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Julich to train Sagan, with major classic as target

Peter Sagan feels pressure to deliver victory for Tinkoff-Saxo, and American Bobby Julich steps in to train the young star

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Peter Sagan begins a new chapter of his career in 2015 when he will suit up in a different jersey for the first time since turning pro in 2010 with Liquigas/Cannondale.

For the coming season, Sagan has clearly stated that a “big win” is the top priority in his move to Tinkoff-Saxo in a high-profile, three-year deal. In an interview with the Spanish daily MARCA, Sagan confirmed he will be working with Bobby Julich as his primary coach and trainer.

“I only know that from now on, my trainer will be Bobby Julich,” Sagan told MARCA. “He will be my third trainer of my career, after Paolo Slongo and, this year, Sebastian Weber.”

Can Julich do what others haven’t, tune Sagan’s mind and body for a “monumental” victory in the classics?

Julich, 43, is part of a major transformation at Tinkoff-Saxo for 2015, both behind the scenes and with the arrival of Sagan, arguably among the best one-day riders in the peloton. Julich joins Sean Yates and recently retired pro Nicki Sorensen on the team staff. Along with Sagan, Ivan Basso, Juraj Sagan, and Maciej Bodnar (all Cannondale), Pavel Brutt (Katusha), and Robert Kiserlovski (Trek Factory Racing) are all new additions to Tinkoff-Saxo.

Sagan recently got to know his new teammates in a team-building camp that included an assault of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. It’s obvious that owner Oleg Tinkov is pulling out all the stops to make the 2015 season even bigger than his entrée as outright owner of the team this season.

Speaking to MARCA in Israel at last week’s introduction of the Peter Sagan Academy, a cycling school, Sagan said his first goal is claiming victory in a major monument, something that’s so far eluded the prolific Slovak.

“The objective will be the classics. For me, the most important will be San Remo, Flanders, and Roubaix. After that, we’ll see what the team wants,” Sagan told MARCA. “I will start my season at Qatar and Oman; after that, we’ll see. I’d like to race the Tour de France. We’ll see what the team wants.”

It will be interesting to see how the team balances Alberto Contador’s desire to win another yellow jersey and Sagan’s ambitions to claim another green jersey.

Training Sagan will certainly be a challenge for Julich, who left BMC after one season to join Tinkoff-Saxo, the same team where he ended his pro racing career in 2008. During his time in the peloton, the American rode for general classification, winning Critérium International twice and Paris–Nice once. It remains to be seen how he’ll translate that experience into Sagan’s spring classics-heavy 2015 schedule.