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Sagan will skip Olympic road race in favor of MTB race

Reigning world champ Peter Sagan to trade road for MTB in Rio.

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Reigning world road cycling champion Peter Sagan will shun the road race at the Rio Olympics and take part in the cross-country mountain bike race instead, the Slovak Cycling Federation said Tuesday.

The 26-year-old Slovak Tinkoff rider is no slouch when it comes to off-road racing. Sagan won the 2008 junior world championships in cross-country mountain biking at Val di Sole, Italy. He also finished second at the UCI junior cyclo-cross world championships that year.

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“Peter has offered his road race berth in exchange for a cross-country spot,” said Peter Privara, head of the federation. “After the Tour de France, he will have four weeks for special training.”

“As far as we know him, he will not want to merely take part in the Olympics, he will want to fight for a top result,” Privara said. The charismatic Sagan is the defending world champion, having won the rainbow stripes in Richmond, Virginia last September. So far, he’s enjoying one of his best seasons yet, with victories at Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders.

Sagan has already been incorporating off-road cycling into his training regimen. The Slovakian rider was recently in Park City, Utah, preparing for the upcoming Tour de France. Sagan reportedly took in several cross-country training rides on the Deer Valley ski resort during his time in Park City.

Earlier this year, Sagan took a short break from road racing to participate in two cross-country mountain bike races. He crashed out of one event, held in Graz, Austria, and then finished fourth place at a Czech mountain bike race.

In 2012-2015, Sagan won four straight green jerseys at the Tour de France, where he has claimed four stage wins altogether alongside a host of second-place finishes.