Wheels Roundup: Sagan on the Road, Cavendish Wins, Vingegaard on a Bike

By Siegfried Mortkowitz

More than seven months after his “last” road race, cycling legend Peter Sagan has returned to the road to ride in the five-day Tour of Hungary. The race, which began on Wednesday, saw him line up with his brother Juraj as part of the Slovakian team Pierre Baguette.

“My expectation is to have some race kilometres, and for sure if I finish the Tour of Hungary it will put me at another level,” he told journalists before stage 1, as reported by Cyclingnews. “I have no big ideas to do something because I know it’s very hard. There are some riders who are training from October, November, and December and did big preparation before this race, and I’m out of this because of the heart surgery and recovery. I lost a lot of preparation.”

The 34-year-old Sagan retired from road racing last year to concentrate on MTB and the Paris Olympics. However, his preparations were interrupted by a serious heart issue that required two surgical interventions. He went on to say that his future plans remained open.

“I’ll see how I feel,” he said. “If my problem is solved or it’s going to come back. Nobody knows. I have no expectations. The next plan I’m going to do I’ll set after Tour of Hungary.”

Peter Sagan
More than seven months after his “last” road race, cycling legend Peter Sagan has returned to the road to ride in the five-day Tour of Hungary. © TASR / Profimedia

Cavendish finally wins on road to Tour de France record

Mark Cavendish, who has had a disappointing spring, finally won again as he took the bunch sprint on the second stage of the Tour of Hungary. It was the 38-year-old Astana Qazaqstan sprinter’s first victory since a stage win in January’s Tour Colombia. Since then, he failed to finish or beat the time limit in three races, including Milano-Torino and Tirreno-Adriatico.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest sprinters of all time, Cavendish has canceled his retirement from road racing twice in order to try and win his 35th Tour de France stage and therefore become the winningest Tour rider of all. He is currently tied with the great Eddy Merckx at 34 Tour stage wins each.

“I’m really, really happy,” Cavendish told Eurosport after the stage win. He had finished a disappointing sixth in stage 1, which he put down to a premature leadout. “So we talked and talked about how to rectify it today… and we executed exactly how we wanted to do it.”

It was the 164th victory of Cavendish’s career, which includes 54 Grand Tour stage wins, third on the all-time list.

Vingegaard is riding a bike again

The best news of the week – perhaps of the year – is that, just one month after crashing in the Itzulia Basque Country and sustaining severe injuries, Jonas Vingegaard is riding a bike again. In a video statement on Cyclism’Actu, the two-time Tour de France champion said, “It’s really nice to be able to ride like normal again and finally be able to ride on the road again is amazing. I feel good… I still have some things to recover from, but it’s getting better and better.”

The Visma–Lease a Bike leader suffered a broken collarbone, several fractured ribs and a punctured lung when he crashed into a concrete drainage ditch after apparently hitting a stretch of asphalt deformed by underground tree roots.

Vingegaard said again that he hoped to recover in time to defend his title at this year’s Tour, but that the outlook remained uncertain. “We don’t know how my shape and my recovery will go,” he said, “but I will do everything to get there in my top shape.”

However, given the severity of his injuries and the training time he has lost, this really seems like a long shot. But, at 27, Vingegaard is in his physical prime and he is, by all accounts, an extraordinary athlete with an almost superhuman ability to recover from extreme efforts. Cycling fans can only wait and hope for the best.