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With more experience and a beefed-up team, Sagan is fueled for 2014

MILAN (VN) — Experience will give Peter Sagan an additional edge next year, according to his team Cannondale. It is a scary, thought since already this year he placed second in two of cycling’s biggest one-day races and won the Tour de France’s green jersey.

“He’s got more experience now,” Cannondale general manager Roberto Amadio told VeloNews. “He’s not going to make the same mistakes that, for example, he made in Milano-Sanremo.”

The Slovak appeared ready to snap up his first monument this year in a snow-ravaged Milano-Sanremo. He jumped all the hurdles and came away from the Poggio’s descent in a group of six. He rode perfectly but ultimately came up short to Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka).

“I threw it away,” Sagan told VeloNews at the time. “I’m upset.”

He again finished second at Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), another of cycling’s five monuments. This time, though, Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) used experience and brute force to ride clear of his 23-year-old rival. Sagan was clearly the best of the rest.

“Every year I come back I’m stronger,” Sagan explained. “Fabian’s done this race around 11 times, I’m still young and learning.”

These experiences, according to Amadio, are going to pay off.

“There’s not much of a difference from second to first place,” Amadio said. “He can win those classics, he just needs to have the condition, the team, and luck. He’s got the team and his condition should be fine next spring, so he just needs some luck.

“He’s not going to make the same error in Sanremo again. Another year’s experience is going to make a difference. He learns from certain errors and picks up on the tactics, another year will only be to his advantage.”

2014 team

Amadio flew to New York last week to meet with sponsor representatives. He secured all 27 riders for 2014 and Sagan’s defense department. American Ted King remains in Cannondale’s green kit, along with Fabio Sabatini, Alan Marangoni, and Kristjan Koren. And there are new names, too.

“We’ve strengthened the group around Sagan,” Amadio continued. “We hired Oscar Gatto (from Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) and Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM), two important elements for Peter in the classics.”

Sagan already won 22 times in 2013, including Ghent-Wevelgem and the Tour’s green jersey. With experience and reinforcements, a monument win appears just around the corner.

The new Milano-Sanremo parcours, with the Pompeiana climb ahead of the Poggio, may swing the Italian race in Sagan’s favor. “It will almost be to his advantage rather than a disadvantage given that he’s shown in Tirreno-Adriatico and in the Tour that he can overcome certain climbs,” Amadio said.

Amadio hopes the monument comes soon. In 2015, Sagan could ride in different colors as his contract is expiring.

“We will face that when it’s time. I’m just thinking about 2014 now,” he said. “We’ll make our offer, the other teams will make their offers and he’s going to have to decide.”