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by Neal Rogers
November 21, 2016
Photography by Cor Vos
World road champion Peter Sagan may again be racing a mountain bike in 2017.
Speaking to journalists at his gran fondo charity event in Westlake Village, California, Sagan — who made the front group at the Olympic cross-country race in Rio de Janeiro before a puncture ended his medal chances — said that his contract with Bora-hansgrohe allows for him to race off-road when it doesn’t interfere with his road schedule.
“We will see,” Sagan said. “I can do mountain bike racing. It was part of the [contract] with Bora. We’ll see how it’s going in the season, and then I’ll have to decide my schedule. It’s not very easy to put it all together, to change from road bike to mountain bike. This year I did it because I had to prepare for the Olympic Games. I had to get the points, and it was really tough for me this year. It was [juggling] a lot of things.”
Sagan may have had a full schedule in 2016, juggling between road and mountain bike training and racing, but it didn’t interfere with his professional road results; in fact, it seems to have helped. Sagan’s dream season included wins at the Tour of Flanders, three stages and the green jersey at the Tour de France, the European Championship, and the World Championship. He finished the season ranked number one in the world.
The only thing missing was an Olympic medal, and while Sagan isn’t ruling out more mountain biking, he said he likely wouldn’t have the same drive for other off-road pursuits as he did in Rio.
For 2017, Sagan said his road schedule will follow the same pattern as years past. He’ll start at the Tour Down Under, focus on the spring classics, take a short break, return to the Amgen Tour of California, and then prepare for the Tour de France, where he hopes to tie Erik Zabel’s record of six green jerseys.
From there, he said, he’ll shape the remainder of his road schedule based upon his results.
“What I decided when I was under 23, is that it is impossible to be changing from road biking to mountain biking because it’s not the same,” Sagan said. “If you go riding the mountain bike, you should be doing mountain-bike races. You can train on the road bike, okay, but the focus is on the mountain bike. And if you are a professional road biker, you have to focus on the road bike. If I go for mountain bike, maybe it’s better than I just go for fun. I don’t know. We will see.”