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The 32-year-old’s place at the Tour de France was under severe threat when he was forced to abandon the Tour de Suisse in late June following a third case of COVID-19. But the veteran all-rounder bounced back with a win in the Slovakian national road race championships the weekend before the Tour de France and coasted to 140th in the opening time trial in Copenhagen on Friday.
“I think I’ve said what I’ve had to say. Now I feel very good. I had a couple of weeks at altitude in America and then I came back for the Tour de Suisse and I won there. After that I went to the national championships, and I won there. I think that I can’t complain,” Sagan said before the start of stage 2.
When asked about his health and form, and whether he was now in 100 percent condition, the three-time world champion pointed to his “100%” branded glasses and quipped, “well, I wear 100 percent.”
Sagan was then asked about the coming stage which is set to feature an 18km bridge crossing and potential crosswinds and echelons.
“It’s going to be a tough race. It’s going to be nervous in the bunch for sure. It’s going to be nice to see on television. Everyone wants to win and we’ll see what happens in the final.”
Sagan hasn’t won a Tour de France stage since 2019, although his win in the Tour de Suisse was proof of his remaining talents.
Sean Kelly, a four-time winner of the green jersey, told VeloNews last week that he believes Sagan will be in the mix for a stage win but that he now lacks the pure speed to compete with the best and that the likes of Wout van Aert will eclipse him in the medium mountain and intermediate stages, where Sagan would often go on long-distance raids in order to hoover up points.
“No, no, no. I don’t think so,” Kelly said when asked if Sagan could be a contender for the green jersey.
“He will be there with fourth and fifth, but if he can win against these guys then it would be a huge surprise to me. It would be a major turnaround and I don’t think he has that sprint anymore. And for green, I think that he’ll struggle on the flatter stages, and then on the stages where he would have once picked up points in the medium mountains, I don’t think that he’ll be there,” Kelly said.