Peter Sagan: The maverick of the road

Peter Sagan of Slovakia celebrates victory at the UCI Road World Championships on October 16, 2016 in Doha, Qatar.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Peter Sagan of Slovakia celebrates victory at the UCI Road World Championships on October 16, 2016 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Slovakia's three-time road race world champion continues to put the fun into cycling. But can he claim an elusive Olympic medal at Tokyo 2020?

Peter Sagan is one of the most popular rider in road cycling.

The charismatic Slovak has three world titles and seven Tour de France green jerseys to his name, but remains without an Olympic medal.

Having finished down the field in the road race at London 2012, Sagan decided there were too many climbs in the course at Rio 2016 and opted to race in the mountain bike cross country event instead.

A puncture ended his hopes in Rio.

He turns 31 next January ahead of the delayed Tokyo 2020 Games which will be his third Olympics. This time the riders have to negotiate the lower slopes of Mount Fuji, Japan's highest mountain.

Not ideal for Sagan as he is hoping to claim the one prize missing from his collection.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 19: Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Bora-Hansgrohe celebrates after winning stage four of the 2018 Tour Down Under on January 19, 2018 in Adelaide, Australia.  (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 19: Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Bora-Hansgrohe celebrates after winning stage four of the 2018 Tour Down Under on January 19, 2018 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)
2018 Getty Images

The Olympics

London 2012 was something of a disappointment with Sagan finishing outside the top 30, but he soon set about establishing himself as the man to beat in one-day and Classic events.

Sagan: 'The third one is unbelievable'
01:28

I have never seen a rider like him. I don't think anyone has. He is the first-of-a-kind rider. He can win what he wants. Anything.

Two-time Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso

After Liquigas-Doimo was renamed Cannondale, Sagan moved to Tinkoff-Saxo for 2015 after his third Tour de France green jersey.

He spent two years with the Russia team before joining Bora-Hansgrohe where he remains to this day.

Those moves have done nothing to disrupt his almost complete dominance of the Tour de France points classification, winning five in a row before being controversially disqualified in 2017.

Normal service has since been resumed with Sagan victorious in 2018 and 2019 to take his tally to a record seven, one more than Erik Zabel who won six straight points jerseys from 1996 to 2001.

He also became the first man to claim three consecutive road race world crowns, the last of those at Bergen, Norway in 2017.

Peter Sagan once borrowed his sister's supermarket bike to win a race
00:56

The entertainer

While Sagan's achievements are extraordinary, he has always been keen to enjoy himself and make cycling fun for the spectators.

That Forrest Gump celebration at the Tour de France was decided by his team-mates with Sagan saying, "The other evening my teammates and I decided that if I won again, I’d do it like Forrest Gump: when they told him to run, he ran; when they tell me to win, I win. I like doing something that makes people smile."

Unlike many of his peers, he does not take his sport too seriously and embraces a philosophical outlook.

When claiming his first yellow jersey at the 2016 Tour de France, he said, "If I'd finished second today I wouldn't be here now. Life is life. Life brings me things and I just take them.

This year's Tour de France, and Sagan's bid for an eighth green jersey, is in serious doubt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tokyo 2020 has already been postponed by 12 months with Sagan deciding late last year to focus on the road race instead of mountain biking at the Olympic Games.

Gold in Rio for Greg van Avermaet, a regular rival in Classics, suggests that perhaps he would have been better off sticking to his usual discipline.

And while the course for Tokyo looks every bit as demanding, Sagan is determined to give it his best shot.

Sagan: 'I've never been to a concert'
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What can I change? I believe everybody has a destiny that is up in space or somewhere. If I'm here, I'm here.

By the OIympic channel.