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Peter Sagan (Cannondale) smiling at the start line
Sprinter wins Slovakian of the year
In an interview with Slovak newspaper Pravda, Sagan, who turns 24 at the end of January, says that a number of teams are looking for his signature when his current contract expires at the end of 2014. “Not only from him [Alonso],” Sagan told Pravda. “I have several offers, even from Dukla Trencin [a Slovakian continental team.]
“I am still contracted for a year. Everything is open and we'll discuss it. I'm not saying that I will go, maybe I'll stay. I'll see how it develops.” The Slovak is contracted to Cannondale until the end of the season, where he's spent his whole professional career.
The interview took place at an award ceremony where Sagan was named Slovak sportsman and cyclist [golden pedal] of the year. Sagan won more than any other rider in 2013, with 22 wins to Mark Cavendish's 19, and he also claimed his second consecutive green jersey at the Tour de France. Sagan says he is willing to sacrifice his position at the top of the winner's rankings to secure better quality victories next season.
“For me, it's not important to win 23 or 25 times, I would rather have quality wins,” Sagan said. “I would like to win in one of the most prestigious races, Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. If I could win one of them it would be enough, but maybe I can win two or three of them.”
Despite his impressive palmarès, Sagan is yet to win one of the monuments. He came close to success at Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders in 2013, finishing second in both races. He was favourite to take the title in La Primavera, but was usurped by surprise victor Gerald Ciolek.
“I screwed Milan-San Remo up. I lost that one myself," he said of defeat in the snow-interrupted race. "It was definitely the worst conditions I've had. But even in races like that I try to remain positive. [On the bus transfer] My leg was red with the cold and a couldn't move my ankle, but I knew that it would pass. The conditions were the same for everyone, so I couldn't complain. I do not think I'm the best, I still have a lot to learn to become better.”
The Cancellara conundrum
Standing between Sagan and his ambitions will be Fabian Cancellara, who is geared up for a big season, even by his standards. Cancellara rode away from the Sagan at the Tour of Flanders, before going on to win at Paris-Roubaix a week later. While Sagan admires his rival's talents he is trying not to let the Swiss' dominance last year get to him. “First of all I have to focus on myself, before I look at others. I am not ignorant of others, but they have their own lives." Tom Boonen will also be back in action and will provide another hurdle for Sagan to jump if hopes to secure victory in one of the five monuments.
It's not just on the bike that Sagan is working on. One change he made this year was to leave his home country for the sunnier climes of Monaco, to give himself a base in central Europe. “I used to live only in hotels and I was a bit tired,” he explained. “I have had a few training days in Monaco and it suited me. I can't train in Slovakia in the winter, so I decided to make my base in Monaco. I will spend most of my time there, between races.”
Sagan will go to Cannondale's team presentation in Los Angeles in the coming days, before heading to San Luis, Argentina for his first race of the season.