He has come second twice in his eight starts at the race. Those were times when he thought he would win “for sure.” He admits Milano-Sanremo has its own charm and requires time to learn and eventually master.
“Sanremo is a special race,” Sagan said at his bike sponsor Specialized’s event on the eve of the Italian monument.
“Sometimes you need to wait to win Sanremo. Maybe it’s not this year, then you have to try next year, and if it’s not next year … It’s like the world championship, you have to wait for your year.”
Sagan already won the world championship title three times. He counts wins at Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in his palmarès too. Something is odd, though, about the race that descends south from Milan to the coast in Liguria.
“Sanremo is not the same. Well, the world championships is also every year a different parcours, different country. Sanremo is always the same; the only things that change are the weather, your rivals, your shape in the race — a lot of things,” he said.
“I was already twice in Sanremo where I thought I’m going to win for sure. You see how it’s special, this race.”
More than learning, it will take the stars to align for the popular Slovakian cyclist. Instead of being overconfident, which may have cost him against Gerald Ciolek in 2013, he needs savviness and a sharp eye that could only come with age.
“It’s more a matter of consequences during the race, and luck, the right moments, timing, this kind of thing. Sometimes you can win the race and you don’t expect it,” the 29-year-old said.
“For sure” experience helps, he said. “When I feel good and I’m going to be in the front, or maybe I am bad and my options change, just to survive.”
Someone pointed out that Italian sprinter Mario Cipollini needed 15 years before he reigned on the Via Roma in Sanremo. Sagan shrugged and said, “Yeah, you see.”
Sagan’s fitness may not be at its best compared to other years. He began the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race last week after being sick with a bug that had give him diarrhea for six days.
“We will see. We still have one month of classics [through Liège-Bastogne-Liège], then after that, I’m going to tell you how I really felt during this period,” he added.
And if he does not win and waits yet another year to celebrate in Italy’s big one-day race? “A problem? Yeah, for somebody it’s problem. Well, I think in general, in the world, we have much bigger problems than winning or losing a race.”