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Vuelta unlikely for Sagan, all eyes on worlds three-peat

Bora-Hansgrohe confirms that Peter Sagan is solely focused on an unprecedented third consecutive world championship title.

BERGERAC, France (VN) — The Tour de France is a lesser race without Peter Sagan, but will the Vuelta a España be the sweepstakes winner?

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That’s unlikely. According to Bora-Hansgrohe, Sagan is expected to stick to his planned schedule despite his controversial ejection from the Tour on stage 4.

“The Vuelta is not on the program at the moment,” said Bora-Hansgrohe sport director Patxi Vila. “For sure, he will race the Eneco Tour and the worlds.”

Vila will huddle Wednesday with Sagan and other Bora coaches and staff to fill in the blanks between now and the world championships in Norway.

As Vila indicated, Sagan is confirmed to race the former Eneco Tour, now called the BinckBank Tour (August 7-13). Vila said Sagan will stick to a “WorldTour” schedule that could include the Canadian races in Quebec and Montreal in September, in a similar path he took to the 2016 worlds. He’d then head to Norway for a run at a third-consecutive rainbow jersey September 24.

“It would be nice to win a third rainbow jersey,” Vila said. “If you look to the profiles, it is the one that fits him best.”

No man has ever won three consecutive elite world road championship titles. Only four have won three rainbow jerseys in their careers: Italian Alfredo Binda, Spain’s Oscar Friere, along with Belgians Eddy Merckx and Rik Van Steenbergen.

That scuttles some speculation that Sagan could have returned to racing at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (July 31-August 6). Sagan enjoys training in Utah, including visits after the Amgen Tour of California.

Bora-Hansgrohe has had a rough Tour. It lost its superstar and team captain in the controversial jury decision in stage 4. On Tuesday, its GC man Rafal Majka did not start after a heavy crash in stage 9 that left his jersey shredded. Juraj Sagan is also out after missing the time cut Sunday.

“We don’t even pay attention to the sprints anymore,” Vila said. “Without Peter here, it’s not the same.”

After his emotional press statement defending his position in the sprint, Sagan took a few days off to move past the Tour expulsion. Vila said Sagan has turned the page, and is now preparing for his season’s third major goal.

“Peter is fine. I spoke to him this morning. He is back in the right mind,” Vila said. “He took a few days rest, and once again, he is super-motivated. He is focused now on the world championships.”

So is Sagan watching the Tour?

“I have no idea,” Vila laughed. “I don’t think so.”