RICHMOND, Virginia (Reuters) - After shedding the cloak of cycling's nearly man and slipping into the rainbow jersey as road cycling's new world champion on Sunday, Peter Sagan declared himself an athlete who lives in the moment.
But from the second the 25-year-old Slovakian showman jumped off his bike, playfully flung it down the road and punched his fists into the air in triumph as he celebrated a long-awaited victory, he was looking towards the future.
Sagan's first thoughts were not about his own struggles on the bike but the problems facing the world and an immigration crisis that has enveloped Europe.
"We live in the moment now, but in the future I don't know," said Sagan. "I want to tell the people thinking about how to change the world, one man maybe nothing but if we have more we can change.
"It is about the future. This is very nice, I am very happy for this but I want also for another generation that can ride to be here.
"I was motivated from the problem in Europe. I told Kate my girlfriend if I win the rainbow jersey I want to tell this so people are thinking about the future and that we have to change something."
One man alone may not be able to change the world but Sagan proved one man going alone can win a world championship after he had boldly embarked on a solo attack with three kilometres remaining in the 261km marathon.
Timing his move to perfection, the Slovakian had just enough left in his tank to fend off a hard-charging peloton and claim a three-second victory over Australian Michael Matthews.
"From the last climb, it was still a long way until the finish," said Sagan. "The climb was very hard, the climb was very short but the last 800 metres was very tough.
"If you go alone from that moment until the finish, it was far away and when you see the group behind you know everybody will go full gas to hunt you.
"But I said I have to go because if I go back and wait for the sprint, I can do second, third, four, fifth but when I decided to go alone it was the best moment."
One of most popular and charismatic riders in the peloton, Sagan's skills and personality are both diverse and complete.
A rider with decent sprinting qualities added to a capacity to master short and brutal ascents, the Richmond course with its sharp punchy climbs, including two up cobblestones, was tailor made for him.
Sagan also possesses a playful and engaging personality but he has demonstrated that he cares much more than simply getting to the top of podium.
His results, however, have not always matched his winning personality.
Sagan has managed eight top-10s in the Monument Classics, but had never won despite being the pre-race favourite several times.
He has won four successive Tour de France green jerseys and as many stage wins, yet this year he finished second on five occasions.
While the Slovakian showed his serious side on Sunday, he was not going to let the biggest win of his career go by without a proper party.
"I live for the moment," declared Sagan when asked about his next goal. "I have no time for this.
"I don't want to think about next year. I want to go out from this here and celebrate."
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)