GENT, Belgium (VN) — Peter Sagan closed his classics campaign on a high at Paris-Roubaix but said he “needs to improve” for the coming years.
“I finished the first part of my season with a positive signal,” Sagan said. “Not all the races finished as I expected, but anyway it was a good experience.”
Sagan placed sixth in Roubaix after a late attack failed. The 24-year-old rode off the banks of the Roubaix velodrome with his face and green Cannondale kit covered with dirt. He stopped, kissed his girlfriend, and looked ahead.
“I’m satisfied for my place, even if didn’t win or get on the podium,” he said. “Given what I accomplished today, after a long campaign in the North, I’m fine. Now I know I can be competitive in race like this. I know I can improve.”
Sagan will turn his focus now from his classics campaign to his contract negotiations. Fernando Alonso is reportedly willing to pay €3.3m a year for the Slovak champion, but Cannondale only wants to pay between €2m and 2.5m.
Whether Sagan races for Italy’s green team or the two-time Formula One driver, he needs to improve before he lands a victory in one of cycling’s five monuments.
“He needs to improve his tactics in the key moments of these races. These are things that you understand with the passing years by making mistakes,” Cannondale manager Roberto Amadio told VeloNews. “When it all comes easily — which it seems it did in the last four years — everything seems normal. That moment that it doesn’t come easily, you have to rely on experience and on maturity. You have to use your smarts, when to stay on the wheel instead of attacking.”
After a disappointing 16th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) last week, Sagan took on different tactics at Roubaix. He attacked on Sunday to anticipate rivals like Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), who left him on the road late in De Ronde. He went with 36 kilometers to race and received little help from Maarten Wynants (Belkin), who followed.
Sagan bridged to Tom Boonen’s (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) group ahead, but at that time, the chasers were breathing down his neck. The effort took its toll and cost him energy he could have used to sprint in the velodrome.
“You need to be mature. You need physical and above all, mental strength,” Amadio continued. “Cancellara showed that. He won Flanders last week more on experience than legs. He was not Cancellara from the past, who was a level above the others. With his experience, though, he was able to rise above.
“Cancellara is 33 years old, though, and he already has that experience. Peter has to keep on insisting and believing that he can win these classics.”
Talking Sunday, Amadio reflected on his star rider’s results in the 2014 classics campaign. Last year, Sagan aimed for Milano-Sanremo and the Ronde van Vlaanderen, before backing off to race the hilly Ardennes classics. This year, he raced straight through Roubaix and will skip the Ardennes. Sagan succeeded this spring, but not in the monuments.
“It doesn’t change anything if he failed to win a monument. It’s not a drama,” Amadio said. “It’s been a positive campaign in the north. We’ll review it and try to improve.”
Peter Sagan’s 2013-14 classics results:
Milano-Sanremo: 2, 10
E3 Harelbeke: 2, 1
Gent-Wevelgem: 1, 3
Three Days of De Panne: 1 stage win, 1 stage win
Ronde van Vlaanderen: 2, 16
Scheldeprijs: -, 70
Paris-Roubaix: -, 6