The same early attack ruled out Sagan in the Tour of Flanders, though the video footage of him crashing with 16.9 kilometres remaining topped the headlines the morning after. The race slipped out of Sagan and Bora’s hands much earlier with Quick-Step’s charge on the Muur.
>> Save up to 31% with a magazine subscription. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<
Philippe Gilbert rode clear with Quick-Step’s attack on the Muur and Sagan never saw him again over the following 95 kilometres.
The early Paris-Roubaix attacks will be repeated “even more than in Flanders,” said coach and sports director, Patxi Vila.
“Yes, probably in Roubaix there are teams that can use their power better than we can. Like we saw in Roubaix last year, the race can start 110 kilometres from the finish.”
The winning group sped away in Paris-Roubaix last year when a crash caused a split on the Quérénaing sector.
Sagan explained in Sunday’s Tour of Flanders that a couple of crashes left him behind.
“I thought that Quick-Step would do something there, but the others crashed two times,” he said. “I was a little bit behind.”
Unlike Bora, Quick-Step can afford to send riders away early because it has so many potential winners. Gilbert, Boonen and Matteo Trentin went clear in Flanders, but behind Niki Terpstra and Zdenek Stybar marked Sagan.
Sagan may need to go early as he did in Ghent-Wevelgem and with his relatively early Poggio attack in Milan-San Remo.
“I think Peter Sagan knows that he has to attack early too, but in a race like [Flanders], as favourite, you have to use strategy, which is how you think you have more chances to win,” Vila added. “Of course, if he wanted, he could’ve followed, if that was our idea, then that could happen. But we had another idea.”
Sagan trailed by 59 seconds when he crashed with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale). It is questionable whether the trio could have captured Gilbert, but Sagan said they could have come close.
However, another Quick Step long-range attack appears likely again on Sunday in northern France. Bora is planning on how to deal with it best.
Vila added, “We have our plan and we have to avoid it.”