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Sagan lights up UCI gala after worlds repeat

Peter Sagan and other riders were honored at the UCI's annual awards ceremony two days after the close of the worlds.

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ABU DHABI (VN) — World champion Peter Sagan starred in Tuesday night’s UCI cycling gala before departing to meet his new Bora – Hansgrohe team in Germany.

Sagan showed up for the gala in Abu Dhabi looking more seventies hipster than a two-time world champion. He explained off stage that he bought his polka-dot suit — complete with a silver cane and cap — prior to going to Doha, Qatar, where he won the world championship Sunday.

The UCI, celebrating its second cycling gala, called Sagan on stage twice as winner of the WorldTour and the world champion for the second year in a row. Sagan, who last year dressed like a motor biker, said little, as usual.

“This season? The most special moment for me was to be at home. It happened, sometimes, not too much. I’m very lucky, I hope to go home after this,” Sagan said.

“This WorldTour classification trophy… The meaning? I’m happy to be here. I’m proud of this trophy. Thanks very much. Everyone is a big champion here. I’m just happy to be here among them.”

UCI president Brian Cookson grinned with the 2015 and 2016 champion’s comments.

“It’s fun to have a world champion like Peter,” Cookson added. “I think he can do anything on the bike. Next year, I expect him to do the artistic bike riding, which we just saw on the stage.”

Two artistic cyclists circled and spun on stage between presentations. Sagan had little time to enjoy the show because he had to sleep before an early Wednesday morning flight to Germany.

This summer, Sagan signed a three-year contract with German team Bora – Argon 18, which will become Bora – Hansgrohe next year. Sagan joins Tinkoff teammates Juraj Sagan (Sagan’s older brother), Rafal Majka, Michael Kolar, Erik Baska, Jay McCarthy, Pawel Poljanski, and Maciej Bodnar on the German outfit, and he brings along bicycle sponsor/manufacturer Specialized.

This week near Bora’s headquarters in Raubling, Sagan will meet up with his new teammates and boss Ralpf Denk as the squad begins planning for the 2017 season. Sagan already announced he will begin in January at Australia’s Santos Tour Down Under.

Other riders, from Olympic stars Fabian Cancellara (Trek – Segafredo) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) to women’s world champion Amalie Dideriksen (Boels – Dolmans), came on stage for awards at Tuesday’s gala, but no one lit it up like Sagan.

The event was organized by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the United Arab Emirates Cycling Federation, in collaboration with RCS Sport. It came ahead of the Abu Dhabi Tour, which runs Thursday through Sunday.

“The UCI cycling gala gives us the opportunity to celebrate the magnificent performances from what has been a memorable season,” Cookson said. “The festivities take place at an ideal moment in the season, just days after the world championships in Doha, Qatar, which hosted the discipline’s first worlds in the Middle East.”

The only downside is that the gala lacked the grand tour winners, which it awarded last year, because the 2017 Tour de France route presentation was happening the same day in Paris.

Sagan took note of the 2017 Tour route. After the classics, he is expected to race for a sixth consecutive green jersey with Bora.