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Peter Sagan: Anti-doping rules mean riders “live like we’re in prison”

World champion speaks out as he hooks up with new team Bora-Hansgrohe

Back-to-back road world champion Peter Sagan says current anti-doping rules make riders “live like we’re in prison”.

The 26-year-old, who has had a stellar season in which he won a second rainbow jersey, a fifth successive points jersey at the Tour de France and, with the Tour of Flanders, his first Monument, was speaking at the launch of his new Bora-Hansgrohe team.

> Sagan joins Bora-Hansgrohe for 2017 put it to the Slovak rider that many in Germany remain sceptical about cycling because of a succession of doping scandals that saw sponsors and broadcasters sever ties with the sport.

Only now, a decade on, are they beginning to return. Both the title sponsors of Sagan’s new outfit, which he joins from the defunct Tinkoff, are German.

“What happened, happened,” Sagan said. “Now there is a new generation. We live like we’re in prison. We always have to indicate our whereabouts. Doping controls can happen anywhere.

“Cycling now is very clean,” he said. “I was lucky and have already come into a clean cycling. The fact many young riders have the chance to win nowadays shows you cannot do these things anymore.”

> Sagan's 2016 world championship-winning Specialized Venge ViAS

Asked what he, in rainbow jersey, riding for a German team could do to help promote cycling in the country, he said: “It’s not just about Germany. I’m very happy that Germany is back in cycling.

“Behind us is a period in which either national money was in cycling – as with Astana, or Katusha – or in which bike manufacturers sponsored teams.

“Now, Bora-Hansgrohe demonstrates that things are changing. Companies with money are coming into cycling, because they can market their products well.”

He said his first impressions of his new team, whom he was with on a training camp in Spain, was “very good”, and that his colleagues “are all thrilled to be in the WorldTour now. It’s very professional, and everything runs as it should.”

Given his success to date, Sagan was asked what still motivates him. He replied: “It may look like I’ve won everything, but it’s not like that.

“There are still some races I want to win” – Milan-San Remo, where he has come close on several occasions, is an obvious target, as is Paris-Roubaix – “and others I want to win again.

“That’s why I do this sport. I started at nine years of age and kept going. This is the life I’ve chosen.”

Sagan is the undisputed superstar of the peloton now, also demonstrated by the fact that his bike sponsor at Tinkoff, Specialized, has moved with him. He was asked what he did to ease the pressure of being a star.

“There’s not much time to relax,” he said. “The season’s long, there are a lot of races. That’s why I was happy to spend two weeks without a phone when the season ended.

“But that was enough, then I wanted to get back into it. Those rest periods are important. After the classics, and after the Tour, I take a break, then a third at the end of the season.

“It’s not much, but during this time you have to enjoy life.”

While that includes skiing, snowboarding and – more recently – surfing, real relaxation for Sagan comes by being with those closest to him.

“If I just want to relax, I spend time with my wife and my family, my friends. This is important, too, because otherwise there’s no time for it.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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ridein | 7 years ago
1 like

Peter, you get paid quite handsomely to ride fast on a bicycle. That is something rare enough that there are millions of cyclists who would gladly swap their lives for your privileged life.  

FatBoyW | 7 years ago
1 like

Maybe he should have compared being a pro cyclist more to a monastic life?  A life of strict regulation and  discipline in case you think I mean anything else.

Good to see him tapping into his new sponsors too and to see him showered with praise


oh dear I'm leaving now...



riotgibbon | 7 years ago
1 like

the more I hear from Sagan, the more impressed I am.  He's truly a great racer and rider, but he thinks and talks and acts beyond the race as well. I was astounded when in his first words as world champion was concern for the refugees and their desperate situation in his home country, he didn't shave his legs for a long time, and I was delighted to hear on the Cycling Podcast that he is the clear favourite of all the kids who have parents working at the races - he's the one they look forward to seeing

This is what we want from a world champion. I do hope he doesn't let us down ...

Carton | 7 years ago
1 like


Behind us is a period in which either national money was in cycling – as with Astana, or Katusha – or in which bike manufacturers sponsored teams.

Now, Bora-Hansgrohe demonstrates that things are changing. Companies with money are coming into cycling, because they can market their products well.

Good business acumen from Sagan. Not sure the math bears him out, but some well thought-out insight nonetheless.

bendertherobot | 7 years ago
1 like

Yeah, cycling, snowboarding, surfing, family, I'd imagine prison is an awful lot like that. On top of which drugs are, apparently, rife in prison. So, apart from those things, yeah. Though I guess he doesn't really get to choose his meals that often.

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