Peter Sagan officially began his 2013 season in Los Angeles last Sunday when presented with his Cannondale team-mates. With a busy travel schedule – Australia, Los Angeles and next Argentina – his eyes are on the classics and another Tour de France green jersey.
“Milan-San Remo, Flanders and the green jersey,” Sagan told a group of journalists of his wishes for 2013.
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Sagan starts his season at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina in January. Team Cannondale, last year Liquigas-Cannondale, confirmed his major appointments: Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, Ghent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold, Tour of California, Tour of Switzerland, Tour of France and Colorado.
On his mind is winning one of the monuments, a big one-day classic. This spring offers him Milan-San Remo and Flanders.
“The first goal is San Remo, the first of the classics,” Sagan explained.
“Flanders? Last year, I wouldn’t say I was close to winning, but I was not far off. I hope to try to do well there, I want to try to win a grand classic like that one.”
There is every reason to believe the 22-year-old from Slovakia will win one of the classics given his run over the last three years. He shot off like a rocket in 2010 and has since won stages in nearly every major stage race.
Last spring, he scored a string of top five places in the classics: fourth in San Remo, second in Ghent-Wevelgem, fifth in Flanders and third in Amstel Gold.
“I’m close all the time,” Sagan said after Amstel Gold last year. “We have to work to get a win in one of these big classics. I’m still very young, so what I need is more experience to win one of these.”
Cycling Weekly spoke with the team’s trainer, Paolo Slongo over the winter about Sagan. The Italian worked with Vincenzo Nibali over the years and helped him to third behind Brad Wiggins (Sky) last year at the Tour de France. He agreed with Sagan, time is needed.
“He can do anything in the big classics,” Slongo said. “He just needs time to grow, to mature. We don’t want to smother him at this point.”
Erik Zabel won four editions of San Remo to set alongside his six green jerseys from the Tour de France. Sagan is starting down a similar path. Last year, he won three stages in his Tour debut and the green points jersey.
Sagan said on Sunday, besides the classics, his goal is to return to win the green jersey again.
“For sure, I want to take the green jersey again,” Sagan continued. “They say winning it again will be harder than the first time.”
Slongo and Cannondale’s top brass believe their star could develop into a classification rider and perhaps challenge for the Tour’s overall victory. For now, Moreno Moser will lead the team with Sagan going for stages and the green jersey.
Ivan Basso, twice winner of the Giro d’Italia, will again focus on his home race. He will also race the Vuelta a España in August.
Sagan may or may not re-focus on the World Championships in Florence after the Tour.
He said in an earlier interview, “I’ll have to pass this year, the circuit it too hard for me.” However, he may be motivated to continue if he wins a monument or a second green jersey. For now, he is off to Argentina.