Professional road cycling is a brutal sport. In addition to avoiding crashes and doping scandals, riders have to maintain peak physical condition for most of the year while burning between 5,000-7,000 calories per race or “stage” in one of the grand tours.
You would think that the type of cyclist that could achieve world-champion status would have to be an absolute machine of a person–eschewing all social gatherings and devoid of fun.
Enter Peter Sagan, holder of three consecutive world championships plus numerous other wins and titles who is also, quite possibly, the most fun guy on two wheels.
It’s not uncommon to see Sagan pop a wheelie mid-race. A move he pulled on Mt. Baldy in the Tour of California (A grand tour he won outright in 2015). In the offseason of 2016, Sagan and his wife, Katarína Smolková, recorded an elaborate Grease tribute video complete with lip synching and costume replicas of what Olivia Newton-John and Travolta wore in the 1978 movie.
“I don’t like thinking about the things I do. I just want to have fun,” Sagan once said in a post-race interview. His skills on the bike and personality off it, have made the Slovakian a European superstar. Even his rivals think he is “cool,” “talented,” and “impressive.” With his lion’s mane of laid-back surfer hair, he can’t even go to the supermarket without being mobbed. It’s a pretty big change for a guy who grew up in Slovakia–a tiny country about the size of the state of Tennessee.
So where should a wealthy and charismatic champion cyclist, known for his skills and antics, live with his wife and one-year-old baby Marlon? In Monaco, a place where he can blend in with other prominent people and get some peace.
Three years ago, Sagan spent $7 million on a luxury four-bedroom apartment overlooking the Mediterranean. Surrounded by mature palms that give it a beach-y vibe, the complex has 24-hour doormen, housekeepers, and gardeners in constant rotation, but the best feature is the Helitransport. If Sagan wants to be on a flight to anywhere in the world, he can order a helicopter to pick him up on the roof of his building and fly him in 10 minutes to a waiting plane at the Nice airport.
It’s probably comforting to Sagan and his wife that little Marlon will be safe here. Monaco has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe and more police per square mile than anywhere else in the world.
The Monaco climate and topography are also conducive to an outdoor athlete. “It’s a good life in Monaco, I can cycle and ski pretty much in one day,” Sagan says. Ironically, the only thing he’s not allowed to do is ride his bike in the building. That’s a small concession to make to live in a place populated by race car drivers, tycoons, and royalty. Princess Stephanie is one of Sagan’s neighbors. Her apartment with its private pool is nearby.
As long as Peter Sagan spends six months out of the year living in Monaco, he can enjoy his residence and all its amenities tax-free.
However, staying there for any length of time has been a challenge. In addition to Sagan’s grueling global cycling schedule, which has him jetting all over the world, he keeps a family home in Slovakia for holidays. Sagan also likes coming to America. He does altitude training at Lake Tahoe and purchased a grey 1,000-horsepower Dodge Charger that European emission laws won’t let him take out of the United States.
Sagan is a man on the move–whether he’s emerging at the front of the peloton to win a bunch sprint, making a film for sponsors stateside, or training on the edge of a high mountain for the start of the Tour de France in three weeks, he won’t be anywhere for long.
When racing is over for the season, it must be nice for Sagan to return to Monaco’s sunny spotless streets, pull into his guarded underground garage (where cameras can’t catch him) and take an elevator up to his apartment to join his wife and son on the balcony looking out onto the azure water. It’s the type of royal entrance befitting the current king of cycling.