Final Countdown: Sagan upbeat about Milan-Sanremo prospects - ‘My expectations are high’
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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Final Countdown: Sagan upbeat about Milan-Sanremo prospects - ‘My expectations are high’

by VeloNation Press at 8:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Milan-Sanremo
 
Slovakian says he has two chances to win; Moser pledges support

Peter SaganOne day before the start of a race where he is the overwhelming favourite, Peter Sagan is sounding confident and believes that in his third outing in Milan-Sanremo, that he can finally challenge for the victory.

Already a winner of five races this year, Sagan is ready for the sixth celebration. “After a good start of the season, my expectations are high. I want to race a good race, at the front. We have a good team to aim at a good result,” he said.

“The forecast could make it an even tougher race, but that will be the case for everyone. The biggest risk is that there will be over two hundred riders and it's tough to move in such a big group."

Tomorrow’s forecast is for cold and wet conditions. That will increase the danger, Sagan’s main concern, but it could also suit him physically. He thrived in similar circumstances in Tirreno-Adriatico, beating Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quick Step), Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and several more of the world’s best sprinters on stage three of the race, and then was part of the race-winning three man break on the rain-lashed penultimate stage, also hitting the line first.

Those two days were very different, in terms of the parcours that they imposed and the attributes that were needed to win. By triumphing in both cases Sagan’s confidence has grown, in terms of tomorrow’s race and the ways it might play out.

Sprinting or climbing, he appears to be in the right form.

“I feel like I have two chances to win: either a sprint from a group or by following an attack on the Poggio,” he said. “It's my third attempt here and I have learned that the Cipressa and Poggio are key to understand if you can win or not.

“I'll see for myself and not think too much about what the others can do, and I'll count on my teammates. They can help make the difference.”

One of those team-mates is Moreno Moser, the nephew of the 1984 Milan Sanremo champion Francesco Moser. Sagan recently helped him to win the Strade Bianche race, closing down all the attempts to chase him after the Italian surged clear inside the final twenty kilometres.

Now, two weeks later, Moser has a chance to repay his Cannondale team-mate. Rather than thinking of personal success, he promises that what he wants most of all is for Sagan to hit the line first.

“I am at my first Milan-San Remo. I've never raced this many kilometres. That's an important variable and I'm not sure what to expect,” he said. “What's best is if I'm able to stay in the front and hold on until after the Poggio and help Peter. He'll count on a team tactic and my biggest satisfaction on Sunday would be to see Peter win.”

Also pledging his support is the sprinter Elia Viviani, who could be hugely important for Sagan if things come down to a big gallop. Proving he’s there, he should be able to provide a strong leadout in those circumstances, or might alternatively be called upon to help Sagan get into position prior to an attack on the Poggio.

“I arrive after a different lead-in to the other years,” he explained. "A few less results but races that left me able to achieve a decent condition. Peter and Moreno have given a calmness to the team and for me what counts is to be in the front and be useful in the finale."

'Sunday, we’ll give a great show'

Team manager Roberto Amadio states that his riders are fully committed to the team winning the race, but that it can’t and won’t assume responsibility for riding at the front to ensure breaks are controlled. He wants other teams to play their part too.

“We have three strong guys with clear goals. Peter will be our leader and comes here with a great condition,” he explained. “Many are making us favourites but I think that Cannondale Pro Cycling isn't the only team that is hungry to win this race. We're ready to take our responsibility, knowing anyway that we can't control the whole three hundred kilometres. I look also to the other teams like Omega Pharma and BMC first and foremost.

“There are lots of winners ready to go, from Hushovd and Gilbert, from Cavendish to Bonnen and then Cancellara, among others. Sunday we'll give a great show to the sport of cycling.”

As for Sagan, he’s still only 23 years of age and so has time on his side .He wants to win this year, but doesn’t have to; he will have many more chances in the seasons ahead, and that gives him a certain balance in his approach.

“Every year I expect to grow,” he said. “For this, we'll look to have a good showing. I don't feel pressured to be the number one favourite. I feel good, I have a competitive team, so I can't ask for more to face this race calmly.”

Even if he’s the one who has shown the best form in recent weeks, he feels that it’s up to the others to also race in a positive way, rather than just sitting on his wheel. “t's said that they will race against me, but I don't think that there are riders ready to lose instead of trying to win,” he insisted.

“I know that tactics count a lot in a race like 'San Remo' but I don't want to think too much about them. There are too many variables. You think of one type of race, but the reality turns out to be the opposite.”

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