Peter Sagan says he needs to “get back the race rhythm” as he returned to racing after a forced break due to coronavirus.
The Bora-Hansgrohe rider went into quarantine in early February after he tested positive for Covid-19 during a training camp in Gran Canaria.
Sagan was forced to miss the opening Classics weekend and Strade Bianche, but returned to racing at Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday (March 10) for the stage one bunch sprint.
Speaking after the stage, the 31-year-old said: “First stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico and, as expected, it came down to a fast bunch sprint. For me, it was also the first race of the 2021 season, so it was important to get back to race rhythm after a long break. The team, once again, did a very good job and I was kept safe in the long, final straight line to the finish. The last kilometre was quite hectic and, unfortunately, I wasn’t in an ideal position to contest the sprint.”
Sagan was able to hold position near the front of the bunch in the frenetic dash for the line, which went to Wout van Aert (Jumbo -Visma) in a shock finish, but the Slovakian wasn’t able to contest for the victory in the sprint, finishing in 11th place.
The former three-time world champion hadn’t raced since the 2020 Giro d’Italia in October, so Sagan is hoping to get back race form ahead of his bigger goals in the coming weeks.
After Tirreno, Sagan will remain in Italy for Milan-San Remo on March 20 and will then return to Belgium for the cobbles Classics, then the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
On Sagan’s first race of the year, Bora-Hansgrohe sports director Jan Valach said: “We approached today’s stage in a calmer way. Our main goal was to protect our GC riders and make sure they avoided any major issues because we knew the stage would be decided in a fast sprint. In addition, it was the first race of Peter this year after some time, so we decided not to take any risks and take it as it would come.
“The guys feel well, all of them finished within the bunch, they have good legs, so, overall, we think we can be satisfied with today’s performance.”