Peter Sagan (Cannondale) said that he must keep calm to meet his 2014 objectives. He finished one step behind in major one-day races Milan-San Remo and Tour of Flanders last year. This year, he paces himself in order to win.
“I’ve learnt to keep calm,” Sagan told Cycling Weekly. “I’ve got to keep calm for the entire season. For example, everyone already expects something from me in San Luis right away.”
With his longer, more punk-rock looking hair, the 23-year-old sat beside his Cannondale team ahead of the presentation last night. He starts his season with the Tour de San Luis today in the middle of a hot Argentina. Sagan closed last year with the most number of wins, 22, two more than Mark Cavendish won (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
He said that he wants to “keep calm” or save himself for the Monuments and a third green jersey at the Tour de France. Last year, he was just off the mark in the classics: Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) surprised him in Milano-San Remo and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) left him on Paterberg climb in Flanders.
Sagan adjusted by starting his build up slightly later than last year. He said that is due to a lack energy at key points and a long 2013 season.
“2013 was long, I only finished with the World Championships,” Sagan continued. “I’m slightly behind compared to last year partly because I want to arrive in condition a little later. Maybe in Flanders and on to Amstel last year I was already heading down. This year, though, I want have condition though Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.”
Peter Sagan (left) at the 2014 Cannondale team launch
Sagan raced Paris-Roubaix in his neo-pro year, in 2010, but stopped early. In 2011, he placed 86th. As an 18-year-old junior, he nearly won from a solo 80-kilometre escape. Great Britain’s Andrew Fenn caught and passed him in the last kilometre, just before entering Roubaix’s velodrome.
“I don’t know if I can win it. I just want to try it another time,” continued Sagan. “The first two years, I had bad luck and I was young. After trying the Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne, I want to return to Roubaix.”
According to both the Italian team’s management and Sagan, experience is needed to handle the bigger races. Part of that will come with age and part will come with knowing the courses.
Sagan plans to reconnoitre the key sections of Flanders and Roubaix when the team is based in Kortrijk in late March. He already previewed the new Pompeiana climb that the Milan-San Remo organisers added between the Cipressa and Poggio climbs.
“It’s pretty tough. I’ll have to see how the race goes this year but I think it’s going to be a good race for the climbers like Vincenzo Nibali. You will have to train to make that effort, from Cipressa to the Poggio, and to the finish, but that training also serves for all of the classics, not only San Remo.”
Experience, he said, will make a difference in the monuments. “Also condition,” he added. “And how the race goes. The races can develop in many different ways and you have to be ready for it.”