Peter Sagan's season start pushed back, still suffering from stomach problems
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Peter Sagan's season start pushed back, still suffering from stomach problems

by Jered Gruber at 7:22 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Slovakian star's stomach woes remain a mystery

Peter Sagan's incredible neo-pro season began with two top placings at last year's Tour Down Under. The 20 year old Slovak talent netted a 3rd place in Stage 3 and a 4th place on the ProTour race's Queen Stage to Willunga. His two top five finishes at the year's first ProTour race didn't garner too much attention, but they served as a warning of what was to come - two stage wins and the points jersey at Paris-Nice to be exact...and from there, the wins and top finishes just kept on coming.

2011 will hopefully be at least as successful for the young rider, but it won't start in the same way. Sagan will not make the trip to Australia for the Tour Down Under in January.

The announcement was made over the Twitter feed, PeterSaganNews: "Peter Sagan to skip Tour Down Under. His season will start in February."

Moments later, a more intriguing posting followed.

"Sagan in dispute with Liquigas doctors: 'They think they have all the wisdom in the world. They try to change my eating habits by prescribing food my body does not respond well to.'"

The post continues, explaining a little bit more about the dropoff in his performance over the latter months of the season.

"Sagan is still on antibiotics recovering from stomach problems that plagued the second half of his season."

It wasn't widely reported on, but a scan down the older posts on his Twitter feed reveals a lot in terms of the extent of his stomach problems.

The 20 year old went to Australia this fall as an outside shot at surprising the world's best in Geelong. His fast finish and ability to get over a hilly course seemed perfect for the course, but his stomach let him down. The tweet on PeterSaganNews afterwards, read: "Sagan pulled from the race four laps to the finish due to stomach spasms. 'It pisses me off terribly. I'm so angry, it's beyond description.'"

Three minutes later, a further explanation followed: "Stomach spasms have been Sagan's frequent problem since easy summer. He originally suspected plane food and jet lags as main culprits."

It was unsurprising when that was followed with Sagan's words: "I need to undergo a thorough medical screening in Europe [to find out the problem]."

The health check was performed on October 9th, just days before the Giro di Lombardia. Two days before the event, the young, tired, sick rider called his start into question.

"I believe I will not [be there]. I think [Liquigas] should finally realize I need to recuperate."

Unfortunately for Sagan, his request was turned down and a start in the year's final Monument was ordered. It lasted a fair bit of time, but ended just as the finale was beginning, with 60 kilometers remaining.

"It made no sense to continue pedaling," sighed the winner of two stages of the Tour of California in May.

Six days later, the results of Sagan's health checkup were in and showed nothing.

"I am confused. I was told the stress might be the factor. I am happy, but still concerned."

Last year's breakout success story looks to be in a difficult position at the moment. His mysterious stomach ailment appears to be compounded by a Liquigas team that, at least in his opinion, is not helping him - whether it be giving him rest when it's needed or finding a better way to communicate and convince him of possible avenues of solution for his stomach problems.

The team cannot be faulted too heavily for trying to get the most out of the prodigy, whether it be trying to coax one more race out of him or pursuing possible solutions for his health problems. With that said, the team stands to lose a great deal if they push their star young rider too much. At only 20 years old, it doesn't seem too difficult to alienate the rider in such a way as to push him in a new direction when his next contract comes up.



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