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Giro d'Italia

Peter Sagan on Dylan Groenewegen: He made a mistake, it’s good he is back

Sagan has a lot to race for at the Giro, with his place on this year's Tour de France squad and a contract for 2022 still to be decided.

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Peter Sagan is happy to see Dylan Groenewegen return to the peloton.

Groenewegen and Sagan will be going toe-to-toe in the sprints at the Giro d’Italia, which begins Saturday. The Italian grand tour is Groenewegen’s first back after serving a nine-month suspension for being involved in Fabio Jakobsen’s horror crash at the 2020 Tour of Poland.

“Of course, what happened at the Tour of Poland was an accident,” Sagan said Friday during a press conference in Turin. “In life and in sport, everyone can make a mistake. I do not judge him. I’ve done many sprints against him in the peloton, and I think that it is good he is back in the peloton.”

Also read: Peter Sagan to doubters after Tour de Romandie win: ‘I never left’

As much as it is hard to know which Sagan will turn up at a race, it is the same for his press conferences. A stressed Sagan will not say more than a couple of sentences. However, he appeared in a jovial mood as he greeted the press Friday.

This is Sagan’s second appearance at the Giro d’Italia after he made a long-awaited debut at the race last year. A blinding breakaway victory on stage 10 help to put a stop to a frustrating string of near misses during the COVID-19 interrupted season.

In contrast, he arrives in Turin with two wins under his belt at the Volta a Catalunya and the recent Tour de Romandie, despite his spring campaign being hit when he contracted coronavirus.

“The situation is different to last year because we are starting racing in a more normal way this year compared to last year,” Sagan said. “It’s a different season and the preparation has been more normal.

“I don’t want to say that I’m relaxed because I’m motivated to do well. At the same time, it’s not like I was particularly stressed for the Giro last year.”

Tour de France start and contract talks

Sagan’s performance at the Giro d’Italia will decide the complexion of the rest of his season. Bora-Hansgrohe is set to decide whether or not the Slovakian will also attend the Tour de France over the course of the next three weeks.

Also read: Giro d’Italia storylines: From Peter Sagan to Egan Bernal, here’s what we’re watching this month

His results could also have ramifications for his overall future as he looks to ink a new contract for the 2022 season. Rumors abound as to where Sagan might find a home next year, from a switch to Deceuninck-Quick-Step or Movistar, or staying where he is at Bora-Hansgrohe.

Sagan was his usual laconic self when pushed on the matter.

“Cycling is here, now need to think about the race and the contract will arrive,” he shrugged.

Enough said, it would seem.

Sagan will not just have his own goals and future to consider during the Giro d’Italia with Emanuel Buchmann targeting the GC for the team.

Trying to balance stage hunting and playing the team game will not have Sagan too stressed out. He’s been there before.

“During my career, I have always raced for big GC leaders like Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador in the past and I have always managed to help them in moments in a grand tour,” Sagan said. “We will have to see where we are after the gravel stages in Montalcino.

“We will definitely have to be united as a team and protect our leader, also on stages where we might have a headwind.”