The Classics legend says Sagan should not complain about other teams refusing to cooperate with him, saying "he is the one who always starts to sit on"
The three-time world champion placed sixth in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. To win the race, Quick-Step Floors’s Niki Terpstra launched a solo move off the heels of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) at 26 kilometres out.
Sagan looked to rivals Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac) and Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal), but said he saw blank stares.
“The other teams didn’t respect the situation and collaborate,” Sagan explained. “It’s not just me that they need to beat.”
Boonen won Flanders three times and Paris-Roubaix, which Sagan will try to win on Sunday, four times. He shook his head on Belgian television last night when hearing Sagan’s cooperation comments.
“A lack of cooperation? He is always in the wheel,” Boonen said during Extra Time Koers on Belgian TV channel Sporza.
“I think Sagan really should not talk about a lack of cooperation. He is the one who always starts to sit on.
“He’s like the cat in the tree, sitting there and then all at once, coming forward and waving his paw [for the others to work]. Then you have to keep your mouth shut.”
Instead of working in unison, the riders took different turns attacking behind a solo Terpstra. Sagan launched on the Paterberg, the final climb, and tried to chase solo but he decided against it when it failed to make an impact.
Bora-Hansgrohe explained that they were trying to keep the race together to get Sagan to the Oudenaarde finish with a small group. From there, they felt confident he could sprint for his second win after the 2016 title.
“I like him and this does not detract from his qualities,” Boonen continued. “He is a very good rider, but you should not say such a thing if you try to ride in the wheels yourself.
“He also always tries to benefit from the work of other teams. There is nothing wrong with that, but then you do not have to complain afterwards: ‘They won’t work with me.'”
Sagan must now look ahead to the last cobbled classic of the season, Paris-Roubaix this Sunday in northern France. Despite Quick-Step Floors’s dominance and Niki Terpstra’s wins in E3 Harelbeke and Flanders, odds makers list Sagan as Sunday’s favourite.
Looking ahead, Sagan said, “It’s hard to race in my position in the group. Also, if the other riders don’t wake up, it’s going to be like this. Quick-Step will go and win all the races.”