Peter Sagan has surgery less than 2 weeks before Olympic road race

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Three-time world champion Peter Sagan had surgery to treat an infection in his right knee that occurred following a crash at the Tour de France, leaving his status for the Tokyo Olympics in question less than two weeks before they begin.

Sagan tangled with Caleb Ewan on the third stage of the race and went down hard at high speed. The knee was hit by the chainring on his bike, leaving a deep gash that his Bora-Hansgrohe team treated with antibiotic ointment through the past 10 days. But eventually the infection became too serious for Sagan to continue with the race.

The surgery was performed near his home in Monaco and Sagan said he hopes to resume training in a couple days.

“We did everything possible on site at the Tour, but even antibiotic treatment couldn’t prevent an infection,” said team physician Christopher Edler. “The only option was to stop racing and get the bursa surgically removed. Luckily, it was only superficial infection, and the knee joint is not involved in this at all. The surgery went well, and I think Peter will be able to start with light training again in a couple of days.”

The 31-year-old Sagan is expected to compete alongside older brother Juraj Sagan for Slovakia in the Olympic road race on July 24. He is expected to make a decision in the coming days whether to travel to Tokyo.

The punchy course that starts at Musashinonomori Park, climbs the slopes of Mt. Fuji and finishes at the Fuji Speedway west of Tokyo would fit Sagan’s riding style quite well. He has the ability to hang with the climbers on the hills but also has enough power to win a bunch sprint should a select group arrive at the closing circuit together.

Sagan, one of the most accomplished cyclists of the past decade, skipped the road race at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and instead competed in the mountain biking, where a punctured tire early in the race ruined his medal chances.

“Unfortunately, antibiotic treatment couldn’t prevent an infection. The only option was to stop racing at the Tour de France and get the bursa surgically removed,” Sagan said in a statement. “Luckily, it was a superficial infection and the knee joint is not involved in this at all. I’d like to thank the doctors and medical staff at IM2S clinic in Monaco for performing an excellent surgery on such short notice and for their great cooperation with the team’s medical staff.”

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Australia’s Jay Vine defended his overnight lead to win the Tour Down Under, the first event of the 2023 World Tour.

Simon Yates of Britain won the final stage and moved up from third to second place on overall standings. Vine came in second on the stage to secure the biggest win of his career in a stage race.

The UAE Team Emirates rider took the overall tour lead when he finished second in Stage 2 and third in Stage 3. He came into the final stage with a 15-second lead on general classification.

The 70-mile stage involved four laps of a 15.5 mile-circuit through the Adelaide Hills before finishing just beyond the summit of Mount Lofty.

Yates led the crucial attack on the ascent less than 1.2 miles from the finish, but Vine jumped onto his wheel and Australian Ben O’Connor also joined in.

O’Connor led out close to the finish line, Vine briefly passed him but Yates came over the top to claim the stage win. Vine retained his overall advantage and claimed the title in his debut appearance in the Tour Down Under.

The 27-year-old made his name in e-Sports before being signed by the UAE team after winning the academy program on the Zwift online platform. He won two stages of the Vuelta a Espana last year and the Australian Time Trial title.

“It’s pretty incredible to be standing here and wearing this jersey,” Vine said. “The way we drove that was first class. My guys were incredible.”

The final stage featured a breakaway of 13 riders but Vine’s UAE teammates led the chase by the peloton and put their rider in a position to contest the win.

Yates again rode an aggressive race but had to be happy with the stage win.

“We came Down Under with a lot of ambition. We put a lot into it and we didn’t come away with the overall but we can walk away pretty happy,” Yates said. “Obviously Jay Vine is a massive talent and the crowd will be happy with a local winner.”

France’s Coquard wins Tour Down Under Stage 4; Vine leads

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ADELAIDE, Australia — French cyclist Bryan Coquard won Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under for his first-ever World Tour win, while Australia’s Jay Vine retained the overall tour lead by 15 seconds with one stage remaining.

Coquard is a lightweight sprinter who has had 49 wins in a decade-long career but had never won on the World Tour until he cleared out near the finish to claim the 82-mile stage by a margin of about just over 100 feet.

Vine was among the leading group that shared Coquard’s winning time and who retained his lead on general classification over Britain’s Simon Yates and Germany’s Phil Bauhaus. The race concludes with Stage 5, which ends atop 2,329-foot Mount Lofty.

“It’s a long time that I’ve waited for this win, 10 years,” said Coquard, who rides for the French Cofidis team. “I never really expected and I’m very happy and relieved with this win.”

While the stage was flat and suited sprinters, it had its challenges. Cross-winds and occasional gradients made the stage difficult and confounded some riders.

After an early breakaway by Jonas Rutsch and former tour winner Daryl Impey of South Africa, the peloton broke into two groups with Vine and other tour leaders among the leading group.

The leading group stayed together around the last, sharp bend towards the finish and Coquard bided his time until his late sprint left other riders flat-footed.

“It was pretty stressful,” Vine said. “There was one point there, I thought we were going to have an easy day and I was happy, smiling, waving to families on the side of the road.

“Then, 45 kilometers in it was on and it was on until the end so it was a very hard day. There was a lot more calorie expenditure than I was planning.”