Trainer: Sagan in prime position for worlds

Peter Sagan withdrew from the Vuelta in stage 14, but his trainer says he is in a perfect spot to perform well in the world championships

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

MILAN (VN) — Peter Sagan (Cannondale) lacks the results like he had in 2013, but his trainer said that after the Vuelta a España, he is in a perfect spot for the upcoming world championship road race.

“He’s pretty relaxed after using the Vuelta as preparation for the worlds,” Sebastian Weber told VeloNews. “It’s good for him that he didn’t have a spectacular result because that would’ve increased the pressure on him and got more people talking about him as a favorite.”

As a favorite in 2013, the Slovakian placed sixth on the Florence worlds circuit. The result followed up his best season yet with 22 wins.

He has suffered a slight drought this season with only seven victories, his lowest total since he turned professional in 2010. He did, however, win his third straight points classification title at the Tour de France this year.

A top-form Sagan would be able to crush his rivals as he did in the 2013 Gent-Wevelgem or in E3 Harelbeke earlier this year. He has the ability to attack, break his rivals, and out-sprint the remaining ones. Or when needed, like in Gent-Wevelgem, he can ride away solo.

The worlds circuit in Ponferrada, Spain, gives Sagan plenty of options with two small climbs per circuit and a descent of around 5 kilometers to the Castile and León city. The race will be contested on the final day of the UCI Road World Championships, on September 28.

Still, followers are scratching their heads and wondering if “the Saganator” already has his mind on 2015 and his new contract, which is worth a reported $4 million per year, with Tinkoff-Saxo. Besides the green jersey, his last wins came via the Slovakian national championships and a Tour de Suisse stage in June. He rode to third in the Vuelta’s eighth stage and fourth in the 12th stage, but abandoned in stage 14 and closed his second grand tour without a stage win.

It appears that strong finishers John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), who won four times in the Vuelta a España, and Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), winner of both Canadian one-day races in Quebec and Montreal, are bigger hopes for the rainbow jersey in Ponferrada.

“I don’t think he lacks an edge without winning lately,” Weber continued. “If he wins, it’s not going to get any easier for him because who will want to ride with him to the finish line in the worlds? Then, if you are not fast enough to out-sprint the pure sprinters on the flat stages like in the Tour, what chance do you have?

“In the Vuelta, he was happy to not be the sprint captain of the team. It was the team’s decision not to work for him in the sprints in the first week. That’s not because he was out of shape, but because he wanted to give something back to riders like Guillaume Boivin or Oscar Gatto, to help them get a contract for 2015.”

Cannondale is closing its team and the backers will sponsor Jonathan Vaughters’ Slipstream squad in 2015, but around 10 riders remain without contracts. Weber said that he may continue with the new Slipstream version of Cannondale, but first he needs to think about the worlds. He is busy training the Germans, his home riders like Tony Martin, and Cannondale’s cyclists.

“Peter is really focused on the world championship, he would really like to win the rainbow jersey,” Weber added.

“It was a big work to get him in the Vuelta team because had the team continued, it could’ve really used points and it would’ve been better for him to go to the Canadian races and get those points. He wanted to go to the Vuelta with an eye on the worlds. He’s serious.”

Trending on Velo

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.