Road race world champion Peter Sagan returns to his off-road roots, contesting the cross-country mountain bike event in Rio 2016

Peter Sagan says that he is ‘ready for the challenge’ of tackling the cross-country mountain bike event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, representing his home nation of Slovakia.

The road race world champion caused widespread surprise when he announced that he would not be taking part in the Olympic road race, but would instead contest the off-road discipline.

Sagan, however, has decided that the hilly road route is not for him, and has elected to return to his roots, and go off-road as his best chance of an Olympic medal. The 2008 junior cross-country world champion took part in a couple of mountain bike events in the spring in order to qualify for the Olympic event.

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“I’m proud to be able to race the most important mountain bike race in the calendar at the biggest sports event in the world,” said Sagan.

Peter Sagan wins stage 11 of the 2016 Tour de France

Peter Sagan wins stage 11 of the 2016 Tour de France

“It’s nice for me to return to my roots, representing my Slovakia. It is always an honour for every athlete to represent their home country in the Olympics.”

Having enjoyed one of his most successful seasons on the road, which included three Tour de France stage wins and the green jersey, and victories in the Tour of Flanders and Ghent-Wevelgem, Sagan says he is in good form for Rio.

“It will not be easy but I’m ready for the challenge,”said Sagan, who will face seasoned cross-country riders such as Julien Absalon (France), Nino Schurter (Switzerland) and 2012 Olympic champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic).

On Monday it was confirmed that Sagan will join the German Bora-Hansgrohe team for the 2017 season as his current Tinkoff team will disband at the end of 2016.