Peter Sagan spearheaded the success of Bora-Hansgrohe riders in the road national championships, taking his seventh Slovakian road title with a solo victory in the combined race with the Czech Republic in Bánovce nad Bebravou on Sunday.
"I'm very proud and happy to have won my seventh Slovak national championship. I'd like to thank everybody for their support during the race, it feels nice to be back in Slovakia," Sagan said.
Sagan came across the line 35 seconds ahead of Czech riders Michael Kukrle and Dominik Neuman (both Elkov-Kasper), while the next-best Slovak rider, Matus Stocek, was a distant ninth at 3:02. Defending champion Juraj Sagan did not participate after breaking his collarbone in training. The Sagan brothers have taken the Slovak title for the past 11 years, with Juraj winning four.
It was the first of three national titles for Bora-Hansgrohe, with Max Schachmann taking home the German championship victory by a large margin over Jonas Koch and Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert).
Schachmann was national champion in 2019 but missed the rescheduled race in 2020 after being knocked down by a driver who had gotten onto the course in the finale of Il Lombardia and fractured his collarbone. Bora-Hansgrohe missed the win in 2020's German championships when Pascal Ackermann took second in the sprint to Marcel Meisen but Schachmann took no chances in securing the title for the German team.
"We wanted to avoid a situation like last year, so we made the race very hard from the start and then tried to attack in the right moments," Schachmann said. "Everyone really deserved this victory and I want to thank my teammates for all their tremendous work. It's really nice to be able to wear this jersey in the peloton yet again."
Patrick Konrad made it a hat-trick for the team with another solo success in the Austrian championships, riding away from Marco Haller (Bahrain Victorious). Teammate Patrick Gamper was third.
"I knew before the start that Marco would be very dangerous today because the course was perfect for him," Konrad said. "The race was really tough from relatively early on, as we went into the hills for the first time. I was able to attack with Gampi and then break away with him and Marco. However, it was a long fight, because our gap was never that big.
But with Pösti [Lukas Pöstlberger], we had a rider in the chasing group, so we were always able to rely on Plan B. Gampi rode an amazing race and I owe the victory to him. In the finale, I was able to leave Marco behind on the longer climb, but even then, I really had to go deep to prevent him from coming back to me. It's amazing to ride the Tour de France in the national champion’s jersey, and a great win for the team. I'm ready for the Tour, last week I was at altitude again and the form is just right to peak in the coming weeks."
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