Europe’s migrant crisis motivated Peter Sagan for the World Championships yesterday in Richmond, USA. After throwing his helmet to the crowd and high-fiving his rivals to celebrate his win, the Slovak turned serious.
Sagan won with an attack on the second cobbled hill from 2.7 kilometres out. He held off a chase from Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka)
“I want also to say I am very happy for this,” he said before stepping on the podium to take the rainbow jersey.
“I was finding motivation in the world. I think it is big problem with Europe and all this stuff that is happening. I want to just say this was very big motivation for me.
“The problems in the world we have to change. I think that in the next years it can all be different. I think this competition and all the sport is very nice for the people. And we are motivation for the people.
“The situation is very difficult. I want to say to all the people: change this world.”
Sagan without saying specifically referred to the influx of Syrian and other migrants into Europe.
War in Syria over the last four years sent locals searching for new lives in Europe. The United Nations reported last week that now 8000 arrive daily. Around 500,000 migrants from Syrian and other war-torn zones came so far this year.
The increased numbers have caused tension at Europe’s borders and in border states. In an emergency meeting last week while cyclists raced in Richmond, the EU voted in favour to relocate 120,000 refugees across Europe.
Slovakia, Sagan’s home state, was one of four countries which voted against the plan. Slovakia plans to take legal action against the decision.
The situation which Sagan highlighted briefly after his win continues to worsen. The UN estimated 2500 refugees and migrants have died or gone missing so far this year.