Peter Sagan‘s form heading into the Ponferrada World Championship road race on September 28 appears in doubt after he abandoned the Vuelta a España on Saturday. The Slovak star of team Cannondale won the green jersey at the Tour de France for a third time this year, but has been quiet since.
“It’s been quiet, but the Vuelta a España should put me in good standing for the Worlds,” Sagan said before pulling out of the Vuelta a España. “I’m just as serious as the last years.”
Since Sagan announced that he signed for Tinkoff-Saxo for 2015, he has gone winless. In comparison, last year he skipped the Vuelta a España and won four stages win the USA Pro Challenge, three in the Tour of Alberta and the GP Montreal.
At the Vuelta, Sagan nearly pulled off two stage wins, finishing fourth in stage 12 behind winner John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) and third in stage eight behind winner Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge).
Team Cannondale’s management remained optimistic. Though Sagan only counts seven wins compared to 22 in 2013, Sports Director Mario Scirea explained that Sagan was fresher than ever in the Vuelta. The team’s plan was that the Spanish grand tour, which Sagan has not raced since 2011, would drop him off perfectly for the Worlds.
Sagan dropped out of the race and ended his second consecutive grand tour without a stage win. With 17 days left, he must reach the top form that helped him win one-day races like the E3 Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem, and three green jerseys in the Tour.
The hilly course in northwest Spain, with two small climbs each lap, appears ideally suited to ‘The Saganator’. If he can withstand the attacks and the course then has the kick out-sprint most of the peloton for the rainbow jersey. At the 2013 Florence Worlds, he finished sixth on a harder circuit.
However, Germany’s Degenkolb with four stage wins in the Vuelta a España or Australia’s Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), this year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner, appear as stronger challengers and boast better squads. Sagan, who may have already raced his last race with Cannondale, will be backed by a limited Slovakian team.
The 24-year-old could surprise, which he often does, or he could return fresh for 2015 to make good on his rumoured €4m contract with Tinkoff-Saxo.