OUDENAARDE, Belgium (VN) — Peter Sagan (Cannondale) saw his chance of winning a monument, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, ride away from him on Sunday. The Slovak escaped with Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard), but was unable to follow his rival’s surge up the final Paterberg climb.
“It went well today, it was just that Fabian was so strong,” Sagan told VeloNews. “He dropped me on the last climb, I couldn’t stay with him any longer, so I’m happy with second.”
Sagan spoke after a long day that started at 10 a.m. in Bruges. After eight hours, 260 kilometers, he sat in an organizer’s car and waited to return to the team’s Belgian base in Kortrijk.
His cobbled campaign ended, Sagan heads home for a small break after riding strongly in E3 Harelbeke and winning Gent-Wevelgem and a stage in Driedaagse van De Panne.
Rightly so, he appeared tired. However, he was satisfied to have had ridden away in the race-winning move and held on for second place.
The Kwaremont kick
Cancellara kicked it into high gear going up the Kwaremont climb with 17km to race. He used the climb to ride Sagan off his wheel and win a week ago in E3 Harelbeke.
Over the flat cobbled section at top, Sagan pushed himself and held on this time. No one else was able to follow. The duo bridged to Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol), who fell behind on the Paterberg.
Sagan saw Cancellara fly free near the top of the Paterberg. He chased solo, then sat up and fought with Roelandts to take second place.
“I’m happy it worked out. It was difficult to get second place,” Sagan said.
“If the group caught us I don’t know if I would’ve been able to do the sprint for second, so for that reason I’m happy to be able to come away with second. I was already at my maximum.”
Sagan said that he was also satisfied with second because he gained more experience. He is only 23, while Cancellara is 32 and has ridden Ronde many times more than Sagan.
In his first participation in 2011, Sagan abandoned. Last year, he placed fifth. It would seem that he is headed in the right direction.
“Every year I come back I’m stronger and I have a better result,” Sagan said.
“Fabian’s done this race something like 11 times, I’ve done it three times. The first time I didn’t even finish, the second time fifth and this year second.”
Packing the bags
Sagan will pack his bags after nearly two weeks in the Hotel Kennedy in Kortrijk. He races Brabantse Pijl in a week and a half and the Amstel Gold Race in two weeks. Afterward, his one-day race campaign finishes and he heads to the Tour of California.
If he had won Flanders, Sagan said that he might have even considered trying Paris-Roubaix again. He placed second as a junior and 86th in 2011.
“I wanted to try Roubaix, but I think now it’s better that I do Amstel Gold and maybe Flèche, where if I’m going well then I can also try for the win. In Roubaix, it’d be hard for me at this point.”
A monument win, therefore, will need to wait until 2014. But judging by his performances this year, it is in the cards.