Even though my heart lies with road cycling, one of the things I was most excited about in last summer’s Rio Olympics was Peter Sagan competing in the mountain bike event.
Sagan is a former Junior World Champion mountain bike racer, and the road cycling event was not suited to his strengths, so when the Slovakian Olympic Committee decided he was their best chance at a high placing finish in the mountain bike event, he went for it.
So what happened?
Well, after riding in the top 3 for the first lap, Sagan got a tire puncture and had to ride most of the second lap on a flat tire to get to the pit area. Unlike road cycling, in mountain bike racing, there are no team cars following riders with spare wheels and bikes. Riders have to get to a pit area for repairs requiring outside assistance, so a mechanical issue presents a huge time loss.
It was still super fun to see him race in the dirt (once I finally found what channel and time to watch it!), and there’s no question he brought wider interest and new excitement to the sport (at least for that year).
Here’s a glimpse of Sagan in the Rio dirt. Look for his orange helmet and orange bike with light blue fork, and you’ll see him riding on a flat front tire around 1:35.
(Warning: The last 30 seconds or so is all falls and crashes so if that’s disturbing to you, stop the video around 2:00.)