Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) was clearly disappointed to be beaten and forced to accept yet another second place on the uphill finish in Arezzo on stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico, but he refused to be ruffled by a series of questions about his form and long run of placings.
Sagan’s last victory was on June 29 last year, when he won the Slovakian national road race title. He won the green points jersey at the Tour de France but without winning a stage. He has now racked up 15 second places since the start of 2014, including four this season. He has won seven races in the same period.
“I got another second place. I’m happy about that…” Sagan said with a strong dose of irony after a journalist from Gazzetta dello Sport went on the attack and pointed out that he failed to win yet again.
“No seriously, if I’d won today it would have been better. I’ve got to thank the team because they did a great job by working all day. I didn’t manage to win but it’s not Sunday every day…”
In truth, Sagan has not celebrated Sunday or a victory for eight months. As the highly-paid star of Tinkoff-Saxo he is expected to deliver. He has been prolific during much of his career, winning over sixty races, making winning look it easy. Now winning seems out of his grasp.
“I don’t know what has happened. I’m trying to win…” he said.
Sagan was arguably the fastest in the final 100 metres but had to come from too far back to edge past eventual winner Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). It was close at the line and Sagan beat Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) but ended up with another second place.
“There was a bit of confusion as we hit the ramp, everybody slowed a bit and we came back together,” Sagan explained. “After the last corner I had to come from too far back. It was my fault a bit. I think I was in the right gear. I was just too far back.”
Sagan can only look to the future and hope to win Saturday’s fourth stage to Castelraimondo. The finale of the 226km stage features two laps of a 13km circuit that includes a steep three-kilometre climb.