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Vila: Peter Sagan is not finding his past feelings, and we need to analyse why

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Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was not at his best at the Tour of Flanders

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was not at his best at the Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Peter Sagan and Jens Keukeleire climb the Paterberg

Peter Sagan and Jens Keukeleire climb the Paterberg (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) at the Tour of Flanders

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) at the Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Peter sagan climbs the Muur van Geraardsbergen the during Tour of Flanders

Peter sagan climbs the Muur van Geraardsbergen the during Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Peter Sagan pushes the pace at the Tour of Flanders

Peter Sagan pushes the pace at the Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Sebastian Langeveld (EF Education First) after the Tour of Flanders

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Sebastian Langeveld (EF Education First) after the Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Bora-Hansgrohe are concerned about Peter Sagan’s sub-par performances so far this spring, with directeur sportif Patxi Vila saying after the Tour of Flanders that they need to “analyse why that’s happening.”

Sagan, a winner of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the past, has had a disappointing spring campaign so far, with fourth place at Milan-San Remo, 17th at E3 Binck Bank, 32nd at Gent-Wevelgem, and 11th at the Tour of Flanders.

His results have been mitigated by the fact a stomach virus put him out of action for five days in the build-up to Tirreno-Adriatco last month. However, Vila’s comments suggested that the explanation did not start and end with that illness.

“We are chasing those results and that good feeling. For the moment, it’s not coming,” Vila told reporters in Oudenaarde at the finish of Tour of Flanders.

“I think he’s not finding the feelings he had in the past, and we need to analyse why that’s happening. In the end, it wasn’t a bad race – he was in the front group. We need to just analyse what’s not going perfect and try to change it.”

Asked whether the illness was still holding Sagan back, Vila would only say: “That’s not helping, for sure. That’s probably affecting him more than we thought at first. It’s not an excuse, but it didn’t help.”

Not thinking of Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Vila also dismissed speculation that Sagan was deliberately short of form with his Liège-Bastogne-Liège debut in mind. The final Monument of the spring features a new, flatter finish in the centre of Liège this year, which is expected to bring a wider range of riders into contention and which has attracted the three-time world champion.

Liège takes place on April 27, prior to which Sagan will race Paris-Roubaix and Amstel Gold Race on the two preceding Sundays.

“Milan-San Remo, Flanders and Roubaix were three big big goals, so I’d be lying if I said we’d moved everything back. That’s not true,” said Vila. “We wanted him to be 100 per cent from last week, from Milan-San Remo to the end of the Classics.”

If there was some cause for optimism, it came from the suggestion that Sagan is showing signs of moving in the right direction.

“I saw a good Peter, better at the end of the race than the middle part. It’s coming back, but he’s still not at the top top shape,” said Vila.

“We are here to win and if we don’t it’s disappointing. We’ve been working for almost six months for this. It’s disappointing, but it’s sport and we need to move forward.”

 

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.