Sagan takes confidence from Flanders runner-up slot: ‘I can win the Ronde’
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Monday, April 1, 2013

Sagan takes confidence from Flanders runner-up slot: ‘I can win the Ronde’

by Shane Stokes at 6:13 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders
Amstel Gold Race is his next target; Slovakian plays down rivalry with Cancellara

Peter SaganAlthough he was unable to cope when Fabian Cancellara turned on the jets on the final climb, the Paterberg, and zoomed clear to a solo win, Peter Sagan has taken an upbeat response to yesterday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen. The Cannondale Pro Cycling rider outsprinted Jurgen Roelandts for second place and that, plus the manner of his riding in the race, gives him confidence that he will be a future winner of the race.

“Today’s second place is a great result,” he said after the finale. “I didn’t suffer any problems and I was able to do my best to stay in the front of the race. Cancellara was simply the strongest today. I couldn’t do more than this.

“I have understood I can win the ‘Ronde’. I’m 23 years old, with many years in front of me to take it.”

Indeed Sagan’s youth is of great reassurance to his team, given that he can be expected to continue to improve for several years yet. His performance yesterday, his runner-up slot in Milan Sanremo and the many wins he has already clocked up point to a very big future, and so he can afford to be patient.

“The race was hard for the entire day. At 140 km to go I had a crash. I was eating, suddenly riders in front of me touched their brakes and I lost control of the handlebars,” he said, talking about how the day unfolded. “Nothing particular, just a loss of time.

“In the final part of the race I controlled Cancellara, then when he attacked I thought about maintaining the advantage with Roelandts ahead of the bunch. Honestly, I don’t know if I had enough power for a good sprint.”

Cancellara will now focus his attention on Paris-Roubaix and on the chance to repeat the double he took in 2010, when he won both great northern Classics. Sagan looks set to sit out that race, but must be considered a realistic contender for the subsequent Amstel Gold Race, where he was third last year.

He’s got the power to ride strongly on the Cauberg in the finale and, with this year’s finish taking place on flatter roads after the summit, his strong finishing sprint marks him out as perhaps the biggest favourite.

He also said that he might continue his Classics campaign for one more event after that one.

“Now I’ll face the Amstel Gold Race and I am also thinking about the Fleche Wallonne,” he confirmed. “If my condition is good, I could race it. I’ll decide with the team after the next race.”

What’s clear is that his path diverges for a while from that of Cancellara, who he also came up against in earlier races. There has been talk of friction between the two of them, although that wasn’t evident on the podium yesterday.

Cancellara has said that Sagan’s victory celebrations irk him, believing that they come across as a lack of respect for his fellow competitors, but the younger rider plays down the notion that there are any serious issues.

“The rivalry between me and Fabian? It’s only about sport. The media maybe make it bigger than it really is,” he insisted. “Out of the race there are no problems between us, but when we have to challenge for a win I think it’s normal be competitors. It’s only a show for cycling.”


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