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OUDENAARDE, Belgium (VN) — Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) complemented Team Quick-Step Floors at the finish of the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, but pointed his finger at rival teams for their lack of effort to stop Niki Terpstra’s solo win.
Terpstra rode free some 26 kilometers from the finish, on the heels of an attack by Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida). Behind, Sagan said that others were looking at him instead of working to stop Terpstra.
“I’m very happy about my performance, and also how the race finished,” Sagan said. “I couldn’t change a lot of things. I just could do my maximum and that’s the result.
“Look at E3 Harelbeke and here, Quick-Step controlled it all. They put all the teams into a spin. They have great riders, but they put us leaders in trouble because they open the race early and there aren’t helpers left to control the race.”
Bora-Hansgrohe had Daniel Oss pulling its world champion along the Flemish cobbles Sunday. The plan they say was to control the moves and ride for a small group sprint.
Quick-Step launched Philippe Gilbert early in 2017 and blocked from behind afterwards. Their plan was similar in 2018.
Zdenek Stybar tried a couple of times and Terpstra too, getting away on the roads leading away from the Kruisberg before the final climb of the Kwaremont and Paterberg.
“I think the season will still continue and it’s hard to race in my position in the group. Also, if the other riders don’t wake up, it’s going to be like this,” Sagan continued. “Quick-Step is a great team because they have many riders at a good level. They can play multiple cards.
“Quick-Step did a beautiful race, I just think that the other teams didn’t respect the situation and collaborate. It’s not just me that they need to beat. We are in [a peloton of] 200. In that respect, they were mistaken, I believe. Like this, Quick-Step will go and win all the races.”
Quick-Step began the race with leaders Terpstra, Stybar, Gilbert and Wednesday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen winner Yves Lampaert. They controlled the race early and began the attacks in the latter half at a point when the seven-man teams were running thin.
“I didn’t know what [Team Sky] wanted to do,” added Sagan. “If you take Michal Kwiatkowski as the leader in this race… I think that it’s a little mistaken to attack after the Koppenberg [with Dylan Van Baarle]. To open the race like that is too soon against Quick-Step.”
Sagan will stay in Belgium for the week, but not race Scheldeprijs. His next appointment, the last cobbled classic of 2018, is Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.