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Sagan ready to take on Cancellara in 2014

Stephen Farrand
December 26, 2013, 12:10,
December 26, 2013, 13:52
First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, December 26, 2013
Green jersey Peter Sagan (Cannondale)

Green jersey Peter Sagan (Cannondale)

  • Green jersey Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
  • Smile Peter!
  • Another day, another training ride
  • Peter Sagan shows his power

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Cannondale rider talks about his cobbled Classics rivalry

Peter Sagan is convinced he will continue to mature and improve in 2014 as he learns the secrets of winning the cobbled Classics and so how to defeat his biggest rival and often his biggest critic Fabian Cancellara.

Sagan will be 24 on January 26, the last day of the Tour de San Luis, where he will begin his 2014 season. He is eight years younger than Cancellara but won Gent-Wevelgem and 21 other races in 2013, dominated the green points jersey competition for a second year at the Tour de France and finished second to Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) at Milan-San Remo and was second to Cancellara at the Tour of Flanders.

"I think I've done better every season and 2013 was definitely a good season. There's always something you can improve, you can always do better, you can always win more, so you can never be satisfied. That's how I approach life and my racing," Sagan told Cyclingnews in an exclusive interview at the recent Cannondale training camp.

"I make mistakes in races but you can always learn from your mistakes. I'm sorry I didn’t win Milan-San Remo. I'll remember losing the sprint to Ciolek for the rest of my life but now I've got over it, I've learn from it. I think I'm gaining more and more experience all the time. I'm becoming more automatic in how I do things, I feel I'm getting better and better."

Natural born leader

Sagan's development is almost visible to the human eye. Physically he is stronger and leaner, while mentally he seems able to handle the pressure and notoriety of being one of the biggest names in the professional peloton. He laughs and jokes during the interview and when with his teammates but quickly turns serious when necessary. He appears to be a natural leader; he is both inspiring and demanding with his teammates. He lead his group during a training ride but was not afraid to speak his mind about his team's performance in the team time trial race created by new coach Sebastian Weber.

"I hope I can be a good leader," he said.

"I think a leader has to be a good person, treat other people the right way and have charisma, so I try and lead by example be honest and sincere."

Taking on Cancellara

Cannondale has several different team leaders, including Ivan Basso, Moreno Moser and sprinter Elia Viviani but Sagan is now by far the biggest name in the team. Sagan knows he be team leader in all the spring Classics, including Paris-Roubaix in 2014. It will be up to him to take on and beat Fabian Cancellara if he wants to prove he is now the best Classics rider in the peloton.

Cancellara is often irritated by Sagan's impertinence and arrival as the heir to his cobbled Classics crown.

The Swiss star recently suggested Sagan could suffer under the pressure of expectation on his young shoulders in 2014. When Sagan hears Cancellara's attempt at pre-season mind games, he laughs and responds blow for blow, just as he would in a race scenario.

"He's the one who'll be under pressure to win in 2014… Sagan told Cyclingnews with a mischievous laugh.

"I've still a lot of my career ahead of me to win. I don’t know how long he can keep going for?"

"I can't understand why there needs to be a war of words in the press but he likes to talk a lot. But the wheel always turns in cycling as we say… He talked a lot about the world championships in Florence but what happened?"

"I'm joking a bit, of course. Fabian's a great champion. He and Tom Boonen are the riders I grew up watching on television and now I'm racing against them."

"I don’t know if he said that because he's trying to provoke me or if he simply doesn't like me but I admire him. He always does well in the races he targets. So if I lose to him at the Tour of Flanders like I did last year, I just have to accept defeat. He was stronger than me and won. We'll see what happens in 2014."

