Peter Sagan was a much more present force at Paris-Roubaix than he has been for much of the cobbled Classics, but the Bora-Hansgrohe rider said that he was missing the energy he needed to follow the late attacks. Nevertheless, Sagan was happy with how he rode, saying that he’d had a great race.
In a similar place to where he launched his own solo attack last year, Sagan bridged across to the move that would ultimately decide the race with a little over 50 kilometres remaining. The defending champion looked strong as he led the group onto Mons-en-Pévèle and put in a few accelerations to test his rivals.
Knowing that they couldn’t take Sagan to the line, his companions took turns to attack but Sagan seemed wise to it. However, he ran out of steam when Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) made his attack, followed by eventual winner Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) inside the final 15 kilometres. A podium still appeared to be in the offing, but he was eventually distanced by Yves Lampaert with the velodrome almost in sight.
“It was good, it was just you know… I did a great race, but in the end, I missed some energy in the final. I did a lot before, and after I miss it,” Sagan said outside his team bus after taking a shower to clean the mud from his face. “In the end I was missing a little bit, maybe I did a bit too much work earlier on and the lacked a bit in the end. But it’s always very hard against two strong riders like Lampaert and Gilbert.”
In the end, Sagan came to the velodrome with Sep Vanmarcke, who had caught up with him after suffering a mechanical problem. Sagan’s exhaustion was clear to see as he did not even react to Vanmarcke’s sprint for the line, rolling over to take fifth place – a strong result nevertheless.
“I don’t know exactly what happened. In the end I was quite empty in the legs,” explained Sagan. “If I had a better day, it might have been different, but I did my best I’m happy with that.”
After a difficult period over the past two weeks, Paris-Roubaix was perhaps a sign of Sagan’s fortunes turning as he now looks towards the Ardennes Classics next week. Whether or not it was his best performance of the spring, Sagan is not so sure, but he can leave France relatively pleased.
“Well, I was also good in Milan-San Remo. In Australia, I also won one stage. I don't think it was the best but for sure it was OK,” said Sagan. “How I always say, every year is different, you know, every race is different. If you are going to repeat this tomorrow this race is going to be totally different. You know, we have only one shot and we have to take our chance.”