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No KBK defense as Sagan goes all-in for northern classics

Peter Sagan will not defend his Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne title in 2018 in order to spend more time with his son before the season fully ramps up.

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ADELAIDE, Australia (VN) — If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

That’s the thinking inside Bora-Hansgrohe as the team plots the 2018 calendar for three-time world champion Peter Sagan.

Sagan will follow a familiar roadmap through the 2018 season, with three peaks focused on the northern classics, the Tour de France, and the world championships.

In fact, his schedule is nearly identical to what he raced last year. The only real wrinkle is that he will skip the Belgian classics openers at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the latter of which he won in 2017.

“The big goal is for Peter to be in top condition for the northern classics,” said Bora-Hansgrohe trainer Patxi Vila. “Peter already has a place among the best with his three world titles. Now he wants to win more monuments.”

Sagan debuts his 2018 campaign with an evening criterium Sunday and then with the six-stage Santos Tour Down Under on Tuesday. He hasn’t raced since his dramatic third world title in Bergen, Norway last September.

The 27-year-old Slovakian has already been in Australia for nearly two weeks as he’s taken advantage of the warm weather to prepare for the start of a new campaign.

“I hope it is good preparation for the coming season. It is time to make some race kilometers, and with some good weather,” Sagan said. “It’s a no-stress race, it’s very nice to start the season here.”

Vila said Sagan will skip the pair of Belgian classics to be able to spend more time with his new son, Marlon, born in October. Between a busy racing schedule and high-altitude training camps, Sagan wants to be able to spend at least a few weeks his new son at home.

After racing Paris-Roubaix, Sagan will take a short break before ramping up for the Tour de France. He’ll repeat his now-familiar schedule, with starts at the Tour of California and Tour de Suisse before a return to the Tour.

Sagan will take another short break following the Tour before preparing for the worlds in Austria. It’s unlikely he will return to the Vuelta a España, where he wasn’t raced since 2015. The past two years, Sagan has raced in a mix of shorter stage races and one-day races before the worlds.

Despite the heavy climbing course in Innsbruck, Vila said Sagan shouldn’t be counted out.

“The worlds are a special race. There is a lot of climbing, but it all depends on how the race unfolds,” he said. “It’s too far away to think too much about the worlds right now. He will be there, but first, we look to the classics and the Tour. Then we’ll make a plan for the worlds based on how things stand.”

Sagan’s 2018 schedule

Tour Down Under
Strade Bianche
Tour of Flanders
Tour of California
Tour de Suisse
Tour de France
— To Be Determined —
World championships