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The three-time world champion has dominated nearly every race on the cycling calendar over the past couple seasons, with a focus on the Tour de France that has paid off with five green points jerseys and eight stages wins. Doing so, with the Tour of California as preparation, has seen him turn his back on the Giro d’Italia consistently since he turned professional in 2010.
“One time in his career, he should come, also because there are a lot of stage opportunities for him,” Sagan’s former team-mate and Italian Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) told VeloNews.
“For an Italian, it’s amazing with all the fans. I had to come here after the Olympics [gold medal], that’s really emotional. Peter loves Italy in general, so I think he’d love the Giro d’Italia.”
“He prefers to go to California, and maybe that’s a smart idea!” joked Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe).
“With the Italian fans, it’d be nice of for him. Right now, he focuses on the Tour, but he’s missing out on the good food and wine. It’d be a good chance for him. Maybe, I’ll text him tonight and tell him to come.”
Sagan is in California this week trying to add more stage wins to his tally. Racing it nine times, he has hauled in 16 stage victories and in 2015, the overall win.
The short stage race fits perfectly into his season. He finishes his run in the classics that includes the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, which he won this year, and the Tour de France in July.
Italian Max Sciandri, sports director at BMC Racing, smiled when the idea of Sagan racing in the Corsa Rosa came up.
“The only difficult part would be that he goes full gas into those classics, but he has time after the classics to recover for Giro d’Italia,” Sciandri said.
“He can climb, descend and attack, almost everything. And the Giro d’Italia has it all. It’s also one of the most beautiful races in the world. I know that he loves California and the U.S. mentality and wants to keep that same road to the Tour, but the Giro suits him.”
“It’s difficult, yeah, but if you decide to have a late condition for Flanders and keep the shape through to the Giro then you can do a good Giro and take a rest and be ready for the Tour de France. A guy like Sagan can do that,” said Trek-Segafredo general manager Luca Guercilena.
“The Italians would say, ‘Yes, Peter should come once’, but I know that [the Bora-Hansgroghe management] Ralph Denk and Patxi Vila is trying to make the most out of it. It’s up to the management, and as a manager, I can understand their position.”
The Giro d’Italia is celebrating its 101st edition this year with a start outside of Europe in Israel, a first for a grand tour. It existed well before and will continue well beyond the Slovakian’s career.
Racing in the country that produced Fausto Coppi and pasta Bolognese – and in its greatest race– is a right of passage, however.
“I don’t’ know if the Giro needs Sagan, there are a lot of stars every here in the Giro,” Rik Van Slycke, Quick-Step Floors sports director explained.
“If Sagan is here, it’d be super, but I don’t think that the race will die or survive with Sagan.
“If you want to do the Tour de France as well, the three things together [with the classics and Giro d’Italia]… I wouldn’t say it’s impossible, but I wouldn’t say it’s a good idea.”
“Why isn’t Peter here?” said Jens Zemke, sports director at Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe team. “We have main sponsors in the U.S. so the Tour of California is good for us and with the Tour de France ahead, we keep his same program.
“I’d be happy to have him here in the Giro! Yeah! We should talk to him about it, it’s always an option.”