Sagan starts prep for world championship title defense

Peter Sagan will race his first road event since the conclusion of the Tour de France. Bretagne-Classic Ouest France should suit the world champion.

After his mountain bike adventure in Rio de Janeiro was deflated by two punctures, Peter Sagan returns to pavement for this weekend’s Bretagne-Classic Ouest France.

In what will be his first road race since the conclusion of the Tour de France, Sagan will be among the favorites for the race formerly known as GP Plouay on Sunday.

“I’m looking forward to getting back on the road after Rio,” Sagan said in a team release. “The Olympics was a great experience, and it’s a shame that luck wasn’t on my side on the day as I feel I was capable of much more. I’m really keen to start the last part of the season with Tinkoff, and hopefully pick up from where we left off at the Tour de France.”

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Tinkoff sport director Patxi Vila said the hilly course in western France is ideal for Sagan, but downplayed his chances in what will be the world number one’s return to pavement in nearly a month.

“Our first plan is to support Peter as this race suits his strengths, however, we will see how he is feeling after Rio and the jet-lag too,” Vila said. “His training since the Tour was focused on preparing for the mountain bike race, but we will still go into the race with him as our first option, looking to take as many WorldTour points as possible.”

Following his successful Tour de France, Sagan leads the individual WorldTour rankings, with 445 points to Nairo Quintana (Movistar) with 407 points. Chris Froome (Sky) is in third, with 398 points. Both Quintana and Froome are racing at the Vuelta a España, and stand to gain more points than Sagan as he will be racing fewer days going into the end of the season.

The race also marks his march toward defending the rainbow jersey at the world championships in October in Qatar. Sagan is expected to race the pair of one-day races in Canada as well as the Eneco Tour ahead of his title defense in Doha.

Other favorites this weekend include defending champion Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Arnaud Demare (FDJ), recently crowned Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Tom Boonen (Etixx – Quick-Step), and Michael Matthews (Orica – BikeExchange).