COMPIEGNE, France (AFP) — Peter Sagan insisted his confidence for Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix had not been knocked despite a 16th-place finish at last week’s Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders).
The 24-year-old Cannondale rider went into last week’s cobbled classic as many people’s second favorite behind eventual winner Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing).
But he was unable to match the Swiss star’s acceleration on the Kwaremont climb 17km from the finish and played no part in the race for victory.
It was yet another chastening experience for Sagan on the northern cobbles, having failed to muster a challenge in the 2013 Paris-Roubaix despite being ranked among the favorites following a second-place finish in Flanders.
In this year’s edition, Sagan said, “many people can win, but I don’t know what will happen in the race because you need luck.”
“It’s my third time (riding Paris-Roubaix),” he added. “The first time I didn’t finish, the second time I was happy to make it to the end. This time I’m looking to gain experience.
“We’ll see how it goes, the favorites are always the same, that’s it. We’ll see how well I do tomorrow.
“I feel good. The race is always different every year. I look forward to tomorrow. It will be good. I’ll try to be on the front.”
As for his own victory chances, Sagan dismissed last week’s disappointment.
“One race was not very good but it’s still riding on the bike. I’m here for what? For a holiday or what?” he said.
“I just want to ride in the group and I will see during the race after the Arenberg Forest how it’s going.”
Sagan also said his poor showing in Flanders was due to other riders waiting for him to chase down Cancellara.
“After Cancellara went, all the others were riding around me (rather than chasing with him). At the end we all had the same legs and I couldn’t make the difference over the others, and I finished where I did,” he said.
“But it’s always good experience, it’s a race where I can improve. It’s a very interesting race for me and I want to do well. It’s a race I’ve ridden twice but it didn’t go well.
“But I’m 24 and I’ve got my whole future ahead of me.”