Peter Sagan has responded to comments that he may be past his best ahead of Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.
Sagan is not among the favourites for the race after recovering from a COVID-19 infection in February that put him out of training.
But he is keen to prove that he still has plenty more to give after Bora-Hansgrohe team manager Ralph Denk questioned whether the Slovakian merited a new contract for 2022.
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“We are very grateful for what Sagan has done for us. The sponsors have received a lot of attention thanks to him but he is entering the autumn of his career,” Denk was reported as saying in an interview with Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.
“And he's one of the best paid professionals in the peloton. We just have to weigh up: Do we still want to afford it? Or is it better to invest the money in younger riders?"
But 31-year-old Sagan, in his 12th season at WorldTour level and winner of 114 individual races, is adamant he still has plenty left in the tank and said he’d carry on cycling elsewhere if he is not offered a new contract with Bora-Hansgrohe.
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“I don’t know if Ralph said exactly what was written in the media, I haven’t read it and sometimes a phrase in an interview gets taken out of context,” Sagan told Cyclingnews.
“I honestly don’t feel old. I’m 31, I don’t feel in the autumn of my career and I think I’ve shown I can still win races even if my spring has been hampered by the COVID-19 virus.
“I’ve been busy racing so I haven’t yet sat down to talk with Ralph, so my future has still to be decided. I’ve had some great years at Bora-Hansgrohe but if Ralph sees me as past my best then that’s his opinion. If he thinks he doesn’t need me to win races for the team, I’ll be the first person to try to find a team that really wants me.”
Sagan has been in Belgium since Wednesday and is undergoing preparing for Sunday’s race.
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