World champion Peter Sagan will miss the road race at this summer’s Olympic Games – but he will be on the plane to Rio, with Slovakia’s Olympic Committee confirming he has been awarded its sole place in the cross country mountain biking event.
A former junior world champion in the discipline, the 26-year-old decided against going for road gold in Brazil after he undertook a reconnaissance of the course, which is best suited to climbers, earlier this year.
Following his Tour of Flanders win in April, Sagan did take part in a couple of mountain bike events – the first, in Austria, went badly as he crashed and abandoned, but in the second, in the Czech Republic, his fourth place gave him enough ranking points to qualify for Rio.
In a statement, the Slovak Olympic Committee said that Sagan had given up his place in the road team so as to be able to ride in the mountain bike event in Rio, and that he is aiming for a high finishing position.
It added that he will undergo a four-week training block after next month’s Tour de France, where he is looking for a record fifth consecutive points jersey, to ensure he is in the best possible condition for the Olympics.
Since the Tour of California last month, Sagan has been training in Utah, although he is now back in Europe ahead of the Tour de Suisse which starts this weekend.
Unless he crosses the line first with a big lead, we’re unlikely to see him pop a wheelie like this in Rio – and some purists may question whether he should be sporting the rainbow jersey on anything other than a road bike.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.