Wout van Aert has criticised Peter Sagan after the pair both missed out on the top-10 in the Tour of Flanders.
The Belgian star stuck with the race favourites and finished in the front group on Sunday (April 7), but the lacklustre chase saw victory go to Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First).
Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) vented his frustration about the lack of cooperation among the favourites, singling out Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) for the way he rode in the final.
The 24-year-old told cycling news site Wielerflits: “There are guys who want to cooperate but there are riders like Sagan who just do explosive accelerations, which kills the speed straight after.”
Van Aert, who finished 14th, added: “It was a really tough race.
“This was the best we could do.
“I didn’t have much left in the end.
“Until the Kwaremont I had the feeling I could go for more, but when Bettiol attacked I couldn’t follow him.”
Bettiol’s huge attack on the Kwaremont took him clear from the group of favourites and the Italian was strong enough to ride solo over the Paterberg and on to the line.
A chase group behind, which featured Van Aert, Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) failed to work together and let Bettiol ride clear.
Van Aert added: “I hoped and thought the peloton would split into groups much faster. That didn’t happen.
“I would have liked us to work together behind Bettiol, but it is always difficult to find good cooperation in such a large group of favourites.”
Van Aert’s consistency has been unrivalled this Classics season, as he finished third in Strade Bianche, sixth in Milan-San Remo and second in the E3 BinckBank Classic.
But he is still waiting for his first win with Jumbo-Visma, after he joined the WorldTour team at the start of March.
Next up for the former cyclocross world champion is Paris-Roubaix, followed by Amstel Gold Race.