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'Violence against women is wrong' says Peter Sagan after Geniez court verdict

LIDO DI CAMAIORE ITALY MARCH 06 Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Team Total Energies attends to the 57th TirrenoAdriatico 2022 Top Riders Press Conference TirrenoAdriatico WorldTour on March 06 2022 in Lido di Camaiore Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) at Tirreno-Adriatico (Image credit: Getty Images)

Peter Sagan will start Tirreno-Adriatico hoping that the seven days of racing can help him shake off a recent flu virus and boost his form after a second bout of COVID-19 wrecked his January pre-season training.

The three-time world champion was hoping to start 2022 in style after moving to French team TotalEnergies but both he and the team are facing a difficult spring.

Sagan faces a race against time to be for the cobbled classics, while the TotalEnergies team is in the headlines after veteran French rider Alexandre Geniez was given a four-month suspended prison sentence for domestic violence against his former wife.

Team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau has been forced to explain why the team cannot take action against Alexandre Geniez after initially avoiding talking about the case.  

Bernaudeau told Cyclingnews in an interview that he remains “powerless” while his rider appeals the French court verdict. Bernaudeau repeatedly cited French employment laws as the reason for his team’s stance or lack of it.

Sagan has never met Geniez and did not want to specifically talk about his case but told Cyclingnews that his position on violence against women is clear.  

“I don’t know anything about this case and so you did the right thing by speaking to Jean-Rene about it. My personal opinion is pretty obvious but pretty clear: Violence against women is wrong,” Sagan said firmly.    

Sagan was happy to move from Bora-Hansgrohe to TotalEnergies for 2022 but the opening two months of the year have been a battle against health problems. His second bout of COVID-19 meant he missed over two weeks of training in January and his recent illness is another step back as he tries to make steps forward as quickly as possible.

“I got COVID-19 for the second time in January. This week I had a little bit of flu. It's already passing and I just hope to be better during Tirreno-Adriatico,” Sagan said on Sunday.

“I can’t really set myself any goals, I’ve just got to see how the racing goes day after day. It all depends on my form.”

Sagan made his season debut at the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var stage race in France in mid-February and then rode Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne before his latest illness.

His results have naturally been modest due to the setbacks and so he needs a block of hard racing in Italy this week. Milan-San Remo is on March 19, with the Belgian Classics coming thick and fast after that.  

“The real season starts now, via Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice,” Sagan said.

“Then it’s Milan-San Remo and the next Classics in Belgium. They’re big goals for all the riders who do the Classics and so they’re goals for me too.

“There’s little else to say. I just have to keep on racing, keep on suffering and hope my form comes good as quickly as possible.”

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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.