The former three-time road world champion crashed at least twice in the men's race but appeared to be uninjured as he got back on his bike to finish 16th, and with a crowd-pleasing wheelie over the finish line, on Friday in Les Gets, France.
The fourth edition of the e-MTB event at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships saw repeat winners in both the women's and men's races. Nicole Göldi brought Switzerland its third world title of this year's championships event while Jérôme Gilloux took the first win for host France.
There was an 'X' factor in the men's race that caused considerable pre-race discussion with the participation of Peter Sagan for Slovakia.
Sagan has mountain bike credibility as the 2008 junior world champion, but e-MTB is a different discipline, and he crashed at least twice, but got back on his bike and into the race, eventually finishing 16th at 5:25 behind the world title winner Gilloux.
Sagan, who races for TotalEnergies on the road, announced in July that he would continue to diversify his ambitions in cycling and confirmed he would participate at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in the e-MTB category saying, "It will be a party."
Sagan competed in the Tour de France in July where he finished in the top 10 on five stages, including in fifth place on the Champs-Élysées. Following the Tour de France, Sagan travelled to the United States for altitude training and returned to Europe to race the one-day BEMER Cyclassics in Germany last weekend, where he finished 31st.
Sagan didn't expect to be competitive in the e-MTB event at the Worlds, saying ahead of the race that his intention was to find a way to give back to the sport.
“I won't be able to be competitive and I'm not going for that. For me it will be a party, a way to give back to the fans at least a little of the affection they give me," Sagan said in a report by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Sagan began racing as a junior in cyclo-cross and mountain bike events, winning a junior cross-country world title in 2008, before shifting his focus to road racing in 2010 under his first WorldTour contract with Liquigas-Doimo.
He also raced in the cross-country mountain bike event for Slovakia at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, but a puncture left him a long way from a medal in 35th place.
He also took his love of off-road racing to the highly-popular gravel race, Unbound Gravel 100 in Emporia, Kansas, this summer where he finished 13th in the pro open men’s division, 54 minutes off the winning time of 21-year-old Ethan Overson.
Sagan has struggled through several occurrences of COVID-19 in the past two seasons, with a positive for the coronavirus coming a week prior to the 2022 Slovakian National Road Race Championships. However, he won the road race title for an eighth time in his career.
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