White and gold Specialized bike presented to Pope Francis

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Peter Sagan took a break from training on Wednesday as he travelled to the Vatican to meet the Pope, presenting him with a custom-painted Specialized bike and a signed world champion’s jersey.

Travelling to the Vatican City with his mother, Sagan, a practising Catholic, met Pope Francis at his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square in a meeting arranged by bike sponsor Specialized and Volkswagon Italia.

Sagan spoke briefly with the pontiff, first presenting him with a special world champion’s jersey with Francesco emblazoned across the back, and then showed his the custom Specialized Venge, specially painted in the white and gold of the Vatican flag and with the coat of arms of the Vatican City painted on the down tube.

>>> ‘I finally had a real job to do’: Peter Sagan helps to pack away flamme rouge at Tour Down Under

The only slight disappointment might be that the bike was an old model of the Specialized Venge with a mechanical SRAM groupset, with Pope Francis perhaps having got his hopes up that he’d be able to ride out of St Peter’s Square on the latest Venge ViAS model with a Campagagnolo Super Record groupset (we imagine that the Pope would be a Campag man) .

Sagan had also said that he hoped to ask the Pope to baptise his son Marlon, although it’s not clear if the three-time world champion managed to make this request.

Sagan was taking a day off from training after travelling back from Australia where he took his first victory of the 2018 season on stage four of the Tour Down Under.

He’ll now be hoping that his audience with the Pope will grant him divine intervention going into the cobbled Classics, where he had a difficult time in 2017, being derailed by a crash in the Tour of Flanders and taking his only win of the Belgian spring at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.