Sagan avoids Scheldeprijs crash, confident for Paris-Roubaix start

World champion salutes Tom Boonen in his final Belgian race

Peter Sagan struggled to descend the steps of the podium at the start of Scheldeprijs on Wednesday, but shrugged off doubts about his riding Paris-Roubaix. He lamented the pain in his hip and ribs but wanted to ride Scheldeprijs to honour Tom Boonen's final race in Belgium in Boonen's hometown of Mol.

The world champion made it through most of the 202km race, but after avoiding a crash with 4km to go and then spearheading the Bora-Hansgrohe lead-out, he pulled off the front of the peloton and quit the race before crossing the line.

"I'm happy the day ended safely, avoiding any incidents during the race. I don't feel very well at the moment and hope my form gets better for Paris-Roubaix," Sagan said after the race.

Sagan planned before the race to use it to test how he felt at race pace after his high-speed crash at Sunday's Tour of Flanders that occurred as he tried to chase after eventual winner Philippe Gilbert on the Oude Kwaremont.

Before the race, Sagan said he was hoping that the steady pace for much of the 202km Scheldeprijs race would help his body get back to full efficiency.

"I'm here to see how I feel and how I ride on the bike. I have some pain in my hip and in this part," Sagan told Cyclingnews, indicating his right ribs.

"I hope I'll be okay for Paris-Roubaix. I should be. I'm not concerned."

Sagan and his Bora-Hansgrohe teammates will do a final reconnaissance ride of the Paris-Roubaix cobbles on Thursday morning. The riders are expected to ride from the Forest of Arenberg until at least the Carrefour de l'Arbre sector, studying the most important sectors of pavé during a 90km ride. Some riders could also opt to ride back to the team's hotel in Roeselare, to add a further 60km to their ride.

The Bora-Hansgrohe team, like everyone in action at Paris-Roubaix, will transfer to Compiegne on Friday, in time to attend the official team presentation on Saturday afternoon.

Boonen was my favourite rider when I was 16

Sagan and Bora-Hansgrohe were the last team to sign on at the start Scheldeprijs, with Sagan given Tom Boonen a hug and wishing him all the best before they lined up for the start.

After signing on Sagan admitted that Boonen had been his boyhood hero when he first began racing.

"Tom Boonen was my favourite rider when I was 16. I watched him ride Flanders and Roubaix on Eurosport," Sagan said, accepting they were similar in the way they target the Classics and the sprints.

"I looked up to him as an idol. Now I'm doing the same sport and the same job. I suppose were similar in a lot of ways, in the way we crash too," Sagan joked.

Sagan dismissed a suggestion from French television that it will be easier for him to win when Boonen retires.

"It's more special to ride with him. I will have to be special without him, too. He's a good rider and a good guy. He'll be missed."

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