The bike Peter Sagan gave to Pope Francis will be auctioned off to charity.
The three-time world champion presented the head of the Catholic church with a custom-painted Specialized Venge in January 2018, the bike decorated in the white and yellow colours of the Vatican and featuring the flag and coat of arms of the city-state on the down tube.
The proceeds from the online auction will go to the ‘We Run Together’ charity and be used to help hospitals and doctors in the northern Italian cities of Bergamo and Brescia, a region hit hard by the coronavirus.
Sagan travelled to Vatican City two years ago with his mother, both devout Catholics, and met with Pope Francis during his weekly general audience at St Peter’s Square in a meeting organised by Specialized and Volkswagen Italia.
Sagan also gave the Pope a world champion’s jersey with Francesco emblazoned across the back while speaking briefly with the pontiff.
“Pope Francis asked me to pray for him,” Sagan revealed to Gazzetta dello Sport after the trip. “I replied that I will do it for sure. The Pope prays for each one of us, for the whole world, and that means he needs strength. That strength comes from the fact that others pray for him.
“I like Pope Francis, he’s nice,” Sagan continued. “He conveys difficult ideas with simple words. He is an example, an important man for the world. Even those that don’t believe know the Pope and through him, if they want, they can discover God.”
Sagan is likely to skip both Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders when racing resumes in August, as he is forced to choose between clashes in the condensed calendar.
The Slovakian has said he instead still plans to ride both the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, in what will be his first appearance at the Italian Grand Tour, which would see him ride 42 stages in just 58 days.