Peter Sagan faces a difficult mountain bike qualification path to Paris 2024 ©Getty Images

Three-time world road race champion Peter Sagan has admitted it will be hard to qualify for his planned Paris 2024 swansong in mountain biking.

Sagan has described mountain bike as his "real passion" and competed in the sport for Slovakia at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

This season will be his last on the International Cycling Union (UCI) road World Tour and he then plans to bow out in mountain bike in Paris.

However, the qualification system is tricky with eight National Olympic Committees (NOCs) set to qualify two athletes through the UCI Olympic rankings.

These will be decided by adding together the points of the three highest-ranked athletes from each NOC, with those ranked between ninth and 19th earning one rider.

The two highest-ranked NOCs at the 2023 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Glasgow in August, which have not already qualified through the UCI rankings, will also gain a cyclist.

"I really wanted to turn back to mountain bike because it's a different world," Sagan, who won the world road race title three times in a row between 2015 and 2017, said to Eurosport.

"It's a very nice atmosphere, when you're going for mountain bike races and you're in a mountain bike village with downhill riders, with motocross country riders, with another group of people. 

Peter Sagan has won the world road race title three times ©Getty Images
Peter Sagan has won the world road race title three times ©Getty Images

"It's very beautiful. 

"It's a totally different atmosphere than professional cycling on the road.

"That is why this idea started to turn back to mountain biking. 

"You need to set some goals. 

"For the Olympic Games, it's a very difficult thing, but because Slovakia has no rider, I first have to qualify and maybe I can then go for the Games in Paris.

"This year, we have the Tour de France, two weeks later, we have the World Championships on the road. 

"One week later, we have mountain bikes in the same place because all the World Championships races this year are in the same place in Glasgow. 

"Then I should be there and I should be the first rider from the countries that are not qualified for the Olympic Games."

Sagan missed the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, held in 2021, after surgery to treat an infection in his right knee.