Peter Sagan (Cannondale) is back in Belgium for today's Brabantse Pijl race as he prepares for the final Classics of his spring campaign: the Amstel Gold Race and possibly next Wednesday's Fleche-Wallonne.
The Slovakian has not been seen since his video apology to podium girl Maja Leye after his behaviour on the Tour of Flanders podium. The two are expected to meet at the Brabantse Pijl because Maja works for race organiser Flanders Classics.
"I'll see her again and I hope I can find a way for her to forgive me," Sagan told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"It was a joke. What else do you think it was? The problem is that some people didn’t understand it. But I apologised to her because she didn’t like it."
Sagan spent some time training in Madrid with Manuel Quinziato but admitted he eased off a little and will ride the Brabantse Pijl and Thursday's GP de Denain in northern France to test his form before the Amstel Gold Race.
Despite a lack of training, Sagan is still confident of victory in the Limburg hills.
"I took my foot off the gas a bit after the Tour of Flanders and I've only done rides of up to four hours," he said.
"These next two races will help get back to my best and on Sunday I hope to be up there to try and win. I was third in 2012 and seeing that I've improved all my results… The Amstel Gold race will also help me understand what to do for Fleche-Wallonne. If I don’t go well on Sunday, I'll go home, otherwise I'll keep going and try and win on the Muur of Huy. For sure I won't do Liege-Bastogne-Liege."
Sagan will face a new set of rivals in the Ardennes, with the climbers and stage race riders arriving from the Tour of the Basque Country, the Circuit Sarthe and training camps at altitude. He does not seem worried about the new, fresher competition he will face in the Ardennes hills.
"Bring it on. They change but I haven't," he said. "I'm still on form and to beat me they'll have to go really well," he said, staying true to character.