Road race world champion Peter Sagan will make his only appearance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the cross country mountain bike event.
When the course of the road race was confirmed many people, Sagan among them, thought the race would be won by an out-and-out climber. As it was, a Classics specialist and rider similar to the Slovak in style and ability, won the gold medal.
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“I’m surprised in the victory of Greg Van Avermaet,” said Sagan. “The road race in the Olympics is a strange race. There is not a strong field, it depends on the legs, it depends on the luck. He was also a bit lucky due to the crash involving the others, but the Olympic gold medal is for all of life.”
Sagan has won the Tour de France‘s green jersey five years in a row and was victorious in this year’s Tour of Flanders. With such talent, the Slovak can be competitive over a range of different terrains.
After the Van Avermaet’s win, questions were asked about whether it was the right decision for Sagan to skip the road race, and those questions have persisted.
“The decision to race in mountain bike was made in January. It’s all in the past. I am here to focus on mountain bike,” the 26-year-old said ahead of the race on Sunday August 21.
Sagan has been an all round talent since he first started riding, and was junior mountain bike world champion back in 2008. In the same year, he came second in the junior cyclocross world championships and also took second in the Paris-Roubaix junior race.
“I don’t hope for anything,” he said about the upcoming MTB race. “I have not raced mountain bike in seven years. A lot of things have changed. I’m here for more personal (reasons). I want to try. I will give the maximum for sure.”
Rio 2016 will be Sagan’s second appearance in the Olympic Games after he finished 34th in the road race at London 2012.
He’s developed as a rider since then, although he already had one Tour de France points classification to his name before that race through the Surrey Hills.
“I raced the road race in London and I already wanted to race mountain bike there but it was not possible,” he said.
“For sure, it’s a big dream for me. I have already won some big things on the road, already the road race world championship. What can I do now? Olympic Games. We will see. Maybe I have another Olympic road race in my future.”
Looking ahead to the race, rather than back on his last appearance at the Games, he added: “I will do my best Sunday. No one knows what the hell to expect. Maybe it’s more funny.”