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Bora director: Canny tactics could expose Sagan’s weaknesses

Peter Sagan's trainer admits that the world champion may be tactically out-played at Milano-Sanremo by rivals with deeper teams.

SAN BENEDETTO DEL TRONTO, Italy (VN) — Peter Sagan could suffer if teams launch multiple attacks against him in Saturday’s Milano-Sanremo, says his Bora-Hansgrohe team.

Rock music blasts and signals Sagan’s arrival at the Bora team bus, but fans see little beyond the world champion. Rival teams recognize this, too. On Monday in Tirreno-Adriatico, Quick-Step attacked Sagan from different angles and weakened him for Fernando Gaviria’s stage win.

“We have other options if you look at our roster, we have good riders but probably not winners,” Sagan’s trainer and Bora sports director, Spaniard Paxti Vila told VeloNews of Milano-Sanremo.

“Of course, we’d like to have a team like Quick-Step, but we don’t. Still, we have to do the best with our team.

“If I was racing against Peter, for sure, then I’d try to do different stuff and try to mix him.”

Vila spoke as the speakers outside the Bora bus pushed tunes like AC/DC out harder and harder. The team’s other cyclists like Cesare Benedetti tried to concentrate while they prepared for their time trial around Italy’s coastal town, San Benedetto del Tronto. Sagan descended from the bus, climbed on his bike and pedaled away with his long hair pulled in a tight ponytail. Most of the crowd followed the 27-year-old Slovakian.

Vila is considering every option so that the double world champion can win Milano-Sanremo. Sagan, who won the Belgian monument Ronde van Vlaanderen in 2016, already placed second and twice fourth in the seaside town of Sanremo.

Sagan may have been duped by Quick-Step on Monday in stage 6, but he won the first sprint stage Friday and blasted away from grand tour cyclists uphill to win in Fermo on Sunday.

“That was his limit, and we knew that before his race. I told him, ‘It’s going to be hard, but it’s worth trying.’ You can think of it of just a pure training prospective, a big load that’s similar to a classics. We had two objectives together, going for the win and for the training effort,” Vila explained.

“He was upset with me afterwards, he said, ‘Are you playing PlayStation with me or what?! I was pushing him to the limit, but that’s something he needs if he wants to be ready for the big classics.

Sagan and Vila need to play the right game if Bora is to win Milano-Sanremo. When rivals attack on the Poggio climb with around six kilometers to race, Sagan cannot afford to follow and expect to also have energy to sprint if the race regroups.

“Sanremo is a tricky race. In the final, the speed is so high that you can’t just be one step above, but two or three, otherwise they will catch you with a Poggio attack. You have to see how we arrive to the Cipressa, and afterwards we will decide there if we will go right or left,” added Vila.

“We can look at the different scenarios, if this or that happens, this or that is the best, but in the end, he’s on the bike and must decide.

“I try to have those hypothetical answers, the logical solutions.

“It’s PlayStation? No, he’s an artist that you cannot play. He’s an artist on the bike. Just like the win of Flanders last year, that was so great. Let’s look to the artist and see what he produces in Sanremo.”