Switch to Tinkoff gives Sagan ‘chance to restart’
MILAN (VN) — Slovak Peter Sagan just finished climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with his new Tinkoff-Saxo teammates and is beginning to consider the changes in store for 2015.
“I’d swap at least one of them [the three green jerseys from the Tour de France],” Sagan said, “for a win in one of the big classics.”
Sagan spoke with Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport before flying to Africa to meet his new teammates, including grand tour star Alberto Contador. He has won the Tour’s green jersey the last three years, but his mind remains fixed on the spring’s tough one-day races, the monuments Milano-Sanremo, Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), and Paris-Roubaix.
Since joining the big leagues with Liquigas in 2010, the 24-year-old has gone after that goal. The Italian outfit sent him to the various one-day races through his first two seasons. He came close to winning in 2012, finishing fourth in Milano-Sanremo and fifth in the Tour of Flanders in 2012, and was second in both races the following year.
The green team, with the help of new trainer Sebastian Weber, tweaked Sagan’s program for 2014. Instead of the Ardennes Classics, Sagan returned to the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix. However, given his “Saganator” status, it was not a great campaign: 10th in Sanremo, 16th in Flanders, and sixth in Roubaix.
Weber told Velonews that Sagan’s numbers were the same if not better than in 2013. Asked to pinpoint one issue, the German trainer said the team around Sagan needs to improve.
Sagan may have that super classics team now that he has switched to Russian-based Tinkoff-Saxo. That team, when it was formerly Danish and called CSC, helped Fabian Cancellara win his first monuments.
“It was my first [change] in teams in my career,” Sagan added. “I have to start winning the big classics, at the same time, continuing to have fun on the bike.”
While climbing Kilamanjario in Tanzania, Sagan had plenty of time to speak with team manager Bjarne Riis.
Riis has more time to devote to his stars after selling the team to Russian Oleg Tinkov last year, and Sagan is one of his priorities given that the team reportedly agreed to pay him $6.2 million a year, through 2017.
This week, Riis welcomed Bobby Julich, the team’s new coach, and sport director Sean Yates. They will help the team, along with with Riis, sport director Steven de Jongh, and others, schedule Sagan’s 2015 calendar to be ready for the period from March 22 to April 12.
“It’s a question of having the head and legs. And patience, if at times they are racing against me,” Sagan said.
“I want to hear what advice the new team has for me about my calendar and my tactics. Maybe this change in teams was what I needed. A chance to restart.”
Early Wednesday morning, Sagan reached Kilimanjaro’s summit, Africa’s highest peak and the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. In theory, from 19,341 feet above sea level, 2015 should feel like an easy downhill run for Tinkoff’s star.