one rider is unlucky in the sprints, then maybe I can take the points in the sprints, or maybe I can take the intermediate sprint in the stage,” Sagan said.