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Tour de France

Peter Sagan: ‘I hope to grow still’ before the Tour de France

Arch-rival Alexander Kristoff was impressed: 'He looked like a bit like the old Sagan.'

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Peter Sagan is back in the winner’s circle but will it be enough to be a factor at the Tour de France?

Sagan and his TotalEnergies squad will be hoping so.

“It’s nice to win, but I hope I am going to grow still for the Tour de France,” Sagan said at the line.

The 32-year-old kicked to his first victory in team colors Tuesday at the Tour de Suisse, and everyone inside the team bus celebrated to see cycling’s “rock star” back on the top step of the podium in his first win of 2022.

“I’m happy for this stage win, my first one wearing the colors of TotalEnergies, and I definitely have to thank all my teammates for their hard work today. They pulled in the front all day and in the finale, I went for it and took the win,” Sagan wrote on social media. “As I said before, it was going to be hard to get back into racing mode after my sickness and three months without racing. It just takes time, but in the end, I made it and it feels nice to be back.”

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Sagan is expected to start the Tour next month and will face off against the likes of Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel in the fight for the green jersey.

Sagan admitted he’s missing racing speed in his legs, and hopes to push through the mountains of the Swiss tour to hone his form ahead of the Tour.

“It was not easy the last four or five months, and it was not easy to turn back after a long break without racing,” Sagan said Tuesday. “I was three months without races, and before I was racing, but I was sick, and I was struggling with what was going on with me.”

Ahead of the Tour de Suisse, he only raced 15 days, and only finished one stage race back in February. He pulled out of Tirreno-Adriatico in March will illness, and then eventually pulled the plug on the spring classics.

The victory is a sign that the worse could be behind him. Sagan’s win Tuesday was his career 18th stage win at the Swiss tour, and he fended off the likes of Alexander Kristoff and Tom Pidcock for the win.

“I feel great after this win,” he said. “My team worked hard for me to realize this victory. For me it is a great sign to be back in the peloton after my corona illness. And I have to say thanks to all my teammates. It was an amazing job from them.”

Kristoff: ‘Looked a bit like the old Sagan’

Some of Sagan’s competitors were also impressed.

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert’s Kristoff couldn’t answer when Sagan uncocked his sprint, and crossed the line third.

“In the last 300m I didn’t have the legs to sprint. When Sagan made his good sprint, I couldn’t answer,” Kristoff said. “I had a crash earlier in the race, and I was happy to make it to the sprint.

“I am used to be beaten by that guy, so it’s not been a big surprise. He’s not been super the last year or so, but it looks like he’s done some good training. He looked fresh on the climb today and looked like a bit like the ‘old Sagan.’ He was better than me today, so that’s it.”