Peter Sagan has always had a few tricks up his sleeve. So the 33-year-old Slovak surprised his audience on the sidelines of the San Juan (Argentina) cycling race by announcing his retirement from the track at the end of the season to devote himself to mountain biking ahead of the Olympics. 2024 .
“This is my last year on the road as a professional,” said the three-time world champion (2015, 2016, 2017), who won 12 stages of the Tour de France, the 2016 Tour of Flanders and “ Paris”. -Roubaix in 2018. I will be staying with Total Energies next year to focus on qualifying for the 2024 Olympics in mountain biking. »
In 2024, Sagan, the panache puncher who finished 35th at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will run a few smaller races but will no longer compete in World Tour events. He will definitely get off the saddle after Paris. This surprise announcement fits in with the career of this accomplished showman, who often made headlines for his sometimes surreal interviews, his bizarre celebrations, as well as his deviations, such as when he pinched his hostess on the buttocks during a tour of Flanders. in 2013.
Outside of the show, however, Sagan gained widespread popularity on the road, especially at the Tour de France, where the formidable sprinter reigned virtually undivided in the green jersey between 2012 and 2019, winning it seven times, which is a record. He earned the nickname “The Hulk”, only his elimination from the Tour due to a push in 2017 prevented him from achieving an unprecedented streak.
“I am happy that a career does not take too many years”
But Sagan is more than a sprinter: proof of his versatility, he won the green jersey twice (2014, 2015) without winning a single stage, showing that he easily tackles bumps to counter fighters, his many attacks spice up sleepy stages. . “I’m here to have fun. I don’t see the point in doing my job without having fun. To spend a day in the peloton without trying anything is very little for me,” he explained in 2015.
“He does a lot of good things in cycling. He has panache. It brings freshness. He really is a runner who moves the crowd,” greeted Belgian Eddy Merckx, generally considered the greatest runner in history, in 2017, who already in 2015 found it “incredible that a runner with his talent earns so little.”
Since then, Sagan has made history in his sport by scoring a historic hat-trick from 2015 to 2017 at the World Championships. Richmond (USA), Doha (Qatar), Bergen (Norway): on three different continents and with different scenarios, Sagan equaled the total of victories with … Merckx or another legend, Alfredo Binda.
The Slovak has also won four stages of the Vuelta and two stages of the Giro, as well as taking the cyclamen jersey at the 2021 Tour of Italy. Less radiant in recent years, Sagan made no secret of his fatigue from the world of cycling, leaving him uncertain about his future.
“I am happy that a career does not take too many years,” he said in an interview with the Dutch magazine Fiets at the end of 2018. “It is impossible for me to imagine another fifteen years in this world of cycling. »