Peter Sagan has always had more than one trick up his sleeve.
The Slovak, 33, therefore surprised his audience on the sidelines of a cycling race in San Juan (Argentina) by announcing his retirement from the road at the end of the season in order to devote himself to mountain biking with a view to the Olympic Games 2024 .
“This is my last year on the road as a professional, said in Italian during an improvised press conference the triple world champion (2015, 2016, 2017), who won during his 13-year career 12 stages of the Tour de France, the 2016 Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in 2018. Next year, I will stay with Total Energies to focus on qualifying for the 2024 Olympic Games in mountain biking.
Ladies and gentlemen… PETER SAGAN!
— Team TotalEnergies (@TeamTotalEnrg) January 10, 2023
In 2024, Sagan, the puncher full of panache, 35th at the Rio Olympics in 2016, will do a few minor races but no more World Tour events.
He will definitely descend from the saddle after Paris.
This surprise announcement is in line with the career of this accomplished showman, who has often made headlines for his sometimes surreal interviews, his whimsical celebrations, but also his deviations, such as when he pinched the buttocks of a hostess during of the Tour of Flanders in 2013.
Beyond the show, however, it is on the roads that Sagan has gained wide popularity, especially on the Tour de France where this formidable sprinter reigned almost unchallenged on the green jersey between 2012 and 2019, winning it seven times. , a record.
He earned the nickname "Hulk", only his exclusion from the Tour for a nudge in 2017 preventing him from achieving an unprecedented series.
“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 himself to be at ease in the bumps to counter the fighters, his multiple attacks spicing soporific stages.
"I'm here to have fun.
Doing your job without taking pleasure, I don't see the point.
Spending the day in the peloton, without trying anything, very little for me”, he explained in 2015.
“He does cycling a lot of good.
He has panache.
It brings freshness.
He really is a runner who thrills the crowds", greeted in 2017 the Belgian Eddy Merckx, generally considered the greatest runner in history, who already in 2015 found "incredible that a runner of his talent earns so little ".
Records of Peter Sagan (33 years old) before his last season on the road:
3x world champion (in a row)
7x green jersey, 12 stages of the TDF
Tour of Flanders
4 Vuelta stages, 2 of the Giro
Quebec GP x2
Tour of Poland pic.twitter.com/xB2bI74qtZ
— The Gruppetto (@LeGruppetto) January 27, 2023
Sagan has since made history in his sport, achieving a historic hat-trick from 2015 to 2017 at the World Championships.
Richmond (USA), Doha (Qatar), Bergen (Norway): in three different continents and with varied scenarios, Sagan has equaled the total of victories of… Merckx or another legend, Alfredo Binda.
The Slovak also won four stages of the Vuelta and two in the Giro, also taking the cyclamen jersey in the 2021 edition of the Tour of Italy.
Less radiant in recent years, Sagan did not hide his fatigue from the world of cycling, leaving uncertainty about his future.
“I am happy that a career does not take too many years”, he declared at the end of 2018 in an interview with the Dutch magazine Fiets.
“It is impossible for me to imagine myself still fifteen years in this world of cycling.