Stephen Roche doesn’t believe it is time to write off Peter Sagan just yet, despite the Slovak’s winless start to the season, but doesn’t expect him to win many bunch sprints this year.
Writing in his skysports.com blog, the Irishman says Sagan can’t match the likes of Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel or Alexander Kristoff - who won three stages at the Tour of Qatar - in terms of pure speed.
But the 1987 world champion also cites Sagan’s lack of lead-out as an issue for the three-time Tour de France green jersey winner, with his team more focussed on GC success.
He wrote: “In the sprints he is fighting a losing battle because he has not got the fast finish to match the likes of Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel or Kristoff, and equally, he hasn’t had the team to give him any sort of lead-out.
“He didn’t have that at Cannondale and given that Tinkoff-Saxo are so focused on general classification, you would think he won’t have much of one there either. Not one to match Etixx - Quick-Step or Giant-Alpecin anyway.
Seven wins in 2014 constituted somewhat of a disappointing season for Sagan coming off the back of a 21-win season the year before.
And while Sagan’s rivals are making it hard for him to win races, Roche insists the Slovak is yet to fulfil his massive potential.
“One thing I am not doing is writing him off. Yes, he has plateaued in the past year. Yes, rival teams and riders have made life difficult for him and he is still looking for a way around that. But we should not forget that he is still only 25 years old and is far from past his best.
“I expect him to start winning regularly and once again fulfil the immense, almost incomparable potential he showed as a 20-year-old.”
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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.
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