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Peter Sagan Fails to Qualify for the Paris Olympics in Mountain Biking

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Peter Sagan’s Olympic Dream HaltedBilly Ceusters - Getty Images

Peter Sagan, 34, has won countless classics, monuments, tour stages, and world championships. He has also won the Tour de France points classification a record seven times, earning him the nickname “Tourminator.” But last year, he announced his retirement from WorldTour racing with one caveat. He was going to compete in mountain biking at the Paris Olympics, where he first fell in love with the bike.

Unfortunately, his road to racing on dirt was riddled with more obstacles than he had expected. In February, Sagan was diagnosed with anomalous tachycardia, which is a cardiac arrhythmia. For that, he underwent an ablation procedure. Then, after initially returning to training, he was forced to stop and undergo a second procedure in March.

But Sagan was still hopeful. Having not raced much on a mountain bike, and with not many other Slovakian mountain bikers collecting UCI points, Sagan had his work cut out to secure a spot for Slovakia on the start list.

Slovakia needed to rank among the top 19 countries on the UCI’s MTB Olympic Qualification Ranking. However, after Nové Mĕsto World Cup last weekend, the final qualifying event, which Sagan attended but didn’t end up racing, Slovakia sat 35th, unable to earn a qualifying spot.

Because Sagan wasn’t able to collect UCI points due to his heart issues and procedures, he really just ran out of time and ran out of qualifying events. Sagan has yet to make a statement about not being able to qualify, and there are a few other ways that Slovakia could technically qualify, but ranking 35th puts them quite a ways down the list.

In the meantime, Sagan has been riding and racing with UCI Continental team Pierre Baguette Cycling, which is not a French team and is not a joke. It’s actually a relatively new team from Slovakia founded by Boris Horváth.

Horváth told Cycling Weekly, “‘Six years ago, I really didn’t know Peter. I just had it on my mind. I met him in Gran Canaria on a camp in 2020, during Covid, and I stopped him in training and started talking to him. [I did it] again, again, again, again. I helped him with some things, and we became friends.’

Two years later, Horváth started up his team, then made up of just 10 riders, all from Slovakia. He then upped the commercial deals in 2023, bringing on sandwich manufacturer and now title sponsor Pierre Baguette.”

Even though we likely won’t see Sagan racing in Paris this summer, we’re sure to see him on the roads and the trails for several years to come.

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