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Peter Sagan’s Catalunya start puts Gent-Wevelgem, E3 Saxo Classic in doubt

Peter Sagan will participate in the Volta Catalunya, which puts his start in E3 Saxo Classic and Gent-Wevelgem in doubt.

Peter Sagan is choosing climbs over cobblestones this month.

On Monday organizers of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya revealed that Sagan will take part in the 2021 race, which runs March 22-28 across Northern Spain. The stage race, known for its punishing climbs in the region around Barcelona, overlaps with two Flemish cobbled classics: E3 Saxo Classic on March 26 and Gent-Wevelgem on March 28.

In choosing Catalunya, Sagan is likely bidding adieu to two of the early cobbled classics.

Sagan won the E3 Saxo Classic in 2014, and he owns three wins at Gent-Wevelgem (2013, 2016, and 2018). His last win at the cobbled classic came in 2018 and was a precursor to Sagan’s eventual triumph at Paris-Roubaix.

Skipping cobbled races is inline with Sagan’s recent racing decisions. In 2020 he chose to race the Giro d’Italia over Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix. Sagan ended the Giro with one stage victory, which was his sole win of 2020.

Sagan has endured a rocky start to the 2021 season. In early February he recorded a positive test for COVID-19 while attending a training camp in Gran Canaria, Spain, and was forced to go into quarantine. The time away forced him to miss the opening cobbled races at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, both of which Sagan has won before.

Sagan began his racing campaign at Tirreno-Adriatico, where he finished 11th in the bunch sprint on stage 1.