Will Sagan ever race the Giro d’Italia?
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JERUSALEM (VN) — Peter Sagan, cycling’s rock star and world champion, is notably missing from one of the biggest races, the Giro d’Italia. The 2018 edition kicks off Friday, but for the ninth year running since he became professional, Sagan chooses the Amgen Tour of California over Italy.
The decision at first seems odd. The 28-year-old Slovakian grew up racing mountain bikes in Italy and lived in San Donà di Piave, near Venice, in his first years with team Liquigas-Cannondale. Even now, he prefers Italian over English when having to speak something besides his mother tongue.
“He has a big connection to Italy,” his coach and team Bora-Hansgrohe sport director Patxi Vila told VeloNews. “He grew up in Italy, an Italian team and he’s close with many Italians.
“For the moment, the Tour de France in July is the biggest race and his objective. He makes the decision and the team decides with him to go there, but I’m pretty sure that before he stops his pro career he will try the Giro d’Italia. I don’t know when, but I know he will.”
Sagan just wrapped up a successful and demanding spring campaign. He won Gent-Wevelgem, and just when some critics began to doubt if such a hyped star would ever win a second monument to add to his 2016 Tour of Flanders, he rode away to a Paris-Roubaix victory. He closed the run just over two weeks ago with fourth place in the Amstel Gold Race.
When asked if Sagan might have attempted the 2018 Giro, Vila laughed at the difficult workload that would present: “If you told me now that he had to go to the Giro d’Italia, I’d cry!”
The week-long Tour of California that takes place while the Giro d’Italia’s second week is unfolding fits perfectly instead. Sagan arrives in America early, trains far away from Europe without any distractions and builds an already far-reaching social-media status.
He already won 16 stages in California. The event, along with the Tour de Suisse in June, gives him the race training he needs heading toward the Tour de France.
“Why California over the Giro? I think it goes back to the Team Cannondale days, and their sponsorship. He likes the U.S. now. An in Europe, it’s almost mission impossible for him to train without distractions. It works OK for him to train and race there, so why not?” Vila continued.
“He needs to recover from the classics. So we had one- or one-and-half-hour coffee rides or just five days off without touching the bike — either way it’s fine. Physically, it’s the same. What I underline is that we are coming up to a hard period of altitude training, California, Suisse, and the Tour, more than two and half months focused, so he needs to recover mentally. I need those riders, like Bodnar too, to be fresh.
“He only has one month after the classics. One week off after Amstel and five days before you need to go to California, so you only have about two weeks for the proper preparation block.”
Whatever the plan, the Giro d’Italia continues another year without this generation’s shining star. But based on Vila’s gut feeling, the organizer will one day give Sagan a ‘benvenuto’ to its grand tour.