The Slovakian has not competed in the Vuelta since 2015 when he rode for Tinkoff-Saxo, when he abandoned before the start of stage nine after getting hit by a race motorbike on stage eight.
It’s been widely rumoured that Sagan would return to the Vuelta this year, after choosing to go via the Tour of Poland, BinckBank Tour and Canadian one-day races en route to the World Championships in Bergen last year, where he won the road race for a third time.
The Vuelta’s extremely mountainous parcours, with nine summit finishes, could perhaps provide Sagan the conditioning he needs to compete on the hard climbing route of the World Championships road race in Austria in September. The 265km route has around 5,000m of climbing, but finishes on flat in Innsbruck after one final steep climb that pitches up to 28 per cent gradient.
According to Spanish website El Periódico, Sagan and his Bora-Hansgrohe team had decided before the Tour de France that he would compete in the Vuelta depending on his fitness coming out of the Tour.Sagan crashed on stage 17 of the Tour to Col du Portet and struggled through the remaining stages before finishing in Paris to claim a sixth career green jersey.
However, the news site also says that the team’s initial plans could see Sagan only ride up to the stage nine summit finish in La Covatilla before pulling out. That would allow him to return to specific training for the Worlds road race on September 30.
There are three potential sprint opportunities, and potentially not a huge level of opposition, for Sagan in the opening week of the Vuelta, though he’ll also have to tackle two uphill finishes including a category one finish. The finish to La Covatilla is the race’s first especial ranked finish, if he chooses to ride through stage nine and into the first rest day.
Continuing or even finishing the Vuelta will depend on Sagan’s form, claims El Periódico.
Sagan eluded to his participation in the Vuelta on social media on Tuesday, posting a picture with the caption ‘Hola España’.
The 28-year-old, who has four career stage wins at the Vuelta, will first ride the European Championships road race in Glasgow on Sunday, before potentially racing the EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg in Germany the following week.
Other confirmed big names for the Vuelta so far include Richie Porte (BMC Racing), Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), is scheduled to race, but that will depend on his recovery from a fractured vertebra he suffered in a crash on Alpe d’Huez during the Tour de France.