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Peter Sagan (TotalEnerrgies) returned to racing just over a week after delivering a positive COVID-19 test, confirming that he was ready for the Tour de France after taking victory in the road race at Slovakia’s National Championships for an eighth time.

The 197.2km race to decide the road title for Slovakia was run in conjunction with the Czech Republic’s National Road Championships – won by Matěj Zahálka. It took place on a circuit from Mladá Vožice in the Tabor region of the Czech Republic, with the 20km loop punctuated by a climb starting early.

“​​This race means a lot to me, especially with this year’s course which was very demanding,” said Sagan in a team statement. “Thank you to the Slovak public who encouraged me throughout the day.”

Sagan’s successful return to racing, after testing positive for COVID-19 after stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse, is a good sign ahead of the Tour de France, starting on July 1. It is still unclear how big an impact the cluster of COVID-19 positives at the Tour de Suisse will have on who can and can’t line up at the French Grand Tour, but the seven-time winner of the points classification certainly plans to be there.

“I am now impatiently awaiting the start of the Tour de France,” said Sagan.

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The three-time World Champion has had a challenging start to his first season at TotalEnergies, with the 32-year-old rider having tested positive to COVID-19 three times in the past eighteen months. The second of those came in January which hampered his preparation for the new season and another bout of illness then also ruined his Classics campaign. 

The latest COVID-19 positive came just days after he took his first victory in the colours of his new team at the Tour de Suisse on stage 3. The rider, at the time of leaving the race, however said he felt well and had no symptoms.

To take his second victory of the year at Slovakia’s National Championships, Sagan finished 1:42 ahead of Lukáš Kubiš (Dukla Banská Bystrica) while Matúš Štoček (ATT Investments) came third, a further 26 seconds back. Sagan has lined up at the race for the national road title 12 times and has also taken two second places alongside his eight victories.

“I’m so happy with my victory today,” said Sagan. “No matter how many times I have climbed onto the top step of the podium, I still feel the same pride and joy as when I won my first title.”

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
AUTHOR: Simone Giuliani
All copyrights for this article, including images, are reserved to the original source and/or creator(s).
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