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Peter Sagan learned much from the 2013 worlds, and has time to apply it

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — As he did in the classics, Peter Sagan (Slovakia) took away valuable experience from the world championships. And one day, he will use it to win.

“I had bad luck,” Sagan told VeloNews. “I’m satisfied with sixth place. It’s another experience that I can use in the future.”

Stefano Zanatta, sports director at Cannondale, thinks Sagan could win on a worlds course like this one, someday.

“Just like this year in the classics, when he was on the podium in five times, this experience is going to pay off,” he said. “He’s going to get a big one. He can only get better.”

Fans surrounded Sagan and screamed his name after he stepped off the team bus and rode to the anti-doping control. During the race, however, he was isolated. A crash held him up in the first of 10 circuits. Then, as the group started to climb to Fiesole for the second time, he had to stop in the team pits to change bikes. At the same time, the Italians began ramping up the pace.

“I was just unlucky to have crashed in the first lap. I roughed up my left side and had trouble re-entering afterwards,” Sagan said. “The Italians were going strong in the first two laps, they broke up the group. I was lucky to have re-entered.”

Sagan won two similar rain-soaked stages in Tirreno-Adriatico this year. He had success in the classics — first in Gent-Wevelgem, and runner-up in Milano-Sanremo and Ronde van Vlaanderen. He won the Tour de France’s green jersey. And even after the crash, and after the front group escaped, he sprinted for sixth ahead of Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) and Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland). One wonders what could have happened if he had not wasted that extra bit of energy in the crash and chase.

“I raced the whole race on the wheels of the others, the race that the other nations were making. Had everything gone fine, it wouldn’t have been a problem, but with that one hiccup. …” Sagan said.

“I’d crashed, and then re-entering I used up too much energy. After 270 kilometers, you feel it all. Okay, Nibali also crashed, but I’m not a climber like him and [Joaquim] Rodríguez. It turned out to be a very hard race.”

Added Zanatta: “The guys up the road were stage racers. You see that Gilbert and Cancellara also couldn’t follow. He’s upset about the crash, you don’t need that when you have 100 kilometers left. It’s hard. He was on his own without a radio for advice and without teammates. It becomes hard on your head.”

The experience will pay off. Sagan took it all in. He will be able to apply it in the classics and in Ponferrada, Spain, host of the 2014 worlds.

“He’s still only 23 years old. It’s the first time he was racing the worlds at this high level,” Zanatta said. “He can come back and win with just a little bit more time and experience.”