Peter Sagan fends off some fierce attacks in the finale to secure the overall victory at the Giro di Sardegna.

How good is Peter Sagan? The young buck, who turned 21 last month, fended off some fierce attacks in Saturday’s second-category uphill finish to secure the overall victory at the Giro di Sardegna.

Michele Scarponi, fourth overall at last year’s Giro d’Italia, kicked to victory atop the short, but steep 5km climb at Gesturi to win for the first time since joining Lampre for the 2011 season.

Sagan started with a 14-second lead on Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and a 17-second lead to José Serpa (Androni) with everything on the line for the overall title. Scarponi and Serpa attacked, but Sagan didn’t panic and calmly crossed the line fourth at 11 seconds back to secure the overall crown for the third year in a row for Liquigas-Cannondale.

Time bonuses were key, and despite Scarponi taking a 10-second bonus for the win, Sagan had enough in his pocket after winning three stages to climb atop the podium with a three-second overall win ahead of Serpa. Cunego rounded out the podium with third at 17 seconds back and Scarponi was fourth at 18.

“When they attacked in the finale, I kept my cool. I was sure I could maintain the gap,” Sagan said in a team release. “I could feel the weariness in my legs building from the previous stages, so to increase my pace would have been a risk. The team was fantastic once again: Nibali and Capecchi took me to the line and prevented Serpa from gaining more time.”

Sagan was one of 2010’s top revelations in his rookie year with Liquigas, winning two stages and the points jersey at Paris-Nice and two stages and eighth overall at the Tour of California. Sagan’s next major goal is returning to Paris-Nice.

“I still don’t know what my potential is,” Sagan said earlier in the week. “(Friday’s) victory was key. Winning here was not easy and there was never a quiet day. In addition to making me happy, the Giro di Sardegna has turned out to be some excellent training for my next big goal: to have a big ride at Paris-Nice. I feel I have good form and I hope the successes are just beginning.”

Stage 5

Final overall standings

Complete results