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Bora boss: Sagan ‘ready to learn’ from past Sanremo mistakes

Saturday's edition of Milano-Sanremo should see Peter Sagan contend for his first victory in the 291km monument.

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Peter Sagan is more mature and ready to learn from his mistakes in Milano-Sanremo, says his Bora-Hansgrohe team ahead of the 2018 edition of the monument Saturday.

The three-time world champion will head a team with Daniel Oss, Marcus Burghardt, and Maciej Bodnar.

“We all learn from our mistakes and experiences,” Sagan’s coach and team sport director Patxi Vila told VeloNews.

“We all grow up and are better normally in our professional careers, hopefully. This year’s Peter is different from last year or two years ago. He’s more mature, one year older.

“He’s in his third year in the rainbow jersey, and I can tell you that’s a big university.”

The 28-year-old Slovak won the world championship race in 2015, 2016, and 2017. He has won eight stages in the Tour de France and the points competition five times. In 2016, he bagged his first monument title at the Tour of Flanders.

Often, his placings make more headlines than his wins. In the 2015 Tour, he was second five times and third twice, but he never won a stage. In the recent Tirreno-Adriatico, Sagan registered three second-place finishes.

In Sanremo, Italy’s seaside town near France known for its casino and annual music festival, he has been unlucky so far with two runner-ups and two fourth-place results.

“You need to race it to understand it well and to know what’s going on,” Vila added. “In all the big classics, that’s the same. The good thing in Milano-Sanremo is that the parcours is almost always the same. From there, you can learn a lot just by racing.”

Sagan held on for the sprint but lost to Gerald Ciolek in the snowy 2013 edition. Last year, he attacked free on the climb to Poggio and pulled away from Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) and Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors). He finished second to Kwiatkowski in the sprint.

“The last couple of years it goes down to a sprint of different-sized groups. In modern cycling it’s hard, it’s hard to go from the Poggio, I think the last time was Paolo Bettini,” Vila said. “The speed is so high you need much more energy to drop a group than before. It would be hard to get a solo victory, but perhaps from a small group.”

Fabian Cancellara won with a solo attack from 3 kilometers out in 2008. Vila thinks that is almost impossible for Sagan because “Peter’s wheel is probably the most followed one of the bunch.”

At the team’s hotel in Italy this week, Bora’s staff and Sagan are reflecting on past editions and planning a strategy for the 291km classic.

“We all agree that Peter is not a predictable guy in racing. He follows his instinct a lot,” Vila said. “We will see in the situation. We will preview different scenarios, but until we are down the Poggio, it’ll be hard to decide.”