The world champion met with motorbike driver Jesus Esteban on Monday in Salamanca and exchanged gifts as they buried the hatchet over the incident that forced Sagan to abandon the race.
The crash took place on stage eight of the 2015 Vuelta, with the motorbike colliding with Sagan as it tried to pass the peloton, sending him to the ground. Despite the injuries the Slovakian sustained to his left side, he finished the stage but abandoned before the start of stage nine.
At the times Sagan said “I didn’t even hear the motorbike coming. I find it unacceptable that a motorbike tries to weave its way into the group at such high speed.”
Now with Bora-Hansgrohe, Sagan’s team at the time, Tinkoff-Saxo, released a strongly worded open letter that threatened legal action against the race, which never came about. The team also saw another rider taken out by a motorbike in that race, with Sergio Paulinho hitting the ground and abandoning on stage 11.
After his collision, Sagan was fined by commissaires for his angry outburst where he punched the medical car. Esteban was excluded from the race and the organisers issued an apology to Sagan and his team.
Despite his injuries, Sagan was able to recover in time to take the first of his three consecutive world titles in Richmond in September.
Now, three years down the line, Sagan met with motorbike driver Esteban and gave him a signed world champion’s jersey while Esteban gave him the cracked windscreen from the motorbike that hit him that day.
“Thanks to that withdrawal [from the race] I became world champion, so I have to thank you,” Sagan said on their meeting according to the EFE news agency.
“I remember that accident caused me to abandon, but it wasn’t so serious because I had won a stage and I was going to leave anyway. From that day on, my road towards three World Championships began.”