Cannondale rolled out the red carpet for the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team’s presentation at Paramount Studios with all the glitz and glamour you’d expect at a blockbuster movie screening. The event was classically Hollywood-ified, or Californicated if you’re a Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, and one man definitely stole the show. After the streamers had settled and the effects of a late night of partying had mostly faded, Peter Sagan and the rest of the team led a ride with members of the media and local club riders on the backroads around Westlake Village and Thousand Oaks.
Our group consisted of about 70 cyclists with almost all rider ability levels represented. Before we left the hotel, everyone posed for a photo. Someone shouted a request for Sagan to bust one of his now-patented wheelies. He obliged immediately, bunny-hopping on just his rear wheel. The man is an impresario and has learned how to ham it up for the camera.
The ride started out fairly mellow but Sagan impressed the crowd once again with his antics just a few miles into the route. After stopping for a “nature break,” he sprinted back up to the front of the group through the rutted-out dirt shoulder. He launched off the lip of the asphalt and landed non-chalantly back at the front of the group leaving everyone who saw the stunt shaking their head in amusement. About three quarters of the way up the infamous Rock Store climb, a group of onlookers cheered our group on, which had dwindled to about 20. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, Sagan reared back and pulled another wheelie.
Wheelies obviously work well to impress a crowd. But his daredevil mentality and bike handling skills were on display during the descent off the Rock Store climb. Someone warned him to take it easy because of its technicality. Sagan’s defiant response was to ride down while sitting on the top tube of his bike, railing corners fast enough to string the group out. Those lucky enough to have witnessed that display of skill, lack of trepidation and pure love of being on a bike left with a greater understanding of why this man is destined for stardom. He has a fun-loving nature that is so refreshing to be around. He understands how to be a showman with his creative victory salutes but never comes off as arrogant or egotistical.
After the ride, I asked for a picture and he kindly obliged. I’m not sure if this is his real smile or if he’s just cheesing it up for the camera. Either way, I enjoyed being around the young star and think his career is about to take a huge upswing. Ivan Basso said in a press conference he wouldn’t be surprised to see Sagan win the Tour de France one day. The sky certainly seems to be the limit to his potential as a cyclist and an entertainer.