A little over a week after testing positive for COVID-19, Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) confirmed that he was back in the game and ready for the Tour de France by winning the Slovakian National Road Race Championships for the eighth time in his career.
The 197.2km course to decide the road race title for Slovakia was run in conjunction with the Czech Republic's National Championships – won by Matěj Zahálka. It took place on a circuit in Mladá Vožice, in the Tabor region of the Czech Republic, with the 20km loop punctuated by an early climb.
"This race means a lot to me, especially with this year's course which was very demanding," said Sagan in a team statement. "Thank you to the Slovak public who encouraged me throughout the day."
Sagan’s successful return to racing, after testing positive for COVID-19 after stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse, is a good sign ahead of the Tour de France, starting on July 1. It is still unclear how big an impact the cluster of COVID-19 positives at the Tour de Suisse will have on who can and can't line up at the French Grand Tour, but the seven-time winner of the points classification certainly plans to be there.
"I am now impatiently awaiting the start of the Tour de France," said Sagan.
The three-time World Champion has had a challenging start to his first season at TotalEnergies, with the 32-year-old rider testing positive for COVID-19 three times in the past eighteen months. The second of those positives came in January, which hampered his preparation for the new season, and another bout of illness then also ruined his Classics campaign.
The latest COVID-19 positive came just days after he took his first victory in the colours of his new team at the Tour de Suisse on stage 3. At the time of leaving the race, Sagan said he felt well and had no symptoms.
To take his second victory of the year at Slovakia's National Championships, Sagan finished 1:42 ahead of Lukáš Kubiš (Dukla Banská Bystrica) while Matúš Štoček (ATT Investments) came third, a further 26 seconds back. Sagan has lined up at the race for the national road title 12 times and has also taken two second places alongside his eight victories.
“I'm so happy with my victory today," said Sagan. "No matter how many times I have climbed onto the top step of the podium, I still feel the same pride and joy as when I won my first title."
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*
Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
after your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59
Join now for unlimited access
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.