Sagan not eyeing another GC win at Amgen Tour of California

by Neal Rogers


World champion Peter Sagan said that although this year’s Amgen Tour of California route is similar to the route from 2015, when he won the overall, he’s not thinking about a repeat performance.

Like this year’s race, the 2015 edition began in Sacramento, ended in Pasadena, and included the summit finish on Mt. Baldy. The time trial stage in 2015, planned for Big Bear Lake, had to be rerouted to Santa Clarita due to snow — specifically, it was rerouted to the parking lot of The Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park.

Sagan won the hilly and technical 10km time trial and took the race lead, and though he would lose the jersey to Julian Alaphilippe the following day on Mt. Baldy, he stayed close enough to take it back through time bonuses on the final sprint in Pasadena, becoming the first and only field sprinter to win California.

This year’s race again includes a Big Bear Lake time trial, a 24km mostly flat course at 6,752 feet (2,058m) above sea level. And while the TT route change in 2015 no doubt enabled Sagan to take overall victory, the similarities in overall route were enough to ask Sagan if he might be considering another go at the general classification.

Though he had answered a previous question by saying, “Everything is possible, we’ll have to see day by day,” when pressed specifically to address whether he would again consider a run at the overall, Sagan said that his 2015 result was not likely to be repeated.

“No, no, it was lucky,” Sagan said. “I don’t know, It was some special condition that year. I don’t know how. It was a special race also for me. I think a lot of times this race starts in Sacramento, and just once I won and not all the other times, so it’s nothing to do with that.”

Instead, Sagan pointed to Bora-Hansgrohe teammate Rafal Majka, who is targeting the GC, and Jay McCarthy, who will likely go for stage wins.

Majka was coy on this objectives, saying, “It’s not easy to say i’m here to win. After Liège-Bastogne-Liège I had rest, and I came here with good ambition. There are a lot of guys who want to win this race, and there is only one uphill finish, after the time trial, so I would need to catch a lot of time [on Mt. Baldy] to win this race. There are some guys who are good in the climbs who are also good in time trials, so it should be difficult to win this race. We’ll try our best.”

As for Sagan, he’ll be looking to add to his tally of 15 stage wins in California, a race he’s done every year he’s been professional. When it comes to field sprints, however, he’ll have to be faster than Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), and Elia Viviani (Team Sky).

“I will try to do well on some stages, but if I don’t get injured, it’s already okay,” he said.

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