Peter Sagan's fourth and fifth placings during the first two stages of Paris-Nice have come as a nice surprise for the Liquigas-Cannondale management after his heavy crash a week ago at the Classica Sarda, where he placed third
Having won three stages and the overall classification at the Giro di Sardegna, Sagan came down heavily during the Classica Sarda and wasn't holding high hopes for his performance at the 'Race to the Sun'.
The 21-year-old Slovak didn't mention it but his directeur sportif Stefano Zanatta told Cyclingnews in Amilly: "After the crash on Sunday, he got five stitches on his hip. He couldn't train and lost five days of important work, that's why he doesn't have the condition to win the overall classification here at Paris-Nice... but if he comes up with a stage win, it's enough."
In fact, Sagan didn't start Paris-Nice with the best morale, although one year ago he was the revelation of the event when he won two stages. "I don't know if I'm a better rider this year," he said in Houdan. "I'm not very inspired by the course of Paris-Nice. I don't think the long time trial is good for me."
His best chance of winning a stage was probably on the opening day. "But we never caught the breakaway, so it was the end of my hopes of a win," he explained.
"The uphill finish of stage one was pretty good for him," Zanatta explained. "He still tries to sprint on the flat finishes against pure sprinters who are very strong. It's a good sign. How well he can time trial on Friday is still unknown to all of us but there are other opportunities for a stage win, which is our only goal for Paris-Nice."