Olympic Games: Slovak Cycling Association seeks wildcard MTB place for Sagan

Slovakia only gains one entry at Rio Olympics

The Slovak Cycling Association (Slovensky Zvaz Cyklistiki) is hoping to secure world champion Peter Sagan a wildcard entry into the Mountain Bike discipline at the Olympic Games. Ranked 21st in the latest standings issued today, Slovakia has qualified just one rider for the cross country event.

That sole spot is likely to go to Michal Lami or Martin Haring, who, at 36th and 94th respectively, are the country's best-ranked riders, with a decision to be made in the coming week. However, the national federation is hoping that they can get Sagan a place in Rio if other countries fail to use up their allocated quota.

"We sent an application specifically for Peter Sagan, for a second rider for Slovakia," Jan Žilovec, the chairman of the cross-country commission at the SZC told the aktualne.atlas.sk website.

"Should Peter be present in Rio, it would benefit the whole of cycling, not only in Slovakia. However, it depends on the terms of the UCI.

"The request for the wildcard was directly in the name of Peter Sagan. He, himself, said that the road race in Brazil didn't suit him so he chose the option to return to cross-country. After the Tour de France, there would be about a month for him to prepare for Rio."

Rumours about a potential bid for an Olympic mountain bike spot first cropped up last month when Sagan chose to ride two events in the build-up to the Tour of California but they were denied by his manager. Between his Tour of Flanders victory and heading stateside, Sagan chose to ride the Grazer Bike-Opening Stattegg in Austria on April 24 and the Czech Strabag MTB cup on April 30. He crashed and failed to finish his debut but rode to fourth place in the Czech Republic.

Sagan is a former junior mountain bike world champion (2008) but switched to the road in 2009 and joined Liquigas-Doimo the following season.

The UCI will allocate the unused 'quota places' on June 30. The men's cross-country race will take place on the final day of competition at the Olympic Games on August 21.

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