Sagan has been out of competition since abandoning the Tour de France after suffering a knee injury in a crash on stage 3. He left the race before stage 12 and underwent surgery because the wound became infected and inflamed the bursa on his knee. The injury forced Sagan to miss the Tokyo Olympic Games.
His return to the European Championships in Trento comes five years after Sagan was the first rider to win the newly-introduced elite men’s road race.
“My recovery is on the right track,” Sagan said according to race organisers. “I’m training intensively in order to get back to the best possible level.”
The men’s race is 179 kilometres in length, beginning with an opening loop of 73 kilometres in the Valle dei Laghi, then eight laps of a 13.2km circuit, which includes the Povo climb that is 3.6km in length and at an average gradient of 4.7 per cent. In theory the route should play into Sagan’s strengths.
“In a race such as the Road European Championships, there are so many factors that can influence a race and nearly all of them are beyond our control,” Sagan says. “Just that makes it impossible to truly foresee how it will play out. The only thing I am sure about is that I will give it my all, and I’ll try to get the best result I can.”
Before 2016, the Road European Championships had races only for U23 and junior riders. Starting in Plumelec, the elite men’s and women’s fields were added along with the mixed team relay. Sagan won the men’s road race ahead of Julian Alaphilippe and Daniel Moreno but never raced in the jersey because he was the reigning world champion before and after his victory.
“Without a doubt, the UEC Road European Championships have seen an impressive growth since 2016,” Sagan said. “I don’t know to what extent my victory contributed to this, but I’m happy to add my small stone even if it’s just a little bit. As for this year’s edition, I’m sure it will have a top-level field that will guarantee an exciting race.”
Also on the start list is Tour de France winner and Olympic medalist Tadej Pogačar, Tour of Flanders winner Kasper Asgreen, and Belgian Remco Evenepoel.