Sagan failed to win a stage or get the better of Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) in the sprint finishes during the Tour Down Under but his three second places indicated he has done the hard miles and laid the foundations for 2017 during the winter.
On his return to Europe, Sagan will continue to train for the 2017 season, perhaps joining his Bora-hansgrohe teammates at a training camp in Mallorca. He will only race again at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 25, before heading to Italy to race and build-up for Milan-San Remo and the cobbled Classics –the biggest goals of his 2017 season.
Sagan worked for his new Bora-Hansgrohe teammate Sam Bennett in the first stage sprint at the Tour Down Under and helped Jay McCarthy on the hilltop finish in Paracombe and on the final stage to ensure the Australian finished third overall. When he realised he had the speed to take on Ewan and beat the other sprinters, he tried every possible tactics to land a stage victory but did not have the pure speed of the Orica-Scott sprinter.
“I feel very good. I am not at the top but I am taking back my condition slowly but for sure I will be good later,” Sagan said after the final stage in downtown Adelaide.
“Now I turn back in Europe and going to make a team camp. The next races will be in Belgium, what’s the name? It’s Brussels and Het Volk. They change the name…. then its Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico.”
The star of the Tour Down Under
Sagan was the star of the Tour Down Under. Australian fans enjoyed Ewan’s sprint success and cheered Richie Porte (BMC Racing) to overall victory but they loved Sagan’s swagger and bling factor. He arrived in Australia on December 27 and used the Australia summer to prepare for the 2017 season, with his wife Katarina and entourage.
Sagan was asked for autographs and selfies everywhere he went but seemed to enjoy his stay in Australia.
“It is very good organised, all the race. It is very nice conditions; it is good weather, good hotel. I like it here,” he said, refuting a suggestion it is perhaps difficult for European-based riders to travel to the southern hemisphere and challenge the on-form Australians who are used to the heat.
“It was okay. One day can be hot, one day its good temperature but what is very good it its not too hard stages. I mean not too long climbs and that also the stages are short. It is very good for us.”
“I heard every year it gets more difficult, harder stages, but still I think the passed week was really good and I enjoy it.”
Sagan has traditionally started his season at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina but following the demise of that race, he could opt to return to Australia in 2018.
“We will see…” he hinted.
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