It will be a case of the more the merrier for Peter Sagan in 2021.
The Slovak star is planning an ambitious calendar this season that will see him targeting races from February through August with little room for breath.
“We plan to start his season with the spring classics, followed by the Giro, the Tour, and the Olympics,” Bora-Hansgrohe sport director Ján Valach told Pravda 100. “These are the highlights.”
The jam-packed schedule will see Sagan return to the Giro d’Italia after his debut at the race last fall. It was a shock decision that prevented him from racing the classics, but also landed him his first stage victory and three second-places at the Italian grand tour.
Sagan’s trip to Italy came hot on the heels of a Tour de France, where he was bettered by Sam Bennett in the battle for the green jersey, making it the first time he had completed the race without winning the points classification.
Valach stated that Sagan’s era of dominance over the race’s points competition is far from over.
“He’s still strong enough to fight it out again,” Valach said. “He [Sagan] is one of the fastest cyclists and can handle even demanding stages. Last year he needed to win one stage that would have turned over the card … He also lacked a bit of luck.”
The 30-year-old is heading to a 12-day training camp in Lake Garda, Italy, with the rest of the Bora-Hansgrohe squad next week. After that, Sagan heads to the Canary Islands along with a selection of his teammates as he starts to build toward his first goal, the classics.
Sagan’s decision to bypass the October block of one-day races in order to fulfil an obligation to the Giro organizers last year came as a shock given his prolific past on the cobbles, which includes victories at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Valach indicated that the classics could become an increasing focus for Sagan over the coming years.
“I see the space for him, especially in the classics,” said the Slovak director. “He is the ideal age for them. Peter still has a high performance and if we take into account the necessary experience he can apply in them, he can be successful, maybe even in his forties. This will be his main focus in the coming seasons.”
Despite seven top-10s at the Tour, a stage at the Giro, and fourth-place at Milano Sanremo, some considered Sagan’s loss of his fierce grip on the green jersey – which he has won seven times – the sign of a sub-par season. Valach suggested that like many older riders, Sagan didn’t adapt well to the COVID lockdown and frenzied race season that followed last year.
“It was a serious change in the traditional program,” Valach said. “I think he did well. He fought for the green jersey every day on the Tour, he continued in this style on the Giro as well. He lacked a better start before these events, in recent years he had a richer program before the Tour. Peter is the type of rider who can withstand more load, benefit from it, it doesn’t tire him and he gets better and better.”
“He is a fighter and can still claim victories,” Valach said of his star rider.
Sagan will have plenty of opportunities to claim victory should his 2021 proceed as planned.