Peter Sagan rode around the Roubaix velodrome shaking his head is disappointment after finishing several minutes behind winner Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) at Paris-Roubaix and then he kept riding, letting out a few bursts of anger as he rode towards the Bora-Hansgrohe team bus, which was parked outside.
His wife Katarina, his father and many friends waited outside the bus but Sagan needed time to recover from his huge effort and time to recover from the disappointment of going on the attack twice but then two puncturing twice in key moments of the race. He managed to fight his way back to the main group that chased the attackers but then paid for his effort when other attacks were made. He slipped back and finished 5:12 behind Van Avermaet.
When Sagan emerged, he got a consolatory hug from his father and a kiss from Katerina. His disappointment was far stronger than his fatigue from the race.
"I had two flats… I'd spent a lot of energy to go on the attack, because it's not easy for me to get away when they see me move. I managed to get away twice but I was slowed by punctures. It was a bit of an unlucky day for me but then I ran out of energy to be up front in the action," Sagan explained.
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"As I said before, in order to win Paris-Roubaix you need more than good form and legs. However, that's part of cycling and we will try next year."
Results fail to match form
Paris-Roubaix marks the end of Sagan's spring campaign and so it was time to look back at the last few weeks. Sagan won Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and two stages at Tirreno-Adriatico but he finished second at Milan-San Remo in a close sprint with Michal Kwiatkowski, and was third at Gent-Wevelgem after clashing with Niki Terpstra and refusing to accept the Dutchman's negative tactics. He then crashed at the Tour of Flanders after tangling with a spectator’s jacket and was unable to remount quickly, costing him any chance of success.
Sagan was often isolated by stronger rival teams and fell into their traps, meaning he ends his second spring as world champion without a win in a Monument Classic. However he refused to describe his spring as unlucky, bring brutally honest.
"Unlucky? No. I lost Milan-San Remo. At the Tour of Flanders I made a mistake and then today I was unlucky," he said.
"I'm happy with my form but not with the results. I can't be happy with the results I've had this spring."
Sagan will now take a break and return to racing at the Tour of California in May. He has been racing since January 15 after starting his season at the Tour Down Under in Australia.
"I'm very tired but the season continues," he said. "I'll take a bit of a break now and then I'll get going again at the Tour of California. Then I'll have important races like the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France."
Sagan's biggest memory and biggest regret of the spring Classics may well be the way other teams often rode against him, isolating him and forcing him to defend himself from attacks. It is something he is used to and something he does not expect to change.
"It'll only get worse…" he concluded, realistic and honest to the very end of his spring.
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