MTBPeter Sagan: “Like comparing an F1 and a rally car”
The three-time Slovak world champion will start this Friday at the World Electric Bike Championships in Les Gets (Fri). It seems to amuse him quite a bit.
The three-time world champion faces a very difficult 2022 season with his new team TotalEnergies. So, to get back into cycling, the one who “celebrated” his 3rd Covid in June decided to take part in the E-Bike World Championships. Interview with a star who is almost surprised to be there, but who ends up having a lot of fun.
Peter, what are you doing here?
I’m already looking forward to being here and thank my sponsors for that. It was 100% a good idea to invite me because it makes me happy to get back on a mountain bike. And this time not on a real mountain bike, but on an e-bike. It’s something very specific, like discipline. If someone thinks that it’s easy and the contraption helps a lot, he’s mistaken. It’s an event where you have to push your limits a lot more on the climbs and the descents. It is difficult. Much more than I expected.
What is your goal for Friday’s race?
To be honest, I’m more there for the fans, you know. And also to promote e-bikes and all that stuff. I’m quite serious here, but I also want to have fun. I don’t expect a great result from myself for the race. I’ll try to do my best and we’ll see what happens at the finish.
What’s your feeling on this machine? What is the difference to what you usually know?
Basically, it’s like comparing a Formula 1 and a rally car. It’s so different (laughs)! For example, on a road bike, the effort is 5 or 6 hours to leave and after all there is not much technique during a stage. It’s much more about strength and knowing how far you can go, how long you can sustain your effort, and how you physically recover. There, the effort takes about fifty minutes or an hour and you are fully involved from start to finish. Also the technical aspect, when you’re at about 180 heartbeats per minute and have to pass between rocks on the way down, is a bit complicated.
If you had been told five years ago that you were going to compete in an e-bike world championship, would you have believed it?
To be honest, no, I had never thought of that. And even if you had asked me that in January, I’m not sure I would have believed you. I would have said “no, I’m on my way!” But then I was asked if I wanted to try it and I said, “Why not, let’s do it.” Like a month ago, after the Tour de France, I had a pretty good time. I went to the USA, to Utah, and there I focused on mountain biking and e-bikes. Well there! Now I’m here.
What is the most difficult thing about these e-bikes?
I think so, if you’re already close to the limit going uphill. Your weight is also a factor and I’m a pretty heavy runner… So an athlete who is 125 pounds will fly uphill easier at 50 pounds compared to me who is 80! To be honest, this sport is tough because everything moves faster and you have to be prepared for anything. A normal mountain bike actually requires less engineering because you have to master the 25 or 30 kilos of the e-machine, where a normal bike weighs only 8 limit. Worse, I hit my highest heart rate in 10 years on an e-bike. I was at 190 per minute, which is where I don’t go over 180 in road racing.
And the effect on the body is also different…
Yes, because we use all or almost all of our muscles! We need arms, torso, hips, legs, everything for balance. You use everything you have to manage the e-bike. That doesn’t exist in other disciplines on two wheels.
In the difficult season you are going through, did you need to get back on your bike to have fun?
Oh yes of course. I had to see something else. But it’s also good training for me for the rest of the season in the peloton. Honestly, it’s good: finally something funny in this year 2022.
So what’s your plan for the future?
After Friday’s race I head straight to the Grand Prix de Plouay (note: a semi-classic in Brittany scheduled for Sunday) to find the road there. Then I’ll spend some time up in Utah again. I will take part in the Quebec and Montreal Classics in Canada. From there I will be heading to Australia for the World Championships.
What can we expect from you at the World Championships (he’s already been crowned there three times in his career)?
The? On Friday or on the road (laughs)? I’ll try to do my best there. Anything is possible… I haven’t seen the track yet, but I’ll have enough time to analyze it when I get there.
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