Peter Sagan: “Last year I was third and I remember being left with a bitter taste in my mouth”
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Friday, April 12, 2013

Peter Sagan: “Last year I was third and I remember being left with a bitter taste in my mouth”

by Ben Atkins at 3:07 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Amstel Gold Race
 
Slovakian champion confident ahead of Amstel Gold Race after Brabantse Pijl victory

peter saganPeter Sagan (Cannondale) was always going to start Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race as one of the riders to watch following his third place in last year’s edition, but his Brabantse Pijl victory on Wednesday has made him even more of a hot favourite for victory. The Slovakian champion has proved adept at both cobbled and hilly Classics so far this season, with a victory in Gent-Wevelgem and a second place in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, along with his second place in Milano-Sanremo.

He has yet to take a win in a Classic distance race of more than 250km, however, but such a victory surely cannot be far off for the 23-year-old.

“I always said that be one of the leaders in the classic season was the first, big goal of my season,” said Sagan. “The results I achieved so far are really good and I could think the target is reached. But I don’t want to settle and the Amstel Gold Race is an important race I would like to add. It’s long, hard and you are not allowed to be distracted at any time.

“Last year I was third and I remember being left with a bitter taste in my mouth,” he added. “Then I realised that result, in such a hard race, was something important. I understood that the Amstel Gold Race was a classic suited for me; this will be the starting point of my performance on Sunday to try to win.”

Sagan managed to overcome the numerical superiority of the BMC Racing Team to take his Brabantse Pijl victory on Wednesday, as he was forced to singlehandedly chase down Greg Van Avermaet and still had enough to beat Philippe Gilbert in the sprint. The World champion is a two-time winner at Amstel Gold, however, and Sagan knows that he will come up against him again on Sunday.

“The victory in Brabante on Wednesday was a boost of confidence,” he said. “I raced first of all to understand the level of my form. It was useful also to see the other contenders in action; Gilbert above all. He was strong and his form is growing, like Rodriguez, Valverde and Gerrans, who will be some of the strongest riders. But I expect also many others to be in the mix.

“I think the competition will be a key factor during the race, especially in the final phases. Compared to the cobbled classics, the Amstel is a more open race. And we have to consider also the changes of the route from 2012. The final circuit, the same of the 2012 World Champs, is easier and more advantageous for someone who wants to attack. The management of the race during the last 30km will be fundamental as well as team’s support. I know I can count on strong and motivated teammates. Then we’ll also see how other teams will conduct their race. It will be a really tactical finale and any hesitation could be fatal.”

Sagan himself is trying to remain relaxed as he prepares for Sunday’s race, where he hopes to go one better than the second places he picked up in the other two Classics of his season so far.

“As usual I don’t want to spend much energy in imagining what could happen. I prefer to relax to be ready for Sunday. I know it will be a hard race with strong contenders; it’s enough to push me to race at hundred percent of my strength.”

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