Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) produced a yet another strong performance to pull back six seconds on Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) in the final 10.1km time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico but it was one second short of what he needed to win the overall classification, leaving the world champion with yet another second place.
Sagan refused suggestions that he was disappointed but signs of frustration were evident as he stood one step below Van Avermaet on the final podium in San Benedetto del Tronto.
“Disappointed? If you look at it that way, it could be bad, but I look at it differently,” he argued.
“Had they not cancelled the stage, I wouldn't even be here in second place. I think I rode a good time trial; I did the most I could.
There are time trials I've won in my life. I think I went well, but not great. How can you know how your rivals go? I did my best. It went how it went, that's it. My form could be the best in the world, but results count.”
Sagan was reportedly unhappy with how Van Avermaet had sat on and then sprinted to victory during the late attack on stage 6 to Cepagatti. Tinkoff and Etixx-QuickStep both had three riders in the attack and worked to stay away, while Van Avermaet was alone and claimed he did not have to work because his teammates Damiano Caruso and Tejay van Garderen were in the peloton and both were overall race contenders.
“That's not my style,” Sagan said. “I also had teammates behind, Etixx had teammates behind! I've been many times in escapes with Nibali and Rodriguez here in Tirreno and they pulled hard.
“It's not my style to win like that. However, I can't say anything because cycling is like that. One pulls and another no, everyone decides what to do. Then, okay the race goes how it goes.
“If they had not cancelled the stage we wouldn't even be here to fight for the GC. I lost by one second. I'm not upset; I'm content with how it went. Maybe even more motivated for the races to come.”
Sagan and many of the other riders targeting Milan-San Remo will head toward Milan in the next few days. Tirreno-Adriatico has given them a final block of racing and it is now time to recover and rest up for Saturday’s first monument of the 2016 season. Sagan refused the role of pre-race favourite despite his show of force but string of placings at Tirreno-Adriatico
“The list of favourites includes others, not only me. I'll be there competing with them,” he said. “Every year I've been able to win at least one stage here. This year, I wasn't able to win but I have other goals ahead. So you know, maybe if you take the measure of everything together, it went well for me. My condition is good. I can start my season calmly from here.”