After spending much of the period since winning the green jersey at the Tour de France performing on the criterium circuit, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) is turning his attention to the World Championships road race in Valkenburg on September 23.
Sagan’s last competitive outing was at the GP Ouest France-Plouay, where he failed to finish. The Slovak travels to Canada later this week to ride the GP Québec and GP Montréal, two WorldTour races which form an important part of his preparation for the Worlds.
“Races are good for getting your rhythm,” Sagan told Sporza. “I’ll go and do those two races in Canada. They could be good for preparing for the Worlds, we’ll see.”
The Worlds circuit includes the climbs of the Bemelerberg and Cauberg, which both feature on the route of the Amstel Gold Race. Sagan finished third after fading in the finishing sprint atop the Cauberg on that occasion, but he is hopeful the experience will stand to him in September, when the summit of the Cauberg comes 1.7km before the finish line.
“My preparation is still a bit off but I have experience of the climb,” Sagan said. “I’ve done Amstel Gold twice now, so I know the climb. If you’re going well there, that’s where you can make the race.”
A wide cross-section of riders will fancy their chances on such a well-balanced course, but on the evidence of the ongoing Vuelta a España, Sagan has identified two stand-out favourites – Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
“Gilbert has won a stage of the Vuelta and he could be the favourite if he manages to hold that condition,” Sagan said. “From the Vuelta Rodriguez has been impressive too. I don’t know if Contador is doing it or not.”
Thanks largely to Sagan’s haul of WorldTour points this season, Slovakia will line up with a six-man team in Valkenburg, meaning that Sagan should have significantly more support than he enjoyed at the London 2012 Olympics, when he was the country’s sole participant.
“I don’t have a lot of experience of doing a lot of races with the national team but we’ll see what happens in the race. It’s certainly better to have six men than only three,” he said.