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Peter Sagan’s return to racing on European soil got off to a rough start this week in Italian stage race Tirreno-Adriatico. He arrived at the race barely recovered from an illness that has sapped his spring form. Plus, his Bora-Hansgrohe team’s stage 1 team time trial was spoiled by an errant pedestrian who caused two teammates to crash.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday at Tirreno, Sagan said he was bedridden for six days in Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountains, where he would ordinarily be putting in hard training hours to prep for the spring classics.
“I had to stay in my room, sick, and couldn’t ride,” he said. “I’ve lost a lot of form since Argentina [Vuelta a San Juan] without racing. I was training hard in Sierra Nevada, but, since getting sick, I’ve lost a little bit. But I’m recovering now, and hopefully, I’ll get better. There’s still a long time to go until the classics.”
Sagan is a seven-time stage winner at the seven-day Tirreno-Adriatico event. However, this year he said he simply “survived” the stage 1 team time trial.
On Thursday, in a punchy stage 2 that would ordinarily suit his strengths, Sagan finished 155th.
To add insult to injury, his teammates Oscar Gatto and Rafal Majka crashed in stage 1 when a pedestrian walked in front of their team as it sped through the flat racecourse in the rain. Sagan managed to remain upright, swerving around the person. Gatto and Majka also finished stage 2 but were well behind the front group.
Despite his dismal start to Tirreno, Sagan said he remains optimistic for some of his key goals this spring. In 2019, he is focused on adding to his tally of monument victories, with Milano-Sanremo first on the list, March 23.
“There’s still a long time to go until the classics,” he added. “I’m here for a week, and then from Milano-Sanremo until Paris-Roubaix it’s another three weeks, and then another two weeks after that until Liège-Bastogne-Liège, so there’s still time.”
In 2018, Sagan was sixth in Sanremo, and he won Paris-Roubaix. Liège is a new addition to his spring schedule due to the revised route.