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Peter Sagan's warning to his rival teams is that they had better pay attention to not only him, but Quick-Step Floors, or else the team will continue to dominate the classics as they did in the Tour of Flanders with Niki Terpstra.
Terpstra backed up Philippe Gilbert's victory from 2017 with a solo one of his own. In both cases, the riders benefited from Quick-Step's strength in numbers, enabling the team to attack multiple times and block when one of their riders went away.
"It's hard to race in my position in the group," Sagan said. "Also, if the other riders don't wake up, it's going to be like this."
The world champion of team Bora-Hansgrohe spoke after crossing the line in Oudenaarde sixth place. He rode to the team's bus and showered before stepping back off to see the Quick-Step bus parked next to his and the press waiting outside.
"Quick-Step is a great team because they have many riders at a good level," Peter Sagan said.
"They can play multiple cards. Quick-Step did a beautiful race. I just think that the other teams didn't respect the situation and collaborate."
Sagan won the race in 2016 after his 2015 world championship victory. In the rainbow jersey, he followed in the slipstream of Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky). He dropped Kwiatkowski on the Kwaremont and Sep Vanmarcke on the Paterberg to ride solo to Oudenaarde.
Since then, Sagan has won another two world titles to become a three-time champion. He deserves the attention and respect, but at times, it can be too much.
"It's not just me that they need to beat," Sagan said. "We are in 200. In that respect, the other teams were mistaken, I believe. Like this, Quick-Step will go and win all the races."
Sagan relied on team-mates Daniel Oss and Marcus Burghardt, above all. Oss seemed go be back to his best leading Sagan over most of the major difficult points.
The team said that they were waiting for a move in the final after Kwaremont or Paterberg and a small group sprint. In a similar way, Sagan won Ghent-Wevelgem last week.
"Team Sky? I didn't know what they wanted to do, but if you take Kwiatkowski as the leader in this race... I think that it's a little mistaken to attack after the Koppenberg [with Dylan Van Baarle]. To open the race like that is too soon against Quick-Step."
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