Although he won his third straight points classification in the Tour de France this season, Peter Sagan lacked the volume of victories of his previous seasons, but his new Tinkoff-Saxo team manager Bjarne Riis has high hopes that the Slovakian champion will turn his luck around in 2015.
Riis also supports the plan to field 2014 Vuelta a España winner Alberto Contador in both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France, saying that it is worth the risk.
Sagan had just three WorldTour victories this season and seven in total, with a stage in the Tour de Suisse and Tirreno-Adriatico, and the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke his best results aside from his green jersey performance. But his second place in Strade Bianche, a podium spot in Gent-Wevelgem and sixth in Paris-Roubaix gives Riis hope that Sagan can start winning in the Classics.
"We must win a Classic," Riis said to BT.dk. "Peter Sagan has a chance to win in all of them, and I will allow myself to be disappointed if he does not. And then we must have a victory in a Grand Tour."
Riis supports the plan to have Contador contest both the Giro and the Tour, aiming for victory in both. "Alberto needs challenges to motivate him," Riis said. "Of course there is a risk associated with it, but I like the idea. We need riders who have the desire to risk it all. Why shouldn't he? If there is anyone who can do it, it's him. He can recover for the Tour. If I did not believe it, I would oppose the plan."
Riis also defended adding Sean Yates and Bobby Julich to his staff for the coming season. Both riders left Team Sky in the wake of the USADA report on Lance Armstrong. Julich admitted to doping and stepped down in compliance with the team's strict ethics policy, while Yates cited "personal reasons" and denied any knowledge of doping on the team during his time with Armstrong's Discover Channel squad.
"I would not hire anyone I didn't feel I could trust," Riis said. "I have worked with Sean Yates and Bobby Julich before without problems. I've said it 1,000 times: The most important thing is that I can vouch for what I do and make. I have no further need to explain myself. I am running a serious team."