Peter Sagan played down his chances of victory at Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, suggesting he is in Belgium to get a taste of racing on the cobbles before the more important spring Classics in late March and April.
The world champion was sporting a hipster-like beard but jokingly admitted it was about to be shaved off. Sagan only turned serious when he was asked about the use of disc brakes in the peloton.
He was spotted training on a disc-brake-equipped Specialized bike but it is unclear if he use a disc brake bike following the crash on stage 1 of the Abu Dhabi Tour and Marcel Kittel’s decision not to use his disc brake bike as a sign of respect to his fellow riders who are concerned about the risk of unprotected disc rotors and a homogenous peloton.
"Well, I don’t know," Sagan said, choosing his worlds carefully. "Maybe in two years it’ll be old. For sure its some improvement on the bicycle.
"It’s like in race cars. If everyone is using ceramic brakes it’s okay. If someone is using ceramic and others not, its bad. Also in the race if we use disc brakes then we have to be sure that everyone is using disc brakes. But they’re the future and it’s not my job [to decide]. I’m just saying my opinion."
Sagan was hesitant to talk about his form and his chance of success in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad despite his strong season debut at the Tour Down Under. Since returning to Europe he has spent a long spell at an altitude training camp with his Bora-Hansgrohe teammates in Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountains.
"Well, it’s another year. It was a long time I didn’t be here. But it’s good, the season has started already. I’m here to pick up the Belgian atmosphere and race style. We’ll see how we be," he told Belgian Sporza television in his unique form of English.
"Like everyone knows in cycling. The real season starts with Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice, and Milan-San Remo opens the Classics season. This is an important race for me because I can feel the race rhythm and the atmosphere here. It’s different in Belgium to in Italy or Spain. It’s important to finish both races, then I achieve another level maybe. It’s important not to crash. It’s important racing because racing is the best training, no?"
Sagan finished second in last year’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He was beaten in the slightly rising and twisting sprint by Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing). The Sporza journalist suggested that Sagan does not need to be at his very best to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but Sagan laughed at the idea of calculating his form.
"I don’t know, I never won this race. I’m not a machine that you can calculate at what percentage you can perform. I feel good off the bike but on the bike is a different story….," he said, letting out his deep laugh.
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