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Sagan’s Giro d’Italia a ‘great opportunity’

Sagan to race the Giro for the first time in his career next season, with the added significance of the opening stages near his place of birth.

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Three-time world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) sees a “great opportunity” in racing the Giro d’Italia for the first time in 2020.

The Slovakian star will take the start line on May 9 in Budapest, Hungary, just 260km from his home town over the border. Amazingly, after eight rides and seven green jersey wins in the Tour de France, he has never taken part in the Italian grand tour.

“The Giro is a great opportunity,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport at the team’s presentation in Kolbermoor, Germany, Tuesday.

“It is my first time and I really care about doing it well. You know very well how much Italy is in my heart: I am also a little Italian.”

Sagan spent his first years in Italy racing mountain bikes, on the road as an amateur, and then lived there while racing for team Liquigas-Cannondale. Everything changed quickly for him, winning monuments and world championships, and moving to Monaco. The pull of those big classics and the Tour were too much for Sagan to spend energy in May racing the Giro.

“I expect a tough race next year, but also many fans and so many people on the streets having fun. I am happy to race the Giro,” he continued.

“Then the departure from Hungary that is close to Slovakia makes it really special. Winning would be a big win.”

Sagan grew up a few hours’ drive to the north of Budapest in Žilina, Slovakia. This May 9, the Giro d’Italia starts with a time trial, but Sagan could have chances to win in stages two and three before the race transfers to Italy.

Missing from the team presentation yesterday was sprinter Sam Bennett. Deceuninck-Quick Step confirmed the Irishman’s contact for 2020 last night. It leaves Sagan and German Pascal Ackermann to divide the grand tours.

Ackermann faces the same issue as Bennett. Even though he proved his worth in the 2019 Giro winning two stages and the points jersey, the Sagan star is too bright for Bora-Hansgrohe to take sprinters who would pull attention away from its main attraction.

The team confirmed Ackermann will return to the Giro, racing alongside Sagan who could pull out mid-race, and will then ride the Vuelta a España later in the summer.

Sagan’s schedule will see him debut in Argentina’s Vuelta a San Juan instead of the Tour Down Under. He will then travel to Colombia for an altitude camp before returning to Europe for the classics starting with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 29.

He will race in Italy at Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, and Milano-Sanremo – which could be compromised due to road works expected on the Poggio climb. In the north, Sagan will race the Dwars door Vlaanderen, E3 BinckBank Classic, the Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix.

He will race the Tour de Romandie before the Giro while other stars go to the Tour of the Alps. Sagan is planing a break before the Tour de France. The goal is more stage wins and another green jersey, and perhaps saving a bit of strength for the Olympic road race in Tokyo. He said he is unsure about both the Olympics and the worlds later in the year in Switzerland.

“They seem very hard,” he said of the road races. “But they are a long way into the season. There will be time to think about it.”