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Peter Sagan’s first competitive appearance in the rainbow jersey is one that he and his team fully intend to be successful, with the Slovakian keen to clock up his first victory as world champion.
He has travelled to the Abu Dhabi Tour and will show off the colours there. “I am intrigued by this new race in Abu Dhabi; it is always nice for the sport of cycling to visit new places and reach new fans,” he said in advance of the start on Thursday.
“It will be my first race wearing the World Champion jersey and I will do my best to honour it.”
Sagan won gold in Richmond with a superbly-timed attack in the finale of the world championships. The success more than made up for close calls this season and is, he hopes, the catalyst to translate a lot more podium places into wins.
“Our ambition is to win a stage with Peter Sagan,” said Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Tristan Hoffman, laying out high goals.
“This race concludes the 2015 season and we enter it with hopes of making our mark on the action. It will not only be nice to win here but it will also be a special occasion, as it’s the first time that Peter will ride in his rainbow jersey.”
He accepts that nothing is certain. “Whether we can win, that’s another question – the competition is hard and many riders want to finish the season with a win,” he said.
“However, Peter has a first class lead-out man in Bennati and the team is motivated.”
The race has been added to the calendar this year and will feature a number of top riders and strong teams. They will also be hoping to conclude the season on a high and so aggressive racing is certain.
Sagan will be watched, not least because of his new jersey, but he is also in superb form.
Hoffman assessed the route and explained key considerations.
“Stage one, two and four are mainly flat, while stage three finishes on top of a hard climb. On the flat stages, we have to be aware of any crosswind, as there are a lot of kilometres in the dessert with open terrain.
“If there’s wind, the flat stages can become very hard. We have to be at the front of the action but we’ll see how our exact approach will be depending on how the stages evolve.”