Vila: Peter Sagan is getting better and better

Bora-Hansgrohe directeur sportif Patxi Vila believes that Peter Sagan’s form is getting better and better, with his ride at Paris-Roubaix one of his best performances so far this season.

Sagan was one of the protagonists at Paris-Roubaix, helping to force the pace across the cobbles and making it into the six-man group that would eventually decide the race.

Heading into the Carrefour de l’Arbre, it looked like Sagan was on course to win in Roubaix for the second year running. However, he did not have the power and speed to follow the acceleration of Nils Politt on sector 3 and did not contest the sprint for fourth place with Sep Vanmarcke.

"From an overall racing perspective, I think that it was the best racing from Peter. I think that the progression of the shape and the results – if you take out Milan-San Remo – is getting better and better," Vila told Cyclingnews.

"We need to be confident. It’s not nice when you don’t win, and you are so close, because I think we saw that Peter was the strongest in the break, but in the end, that turned around. That’s Paris-Roubaix. It’s almost 260km of full gas racing."

Vila was also pleased with how the whole Bora-Hansgrohe team rallied around Sagan, despite losing one of his key helpers, Daniel Oss, to a crash before the race had reached the Arenberg Forest. Oss would have been an important rider in the closing kilometres of the race, though they were able to send Maciej Bodnar up the road in one of the earlier moves and he dropped back to help his team leader.

"Paris-Roubaix is always a tricky one, probably the trickiest of all of them. I think we went through the difficult moments with the team in a good way and we rode a good race," Vila explained.

"Oss had a crash and he hit his knee. We lost him pretty early in the race and that, of course, compromised the whole team and the whole dynamic for the end of the race.

"At the end, I think tactically we were in a good position, even though in the last group QuickStep had two riders and we were simply with Peter. Tactically, they did a good race and Peter at the end he missed some energy."

Sagan’s race programme has been designed around extending his spring campaign all the way up to Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 28. Vila says that it was a challenging off-season for Sagan, but doesn’t believe that he has done anything differently in his preparation for the spring.

"Not really. It was not the easiest winter for Peter, but I don’t think that anything changed from other years," he said.

With the Ardennes Classics beginning this weekend with the Amstel Gold Race, there is little that can be done now. Sagan can only hope that his performance at Paris-Roubaix was a true sign of improvement and that he will continue to progress in time for the Amstel Gold Race this Sunday and then Liège-Bastogne-Liège a week later. 

"I think you have to be at peace with yourself at the start of the race and say okay, did I do everything that I have to do? Am I in the situation I want at the start of the race?” Vila said.

"Then the result is we race to win. You’ve got to keep moving forward, looking ahead to next Sunday."

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