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MILAN (VN) — Peter Sagan says it has been “too long” of a year for him, but it has been a successful one. Sunday’s victory at the European Championships was the most recent entry on his season log.
Since winning the world championships last September in Virginia, the Slovakian has been going at top speed in his rainbow jersey. Those 12 months included his first monument win at the Tour of Flanders, a fifth consecutive green jersey at the Tour de France and Sunday, the European title.
“I’m tired, I did a lot in this season,” Sagan told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “It’s impossible to repeat, one off, but it was truly long. I started in January, the worlds is October 16, and so I say it’s too long.”
Sagan counts 11 wins since his rainbow victory in Richmond. It is not his most successful year, but his biggest in terms of the quality of victories.
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Critics, including team Tinkov owner Oleg Tinkoff, suggested Sagan was paid too much and prepared too little after failing to win the big one-day races. So much had been made of the 26-year-old after his rocket-like rise through 2013, when he placed second in Milano-Sanremo and the Tour of Flanders). After a lull, though, he came through.
In the last 12 months, he won the worlds title and, thanks to that win, he was able to storm clear in the rainbow jersey in the 100th edition of Flanders. He won his fifth green jersey in France, but this time he collected three stage wins along the way instead of zero as in 2014 and 2015.
The European Championships followed his GP Quebec win and runner-up in GP Montreal. For the first time, the organizer ran a professional category.
“It was a special race, this European Championships. It was the first, and I wanted to be first on the list,” Sagan added.
“If the course was the one that they had planned in Nice [moved because of the terrorist attack in July – ed.], I would’ve not been suited for it. It would’ve been too hard. But this was perfect, I couldn’t miss it. So the European Championships became an important objective. I did it for my country, it’s an honor.”
Sagan collected the blue Euro jersey and left immediately for the Eneco Tour, which starts Monday in the Netherlands. He will not wear the blue jersey because the rainbow jersey ranks higher. Assuming he does not repeat his worlds feat in Doha next month, he could start the 2017 season with a special twist on the jersey of new team Bora – Hansgrohe.
First, though, Sagan is plowing through the remainder of 2016 with the seven-day Eneco Tour and the worlds.