Sagan raced solo from the top cobbled Paterberg climb to Oudenaarde to claim his first monument. He did so in style, wearing the rainbow jersey and mentioning the two Belgian professionals.
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“This victory is dedicated to the two guys who died last week,” Sagan said after riding a wheelie and taking flowers on the podium. “Also my team-mate Maciej Bodnar. He had a bad crash yesterday in training and didn’t start today. I hope he comes back as early as possible.”
Demoitié (team Wanty-Groupe Gobert) died after crashing last Sunday in Ghent-Wevelgem, where Sagan won his first race since the world championships last September. Myngheer (Roubaix Lille Métropole) fell in the Critérium International one week ago on Saturday and suffered heart attack in the ambulance. Late on Monday night, he died.
Sagan also mentioned the refugee crisis, those coming from Syria and other countries to fight for a new life in Europe, after his world title win in Richmond, USA. His recent wins in Ghent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders came on the heels of the Brussels terrorist attacks last Tuesday.
“I said something in Richmond, and now here things happen. It’s a very difficult situation for everyone,” Sagan said. “What can I say, you to keep living. It’s hard for everybody.”
The 26-year-old called it the hardest of the six Flanders he raced. Before today, he placed second in 2013 behind Fabian Cancellara. Today, he attacked with Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky), dropped Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) and held of Cancellara’s chase to win.
Watch: Tinkoff sports director explains how Peter Sagan won the Tour of Flanders
“It was a strange race, I did six times Flanders, but it was never as hard as this year. The race was full-gas from start to the finish, maybe only just one 10-minute time to relax. The guys I talked to said that they felt this year was different than the years before,” Sagan explained.
“In Richmond, it was different with just three riders: me, my brother [Juraj Sagan] and Michael Kolar. Here we had all the team to help, thanks to the team for this today. Thanks to [owner] Oleg Tinkov for the team. The special thing, the last three big victories was with three Slovak guys: me, my brother and Michal Kolar. Also in Gent-Wevelgem and Richmond. Maybe that’s a special combination.”