Vila: Peter Sagan is not finding his past feelings, and we need to analyse why

Bora-Hansgrohe director suggests illness is a factor but not the whole story

Bora-Hansgrohe are concerned about Peter Sagan’s sub-par performances so far this spring, with directeur sportif Patxi Vila saying after the Tour of Flanders that they need to “analyse why that’s happening.”

Sagan, a winner of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the past, has had a disappointing spring campaign so far, with fourth place at Milan-San Remo, 17th at E3 Binck Bank, 32nd at Gent-Wevelgem, and 11th at the Tour of Flanders.

His results have been mitigated by the fact a stomach virus put him out of action for five days in the build-up to Tirreno-Adriatco last month. However, Vila’s comments suggested that the explanation did not start and end with that illness.

“We are chasing those results and that good feeling. For the moment, it’s not coming,” Vila told reporters in Oudenaarde at the finish of Tour of Flanders.

“I think he’s not finding the feelings he had in the past, and we need to analyse why that’s happening. In the end, it wasn’t a bad race – he was in the front group. We need to just analyse what’s not going perfect and try to change it.”

Asked whether the illness was still holding Sagan back, Vila would only say: “That’s not helping, for sure. That’s probably affecting him more than we thought at first. It’s not an excuse, but it didn’t help.”

Not thinking of Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Vila also dismissed speculation that Sagan was deliberately short of form with his Liège-Bastogne-Liège debut in mind. The final Monument of the spring features a new, flatter finish in the centre of Liège this year, which is expected to bring a wider range of riders into contention and which has attracted the three-time world champion.

Liège takes place on April 27, prior to which Sagan will race Paris-Roubaix and Amstel Gold Race on the two preceding Sundays.

“Milan-San Remo, Flanders and Roubaix were three big big goals, so I’d be lying if I said we’d moved everything back. That’s not true,” said Vila. “We wanted him to be 100 per cent from last week, from Milan-San Remo to the end of the Classics.”

If there was some cause for optimism, it came from the suggestion that Sagan is showing signs of moving in the right direction.

“I saw a good Peter, better at the end of the race than the middle part. It’s coming back, but he’s still not at the top top shape,” said Vila.

“We are here to win and if we don’t it’s disappointing. We’ve been working for almost six months for this. It’s disappointing, but it’s sport and we need to move forward.”

 

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