Peter Sagan believes he still has room to improve and get better, despite a strong showing on the opening weekend of cobbled Classics that saw him take his first win of 2017 at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the day after finishing second at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
The world champion lay down a gauntlet in Belgium to his rivals of his form going into the Classics campaign, as he looks to add more Monuments to his victory in the Tour of Flanders last year.
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Despite spending the majority of the crucial periods of both races without any of his Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates, it was the 27-year-old who instigated key attacks that reduced the riders down to decide both race wins.
At Omloop he pushed hard after the Taaienberg climb taking Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac) with him, while in Kuurne it was Sagan’s counter attack with 25km to go that formed the five-rider group that sprinted for the victory.
“If I feel better and I can win, it will be better. I hope with this race and now the period of hard races [coming] I can improve my condition.”
Watch: Cobbled Classics essential guide
The Slovak had been in typically quirky form all weekend, going into an interview Sporza television post-Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and lowering the chair so he could only just see over the desk, while after Kuurne he admitted he hadn’t realised Omloop was now a WorldTour level race until after it was over.
“I didn’t know that, I thought that I am racing in a normal race,” Sagan said. “Yesterday I didn’t know it was WorldTour because last year it was not.
He admitted he had learnt from his performances at these two races last season – where he also finished second to Van Avermaet in Omloop and seventh in Kuurne – which helped him secure the win ahead of Trek-Segafredo’s Jasper Stuyven and Luke Rowe on Sunday.
“Last year I did different kinds of races,” he continued. “Yesterday was the same [as 2016] and in [Kuurne last year] I was racing like crazy and I just switched off before the finish. This year I was just like ‘I want to finish this race’. Maybe that is the difference – I stayed more calm, relaxed and you see everything has come along.”
Yet Sagan refused to take much away from the races about the form of his main rivals, with six weeks to go until Paris-Roubaix and plenty of races still to contest in between.
“For sure they are good, you cannot tell now how they will be in one month. A lot of things can happen, we have a lot of races,” he said.
“It’s not 100 per cent that everybody keeps the same condition, it’s not 100 per cent because we are doing another race somebody can get injured. It’s not about that we have to continue to race and every race is different and one day you can feel good and one day bad.”