After winning winning the points classification of the Tour de France for a record seven times, in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019, Super Slovak Peter Sagan has won the points classification at the 2021 Giro d’Italia, on only his second participation on the Italian Grand Tour.
The former three-times world champion won one stage in the process, sprinting to victory on stage 10 to claim his third win of the season, which lifted the “Tourminator” up to 21st place in the all-time list of Grand Tour stage winners.
The three greatest races of the Grand Tour comprise the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France, and the Vuelta a Espana and together, they represent the ultimate test of a cyclist. To win stages in all these races requires the stamina to take on the climbs, the speed on the flat sections, and the tactical skill to outmanoeuvre opponents.
Peter honed these skills back in his hometown of Žilina. He believes that it was the outdoor childhood he enjoyed in the mountainous region of Slovakia that made him the winner he is today. With his friends, Peter loved getting out into the local hills, climbing trees, swimming in lakes, and getting a taste for taking risks. He also started entering cycling competitions and even though he didn’t have all the right equipment, he still managed to win – on a bike he borrowed from his sister!
Soon, Peter joined a local cycling team and, encouraged by his father who drove him all over Europe, he attended many international races. By the age of 19, Peter had turned professional and was cycling for an Italian team. The medical team there were amazed at his physical strength and stamina. His ability to burst through the pack and sprint for the finishing line earned him the respect of his team mates.
Peter Sagan is not like other cyclists. He’s a hard-working athlete and a great champion but he is also an entertainer and a joker who doesn’t take himself too seriously. Fans love it when Peter storms to the front in the big races and they are thrilled when he pulls stunts like riding over the finishing line on one wheel. He’s always got time for a joke with his supporters and even signs autographs for them while he’s racing.p
Peter conquered the world of cycling, but he has never forgotten his Slovak roots. He is proud to come from such a beautiful homeland and to wear the national colours in international races. He wanted to give something back to Slovakia so, through the Peter Sagan Academy in Žilina, he has encouraged children to take up cycling and become the next generation of Super Slovaks.
The bilingual book Super Slovaks presents other famous Slovaks from Svätopluk to Petra Vlhová and each beautifully illustrated biography combines to tell the history of Slovakia. It has been written by a team of Slovak and international historians and will be enjoyed by expats interested in learning about Slovak history, as well as younger readers who can enjoy it independently, or with parents.
The book is also proving popular with Slovaks abroad who want to share their culture with younger family members. The bilingual text means that it can also be a language learning tool. The thought-provoking questions after each biography encourage active engagement with the characters and will be sure to prompt discussion.
By David Keys, Zuzana Palovic and Gabriela Bereghazyova
Art work by Masha Dambaeva
Co-founded by authors Zuzana Palovic and Gabriela Bereghazyova, Global Slovakia is a Bratislava-based not-for-profit organization that seeks to promote Slovakia on the global stage and foster a constructive discussion about the country’s past history, current events and future perspectives. You can also follow them on Facebook!
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