bianchi1885 9 months ago
Looking forward to Galactus vs. Spartacus -- 2014.
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indurain666 9 months ago
One of the most entertaining and aggressive riders. Should be fun to watch..
TheBean 9 months ago
Podium girls beware!
txcolnago 9 months ago
Sagan may be stronger. Cancellara will me smarter.
TheFred 9 months ago
Hmmm...I'd say Sagan is faster but Cancellara is stronger (raw power). Cancellara is one of the true "hard men" of cycling. The more brutal a race becomes, the more likely Cancellara will finish first. But Sagan is a supreme talent. And Cancellara is afraid of Sagan's speed, thus the mind games. Sagan brings fun and lightheartedness to racing. He is so incredibly physically gifted that he can be playful with events that leave others broken. And we get to watch it all:-)
JantonStentenan 9 months ago
As somebody who knows a little something about "hard men" I can definitely agree that Cancellara is indeed a hard man.
TANK91 9 months ago
Wow their is a suprise Janton is back blowing his own trumpet lol, were u been haha.
Strydz 9 months ago
Canc smarter? He is strong but tactically falls a little short, towing Gerrans to Milan-San Remo in 2012 is a good example
nepetalactone 9 months ago
It was podium if he towed or top twenty if he didn't What would you take?
MonkeyFace 9 months ago
Cancellera never plays his cards right. He almost always does way too much w ork and is perpetually overconfident that he is strong enough to tow someone to the line and beat him. He might have been the strongest he has ever been in 2011 and he didn't win a single classic.
FabiquesAnquetillara 9 months ago
There will be months of talks,statements,teasing,trash talk,polite gestures of respect for opponent etc etc among all riders. Same as ever. All of it will mean nothing when the flag from race director will drop and race will start.
sam171 9 months ago
i respect him but i just dont like sagan. maybe it's his brashness or his natural ability while others have to work harder but there's little heart there which is something i look for when supporting my favorite cyclists.
Dear Wiggo 9 months ago
Agreed. Ticker wins me over every time.,
JamieSmith 9 months ago
if you've ever met him, you'd find Peter to be very genuine and full of heart. I, and many others, think that he's what cycling needs right now. Try to look at Sagan as someone who is having fun on his bike. I watched him suffer like a dog without complaint up the final climb of ATOC Stage 2 in Palm Springs. He's paying his dues.
Mark Hornsby 9 months ago
I look forward to Cancellara bringing the Neanderthal down a peg or two.
TheFred 9 months ago
Oh boy, here we go again. Yes, he sometimes has childish/inconsiderate behavior. But... He is a rich, very young, semi world famous star (think rappers, rock n rollers, NFL players). He's not quite so bad. He is Slovakian (think SNL "Two Wild and Crazy Guys"). He's not quite so bad. Cut him some slack and enjoy the different brand of entertainment he brings to our sport; it's relatively harmless and may even bring some positive exposure.
Mark Hornsby 9 months ago
Oh boy, here we go again: "cut him some slack", followed by all the same hackneyed excuses. In one word: NO!
TheFred 9 months ago
Ok Mark, don't cut him some slack. Do you hold irreversible anger toward all humans who treat another human poorly? Or was there something in particular about that life-threatening pinch that gets your goat? Or are you just jealous cause you can't wheelie?
Mark Hornsby 9 months ago
Irreversible anger? Jealous? Do you always make such tragically asinine comments when people don't agree with you?
Mark Hornsby 9 months ago
And have I even mentioned that pinch? The only ones here who are obsessed with that pinch are the lugheads who cheered it.
beaupre2003 9 months ago
Sagan is colorful and a breath of fresh air among the blandness of most pro cyclists. Heck, of most pro athletes, for that matter.
sbroaddus 9 months ago
Young Peter handled this interview very well I think, and even though Cancellara has earned his leadership status, when he criticizes the young gun it just makes him look a bit stuffy and conceited. I'm with Fred on this one.
MatParker117 9 months ago
If Sagan can hold Canc's wheel then he will beat him 10 times out of 10.
Mark Hornsby 9 months ago
Even if I agreed with that (which I don't), that's still a very big 'if' .. especially given Sagan's shockingly poor tactical nous.
