Peter Sagan has put his trust in the UCI and race organisers for the safe return of racing, suggesting there is no reason to be scared of catching the COVID-19 coronavirus while racing in a peloton as long as riders are tested before events and everyone respects the health and safety protocols.
The UCI is expected to reveal its medical protocol this week, with leading race organisers and teams also looking at measures to protect the riders, the race caravan and the crowds.
Speaking to the media during a conference call from altitude in Sölden, Austria during the Bora-Hansgrohe training camp, Sagan confirmed that he will miss the rescheduled cobbled Classics in October and so respect his agreement with race organiser RCS Sport to ride the Giro d'Italia.
He will return to racing at Strade Bianche and then ride Milanp-Torino and Milan-San Remo in early August, and then the Criterium du Dauphine (August 12-16), before lining up in Nice for the Tour de France on August 29. He will skip the World Road Race Championships if they remain on the mountainous course in Switzerland to recover for the Giro d'Italia.
Sagan will race the 42 stages of the two Grand Tours in just 58 days due to the rearrangement of the calendar but he also refused to rule out leaving the Giro d'Italia in the final week so that he can line up for Paris-Roubaix on October 25.
Sagan revealed he spent the COVID-19 pandemic under lockdown in Monaco, rarely posting on social media and keeping a low profile as a sign of respect for the people suffering during the global crisis. He self-isolated for three weeks from his son Marlon and ex-wife after riding Paris-Nice, and then spent time training indoors until early May.
"For sure it was a strange situation. It wasn't a normal life. I'd been in contact with a lot of people so when I went home to Monaco, I closed myself in my apartment for three weeks to avoid infecting my ex-wife and my son. I did some prevention but, fortunately, I never felt sick or had any symptoms. I felt a little down, not depressed, but without energy," Sagan said of his life under lockdown.
Despite clearly being affected by the effect of COVID-19 on the world, Sagan brushed off a sense of fear when he returns to racing at Strade Bianche, putting his trust in the authorities, race organisers and the UCI.
Sagan rarely takes a public stance on important matters of governance in cycling and was not keen to enter the debate about whether racing should somehow be held behind closed doors or with regulated crowds. Some experts have dismissed that racing can return without putting the health of riders and spectators at risk but race organisers – notably, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme – have refuted the idea of holding races without crowds.
"It's not a decision I can make. I have to accept how it is. We've been locked at home for enough time. They've also opened all the restaurants and started the soccer season and other sports, so why not cycling?" he said, revealing his personal desire to return to racing.
"For sure, we're not in a stadium. They have to make some rules on what we can do, what instructions we have to do to protect ourselves and others. If they have to close the roads for spectators, then they have to think about that. I have to think about performing well and then we'll see what happens."
"For sure, before the race, there will be instructions that we have to be tested. Even here at our first training camp, everyone has been tested both with a test in the nose and of our blood to see if we're positive or negative or if we had coronavirus or not. That's how it'll be at the races. If everyone is negative, why do I have to be scared?"
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