MILAN, Italy (VN) — Peter Sagan arrived in the Netherlands ahead of the world championships slightly off his best. In fact, his trainer says the 22-year-old Slovak enjoyed his best already — at the Tour de France, where he won three stages and the green jersey.
“The Tour was the big goal because it was an international stage (for our sponsors), and that’s where we put his focus,” Paolo Slongo told VeloNews today. “He’s starting as a danger-man in the worlds, but he hasn’t been preparing to be in top form.”
Since the Tour ended in Paris, Sagan has been everywhere. He participated in post-Tour criteriums and raced in Hamburg, Plouay, Québec and Montreal. When he could find the time, he rested at home in Žilina.
Sagan traveled early to worlds to help Liquigas-Cannondale in the team time trial on Sunday. When he arrived at Valerio Piva’s hotel in Riemst, Belgium, Slongo said, he was nearly 1.5 kilograms over his ideal weight.
“Our goal is try to help the youngsters grow. We don’t want to smother them, though. Since Milano-San Remo, he has been racing seriously, from San Remo through the Tour,” Slongo added.
“We have not put much pressure on him and been on top of him. You can tell from his training, he’s more relaxed. It’s important at his age. He did three and a half months at high level, and so we let him rest.”
Sagan performed at a high level through the classics and leading into the Tour. He won five stages in the Amgen Tour of California and four in the Tour de Suisse, and took the points jerseys in both events. In the Amstel Gold, which finishes up the same Cauberg climb the worlds will use, he placed third.
He was able to rely on Liquigas through the year, but in the worlds road race he will have to depend on other teams. Thanks to his points, Slovakia received six spots, which include brother Juraj and Martin and Peter Velits. If there is a breakaway, though, Sagan is likely to look to the big nations, Spain and Belgium, to do the legwork.
“He’s got to stay with the bigs and wait until the last lap,” Slongo said. “The Cauberg will make the difference and weed out the others. Any difference can be made after the top on the flat section.”
Instead of finishing on the climb as Amstel Gold does, the race ends 1.5km later. Sagan could use his sprint from a small group if he remains with his rivals.
“He’s not 100 percent, but you have to worry about him,” added Slongo. “For sure, the others won’t be calm heading to the line with him by their side.”