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Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) took over the race leadership
Liquigas' 21-year-old talent to make Grand Tour debut
The Tour of Poland's winner, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), plans to race the Vuelta a Espana which starts on August 20 in Benindorm, officially with low-key ambitions. "I will go without any pressure, and not for the general classification," Sagan said after the Tour of Poland's final stage in Krakow.
In only his second season as a professional, Sagan, 21, will compete in his first Grand Tour.
"Tranquillo" is the Liquigas-Cannondale staff's motto when they speak about the young Slovak rider.
Mario Scirea, Liquigas-Cannondale's directeur sportif, confirms his protégé won't chase a place in GC. "We have got Vicenzo Nibali for that purpose," he told Cyclingnews. "In the mountains, we expect to see young riders like Eros Capecchi and Damiano Caruso. So Peter will fight for stage victories."
Despite his young age, Sagan already has seven wins at the WordTour level in his palmares: two stages in the 2010 Paris-Nice, two in this year's Tour of Romandie, two in the Tour of Poland with the overall victory as the cream at the top of the cake.
At the Vuelta, Scirea thinks Sagan can do well in sprints. "Especially in uphill finishes, like in the Tour of Poland's fourth stage. Peter is explosive, with characteristics similar to Philippe Gilbert or Edvald Boasson Hagen."
Liquigas-Cannondale's directeur sportif wouldn't reveal any clear plan for Sagan. "We'll take the Vuelta day by day. We are always very careful with him because he's very young. The race will be important also for his experience."
Depending on his condition after three weeks of racing at the Vuelta, Sagan might take part in the Tour of Lombardy later in the fall. "But he's strong now in early August and nothing grants he'll be the same in early October," Scirea said.
At the Tour of Poland, Liquigas-Cannondale led the peloton in the last three stages, both for Sagan's support and Vuelta preparation. Nibali himself was part of the sprint lead-out in Krakow.
"It's very good," Scirea said. "Nibali worked for Sagan at the Tour of Poland, Sagan will work for Nibali at the Vuelta. Our priority at Liquigas-Canondale is to have a team working as a team..."
Cyclingnews understands six riders are already part of the Italian ProTeam's roster for the Spanish Grand Tour, including Nibali, Sagan, Capecchi, Caruso, Valerio Agnoli and Mauro Da Dalto.