Peter Sagan may have denied feeling the pressure to perform three weeks ago to Cyclingnews on the eve of Milan-San Remo but three weeks on, and two consecutive fourth places in Monuments, the pressure is really showing for the Tinkoff-Saxo rider.
The expectations placed upon Sagan after his blistering debut seasons are high and, with two victories to his name in 2015, he and the team seem frustrated with the comparative lack of results.
During the team’s recon of the Paris-Roubaix course on Friday, there was an edge to Sagan throughout the day. When fans approached him for a photo with their hero at the end of their ride, just after the Carrefour de l’Arbre, he begrudgingly agreed to a couple before riding away to find a quiet place to wait for the team bus that had got lost en-route.
On Saturday during the Paris-Roubaix team presentation, the Slovakian could hardly get away quick enough after the team had been introduced to the crowd. He signed a few autographs but then chose not to follow his teammates, and pick up the free gift given to all riders and directeur sportifs, seeing the awaiting pack of journalists eager to get a few words with him. He made a quick turn, off to the right and left for the bus, however, he was accosted by French television before he could make his escape.
When asked what he hoped for this Sunday his answer was succinct: “My ambition is to be doing my maximum and we will see what is coming… I want to be fighting for first place.”
The hot topic of the day was Alexander Kristoff and his recent domination. “Why you think he’s a robot or what?” Sagan reacted when asked if Kristoff was unbeatable. “Flanders was one week ago, now it is another day.
“I don’t know, we are always speaking about Kristoff, for one year, but we will see tomorrow. You will have to wait 24 hours,” he added before promptly walking back to the team bus.
Tactically, Sagan has probably raced his best classics season in recent times but his legs seem to have deserted him. At E3 Harelbeke, he was in the mix with a podium place almost guaranteed until he spectacularly blew when Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) made what would be the race-winning move.
A week later, had he been able to stay with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), his first podium at the Tour of Flanders was within his grasp. However, with only one race remaining of the Spring Classics, he could end his cobbled campaign without a single podium for the first time since 2011.
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