Citing a staff member of his TotalEnergies team, the three-time World Road Race Champion will undergo tests to determine the cause of his physical problems and the appearance of “toxins after 200 kilometres” of riding. This would render him incapable of helping teammate Anthony Turgis at the end of the 272-km race. That was also the reason the 32-year-old Slovak was pulled out of last weekend’s Gent–Wevelgem ahead of the final climb.
Sagan will be replaced in the Tour of Flanders by French teammate Geoffrey Soupe. Instead, Sagan will be pointed to the less demanding Tour de Sarthe, a four-stage race to be run April 5-8. This has not been a good year for Sagan. It began with him coming down with Covid in January for a second time, which delayed his training start. He then suffered from a problem with his derailleur at the Milan–San Remo, finishing 92nd, and struggled in the E3 Saxo Bank Classic where he finished 68th.
His best result this season was fourth on the second stage of Tirreno-Adriatico but he was forced to drop out of the race ahead of the following stage after falling ill with a stomach bug. He did, however, finish fifth in the Milano-Torino, losing in a sprint finish, which was won by Mark Cavendish of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. Significantly, that race was run over only 199 km. In addition to his physical problems, Sagan has also expressed his displeasure with current rider behaviour on the pro tour, calling today’s professional peloton “total anarchy.”
In an interview with Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, Sagan complained that riders no longer pull out of the peloton to take a comfort break, even when there is no action. “The bathroom break just doesn’t exist anymore,” Sagan said. “I saw it again in the Haut Var. You used to have the fixed time to stop to urinate together… I understand if you ride the final of, say, the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix. But at a dead spot in the race? You don’t lose anything by stopping for a while.”
Sagan went on to say that riders are no longer slowing to allow the race leader to have a nature break. “I first noticed it when as a leader in a stage race I stopped to urinate,” he said. “They kept on attacking while that used to be a moment of rest in the peloton.” It’s not the first time that Sagan, who has been riding professionally since 2010, has complained about a lack of respect in the peloton. In previous 2015 and 2018 interviews, he spoke of riders “only thinking about themselves.”