The future is unwritten. Peter Sagan ought to have been readying himself to begin his season in Argentina later this month at the Vuelta a San Juan, but instead he faces a succession of training camps before making his 2021 debut at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on the final weekend of February.
On Saturday, Bora-Hansgrohe directeur sportif Jan Valach suggested that the Slovakian was set to ride the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Tokyo Olympic Games and World Championships in a packed 2021 programme, but Sagan told reporters on Sunday that no decision has been taken about his schedule beyond his usual rendezvous with the Classics.
“We’ll have to see what the schedule will be,” Sagan said in a video conference from the Bora-Hansgrohe training camp on Lake Garda.
“For now, I have a schedule up to the Classics. After that, we have to see what I’m going to do. We have to decide, because it’s a very important year with the Olympic Games and a World Championships [in Flanders] that could be good.”
Sagan missed the rescheduled cobbled Classics last Autumn, preferring instead to combine the Tour with a Giro debut that had been planned long before the coronavirus pandemic upended the calendar. He will return to the cobbles in March and April, but with the pandemic already forcing revisions to the 2021 calendar, he insisted that it was premature to outline a racing programme for the summer.
“It’s not sure. Like I said, after the Classics, we’ll see what is going to happen. Now a lot of races are cancelled. We will see how we are going to manage this year. I think we still need some time to plan everything,” said Sagan, though he suggested that he would opt for the Tour de France over the Tokyo Olympics should quarantine requirements compel him to choose between the two races.
“If we have to decide now, for sure I’m going for the green jersey again. But nobody knows what’s going to happen. We might have to be in Japan two weeks before, but with a vaccination there could be different rules, we still don’t know. We will see what’s going to happen in the next five months.”
Earlier on Sunday, Sagan’s teammate Emanuel Buchmann confirmed that he will target the Giro d’Italia in 2021, while it has long been suggested that Bora-Hansgrohe would hand a Tour debut to sprinter Pascal Ackermann this season. Sagan neatly side-stepped a question about whether his and Ackermann’s ambitions could co-exist in July.
“The Tour is still far away, you know, and afterwards I will see what is going to be my schedule,” he said.
“I think also for Pascal, we will see what is going to be his schedule. We will see later. Until now, we are ready for the racing, but we are in a moment and a situation again where some races are cancelled. We will see what’s going to happen next month.”
But if the Tour goes ahead as planned?
“I won’t answer this question, and you know why,” Sagan grinned. “If doesn’t exist.”
In the here and now, Sagan is in Peschiera del Garda for a training camp with his Bora-Hansgrohe squad until January 17, and he will travel onwards for another camp in Gran Canaria before moving to altitude in Sierra Nevada in February.
“After it should be Nieuwsblad and Kuurne,” Sagan said. “If it’s going to happen, nobody knows. But that’s the schedule.”
By the time Sagan fleshes out the remainder of his racing programme in April, his future beyond 2021 might also be decided. He is in the final year of his contract with Bora-Hansgrohe, but it remains to be seen if he will stay with the German squad or move elsewhere.
“I think it’s better to ask this question to Ralph Denk or my agent Giovanni Lombardi, not to me,” said Sagan. “I am very happy in this team. I’m staying another year and then we will see what’s going to happen.”
Sagan’s arrival at Bora in 2017 helped to guarantee the squad’s passage to the WorldTour, but Denk’s team has become less dependent on the three-time world champion in the years since, particularly given the strong cadre of German riders on the roster, led by Buchmann, Ackermann and Max Schachmann.
“That’s good. The more strong guys, the better the team is,” said Sagan, who smiled when asked if his role had changed over the years. “No, I’m still here.”