“Different things are important in my life, not only the bicycle,” Peter Sagan said late on Thursday evening, as reporters huddled around him in a VIP tent at a concert by Argentinian rock band, La Beriso, on the outskirts of San Juan. His chosen venue for the announcement of his retirement from road racing at the end of this season was oddly fitting in its own way. The man always did things differently.
Earlier in the week, Sagan had issued an invitation to the media on the Vuelta a San Juan to attend his 33rd birthday celebrations on the race’s rest day. Vague murmurs circulated in the press room that he might be contemplating retirement, but they were quickly dismissed. Most expected the soiree would offer little more than the promotion of the wares of some sponsor or another.
Instead, when Sagan walked into the tented area shortly before 10 p.m. local time with past and present Liquigas teammates Daniel Oss, Maciej Bodnar and Elia Viviani for company, it was clear that something rather more momentous than hawking a new shoe or showerhead was afoot.
Sagan’s pithiness has been a hallmark throughout his career, and his statement here was appropriately concise. Taking the microphone, he announced his intention to retire from WorldTour racing with TotalEnergies at the end of this year, he indicated his intention to race the mountain bike event at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, and he had words of thanks for his teams past and present. What else was there to say?
The timing and the venue of the announcement may have been unexpected – it was far too late for print deadlines in Europe, and it seems that media in his native Slovakia were not forewarned either – but its substance was not entirely surprising. Sagan had flagged it as long ago as the winter of 2019, when he contemplated his upcoming 30th birthday in an interview with Cyclingnews. “I don’t have a lot of years left. But that’s more motivating than frightening,” he said then.
Sagan’s life has moved fast from the moment he entered the WorldTour as a callow 20-year-old with Liquigas in 2010 and instantly morphed into an international superstar. One green jersey became seven. One world title became three. The victory celebrations went viral, and the contracts grew bigger, but so did the commitments.
Even when the bike rider needed rest, the brand couldn’t allow it. Another race, another flight, another ad campaign, another sportive bearing his name. Sagan’s residence changed…
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