Peter Sagan has said "part of the beauty of cycling has been lost" since Covid-19 restrictions have affected races.
The three-time world champion said that the lack of crowds of races has detracted from the "fun" of races, even if some the racing in the Covid-19 era has provided an exciting spectacle for TV audiences. Crowds have slowly returned to races as pandemic restrictions have eased following more than a year of many races being held behind closed doors. Many of the protocols for riders still remain and interaction with fans is more limited.
"The only thing that the virus has done is to make everything difficult, I think that now it is much worse in this sense," Sagan told Marca.
"I do not think that now the races are more fun, on the contrary, part of the beauty of cycling has been lost. It is difficult to travel, to meet, the emotion that people transmit, the fans that follow the races are lacking. Without people, cycling is different and worse."
The Slovakian brought his 2021 season, and his time with Bora-Hansgrohe, to an end at the Giro d'Italia Criterium in Dubai at the weekend, winning the race ahead of Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers).
The 31-year-old said that he has "new motivations" and a "different mentality" heading into his maiden season with Team TotalEnergies, with whom he has signed to ride with for the next two seasons.
Sagan explained that he still has the desire to continue winning and recapture some of the scintillating past form that has escaped him in recent seasons, but did admit he doesn't plan to ride professionally beyond his 30s as other riders have done.
“Careers can be long or short, look at [Alejandro] Valverde," he said.
"I started early, but when to retire is a particular decision. There are other things in life, the nice thing is that one can decide when. Valverde is not a benchmark for me.
“With all due respect to him, it is fine, but I’m not going to race beyond 40 that’s for sure. I admire him a lot, but I don’t see myself like that. I don’t know where I’m going to be in 10 years, now I’m just thinking about riding. I’ll see later.”
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