Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) says he is not bothered by the placings or near-misses, or the journalists remarking on when he fails to win in his rainbow jersey. The wins, like his third one in Ghent-Wevelgem, say it all.
The three-time world champion blasted ahead of the small group heading into to the small Belgian village to cap off the 2018 Ghent-Wevelgem. Doing so, he out-manoeuvred team Quick-Step Floors with four riders and topped a handful of top sprinters. It ended a run of bad-luck or podiums from Strade Bianche to E3 Harelbeke.
>> Subscribe to Cycling Weekly this Autumn and save 35%. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<
“I don’t watch these critics or read the newspapers. Why should I read it?” Sagan said.
“If you are good, you are good. If you are bad, you always have critics. It’s my life, it’s not the journalists’ life.”
Some journalists wondered about Sagan’s fitness or team after the E3 Harelbeke on Friday. He lost his key team-mates in a crash and his top helper, Daniel Oss appeared below his best. Sagan later faded on the Paterberg climb and failed to feature.
Without a big Classics win in 2017 and with the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix on the immediate horizon, pressure began to build around the Sagan camp even if the rider himself seems to be unfazed by everything.
“First, I want to say thanks to all my team-mates and to team Bora-Hansgrohe. It’s very nice to win the race like this. For sure, it’s better to win than to lose, for sure,” Sagan continued.
“I did a lot of times bad day like that in Harelbeke. After Milan-San Remo, I did a little bit of rest… It’s Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, then I rested a little bit.
“I went to Harelbeke, like not 100 per cent. I was concentrated, yes, but if you don’t feel good what can you do? It’s about your legs, not just about your head. A lot of times it happened to me in Harelbeke I was bad and in Ghent I was good.”
Sagan’s first big one-day race win came in the 2013 Ghent-Wevelgem with a solo attack. In 2016, the second victory added to a quickly growing palmarès that already included his first World Championship title and Tour de France stage victories.
To win in 2018, he had to deal with Quick-Step pulling for Elia Viviani and sprinters Arnaud Démare (FDJ), Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) and Michael Matthews (Sunweb).
“This year, it was a sprint with a, not a big group, but there were a lot of sprinters there. That’s why I’m very happy,” Sagan continued. “And every victory is different.”
Attention now turns to Sunday, the Tour of Flanders. Sagan will skip the Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday and stay at home in Monaco to train beforehand. He appears to be ready to repeat in Flanders and have a shot at his first Paris-Roubaix cobble trophy a week later, but anything can happen.
“Also last year, maybe I felt good too, but I fell on the ground [laughs]!” he said. “I’m here and I want to do my best. It’s coming and it’s OK.”