MatParker117 9 months ago
Sagan's a much better sprinter that's a fact and I agree that's a big if.
Mark Hornsby 9 months ago
He is certainly a faster sprinter. Whether faster necessarily equates to better is ... well, best not go there :)
dslacker 9 months ago
Sagan is 23. Tactics come from experience, which puts Spartacus way ahead for now. Sagan takes his racing seriously, and I believe him when he says he's learning from his losses. I would never criticize him for being young. He'll get over it.
Strydz 9 months ago
Canc isn't tactically much better
sbroaddus 9 months ago
tactics schmactics, who won roubaix and flanders last year? nuff said.
sbroaddus 9 months ago
who needs tactics when you can win alone, win in a sprint, or win by dropping your breakaway companions?! the young man admits in this interview that he makes mistakes, that he will learn from them, and yet he won 22 races this year alone. poor tactical nous my hind parts!
Anonymous 9 months ago
Seriously? He pinched a girls A S S get over it.
Strydz 9 months ago
Pull ya head out Anoymous
ridenroll 9 months ago
You jealous, too?
rocket man 9 months ago
Seriously Mark, Sagan is one the most exiting and talented riders to come into cycling in the past 20 years. By the time he reaches Cancellara's age I think you may well have changed your tune. I know I can't wait to see what he can achieve throughout his career.
Mark Hornsby 9 months ago
I don't ever recall saying that he isn't a great talent. I do wish people would stop extrapolating.
reubenr 9 months ago
Cancellara was lacking something last year. He dropped weight. Looked like he was trying to make a move on the mountains to broaden his possibilities, but I think it cost him quite a bit. I would think that next year, Sagan will punish him, if they come head to head. Sagan made some mistakes last year, but he didn't repeat them. He's smart and strong. Very exciting. I love the climbers and the long range sprinters. Can't say I think much about the British guy, since he seems suspect, but there is no doubt that Sagan fills the bill on striking from a distance. He's so strong and he seems so real. Cancellara has no where to go, while Sagan is in a cake walk.
Alan D 9 months ago
Er... cakewalk?.. LOL... you've obviously never tried to go with an attacking superman like Cancer when he decides to put the hammer down. As for the weight loss the word is that was all about Flanders; Cancer hurts badly on this walls, and he was deadset on making it easier. He's a VERY smart cookie and I don't think any move he makes is taken lightly. But appart from that.. I'm with you on the climber/long sprinters. Sagan's going to be both, for a very long time. Haven't seen anything like him (in so many ways ;-) since Boonen's early years, and maybe even Roger DeVlaeminck.
thelowerdepths 9 months ago
admittedly, giving Cancellara a nickname like "Cancer" might not be the best?
sam171 9 months ago
mega races like milan san remo, flanders, roubaix...the worlds...they reward a veteran. sagan will inevitably win them all but he's too young for now and doesnt have that experience in his legs. i thought flanders this year was completely underrated as a race. cancellara dropping sagan...especially after all of the pre-publicity for the race was legendary.
thelowerdepths 9 months ago
yes, bike races do reward experience, 2013 Spring races for Sagan: 1st Gent–Wevelgem 1st Brabantse Pijl 1st Stage 1 Three Days of De Panne 2nd Strade Bianche 2nd Milan – San Remo 2nd E3 Harelbeke 2nd Tour of Flanders and 6th in the Worlds (Fabian was 10th), after a very long season with another Green Jersey … so if that was an unexperienced Sagan, this year should be quite eye-opening …
TheBean 9 months ago
Thanks for the succinct re-cap, depths. At least one of Sagan's 2nds came from a tactical error in the finale. His 2nd at Flanders was a case of being out-ridden by Canc. Bring on 2014!
veterinar 9 months ago
Don't forget 1st GP de Montréal, where he won not by a sprint, but rather a Cancellara-style move.
nuvolablu 9 months ago
My two favourite riders, so different but both great champions! I
bike_boy 9 months ago
I'm looking forward to seeing these two guys duke it out with Boonen at flanders. Hopefully all three are fit, strong and healthy when the race rolls around.
TheBean 9 months ago
Here's hoping they all make it to the final kilometers without a crash. Seeing Boonen spilled into a ditch last year was a disappointment.