In Defense of Arrogance
[media-credit name="Photo courtesy of Cannondale" align="alignleft" width="300"][/media-credit]The universal gesture for triumph—straight arms thrust overhead with clenched fists punching the air—wasn't enough for cyclist Peter Sagan. When the 22-year-old Slovak on Team Liquigas-Cannondale claimed his third stage win at his first ever Tour de France earlier this month, he coolly swished his arms like a “running man” across the finish.
His out-of-the-ordinary victory celebration was quickly labeled arrogant by some—and with reason. When asked immediately afterward about his chances to be world champion, he responded with “I want to win everything.” It's a hot-shot attitude reminiscent of a young Madonna who once told Dick Clark that she wanted to “rule the word.” Like Madonna, Sagan has the right amount of chutzpah, charisma, and command of his craft to do just that, in his own right.
“[After winning five out of eight stages at the Tour of California in May], I knew that I was ready for the Tour de France and I wanted to win a stage or two, for sure,” says Sagan, who became the youngest rider to win a stage at the Tour (one of the world's most grueling endurance races) since a certain Mr. Lance Armstrong in 1993. Winning three stages came as a welcome surprise as did earning the coveted green jersey, which meant Sagan had the most sprinter points in the Tour. (Ride longer, ride faster, and get Tour De France fit with these musclemorphosis.com.)
How did he do it? “I just focused on each stage as it came,” Sagan says. “I knew the mountain stages would be tough, [but what I think sets me apart from the rest is that] I have the resistance in the climbs to get over the tougher hills that the pure sprinters don't.” Having the support of his teammates and staff also set him up for success. “They have always believed in me and I felt it. In cycling, only one rider takes the win but without your team, you can’t arrive at the top.”
Don't call Sagan cocky—he thinks of himself as a quiet guy until you get to know him—but humble isn't exactly a good descriptor, either. “When I'm racing, I always think or feel that I can win,” says Sagan, who will go for the gold medal in road cycling at the London Olympics. After that, the national road race champion is gunning for another title, World Champ, in the Netherlands this September. He's really trying to “win them all.”
Whether you ride or not, you can apply Sagan's sage advice to any aspect of your life that needs a confidence boost. (And for more success strategies from world-class athletes, check out musclemorphosis.com.)
Learn from the Best
The challenge of going head-to-head against other renowned sprinters, like Great Britain's Mark Cavendish (often called the fastest man in the world), and trying to edge them out each time is what drives Sagan. “I won’t back down from him based on his reputation," he says. "In fact, I look forward to sprinting against him."
Master Your Weaknesses
And make them your strengths. “Focus on improving what doesn’t come naturally through hard work,” he says. And don't be afraid to have fun with it while training!
Commit for the Long Haul
Winning isn't everything for Sagan. “I know if I don’t win a sprint or stage, I will have so many more occasions,” he says. It's more important to stick to it, learn, improve, and set yourself up for long-term success. “At the Tour, I felt good and had no real problems, and that's what's most important to reach those results.”
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