Sagan’s Cannondale team: green but not great

Rumors are flying about the future of Cannondale Pro Cycling as Sagan struggles to win a Tour stage

Photo: Tim De Waele

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CHAMPAGNEY, France (VN) — Peter Sagan and team Cannondale hold the green jersey in the Tour de France, but things could be better. After one week, Sagan remains winless and the Italian team faces uncertainty in 2015.

“He’s good, we’ve shown that,” sports director, Stefano Zanatta told VeloNews. “It’s not since 1930 that a rider has finished in the top five in the first seven stages. That shows something’s going well, but he’s not making the difference, and it’s not easy for him to win.”

In his first two Tours, Sagan won the green jersey and a stage, or more, in the first week. In 2012, he won stages 1, 3, and 6. In 2013, he won stage 7.

Not since Frenchman Charles Pélissier in 1930, has a rider placed in the top five in the first seven stages. Pélissier, however, won stages 1 and 3, and five more in the last two weeks.

Sagan placed second in stages 1, 3, and 7. Had he won stage 1, all would have been forgotten and he would have had the yellow jersey as a bonus.

“It’s not great after he doesn’t win, that first half hour…” Zanatta continued. “If he made a big mistake or we weren’t able to close on an escape — like in the Arenberg stage when Kwiatkowski flatted and a gap opened — then after a stage like that, it’s not good. A half-hour later, though, after a shower and a chat, he’s OK. He knows that these things happen.”

Sagan, 24, has already won several one-day races, stages and points jerseys but a price has come with his expanding palmares. In the group, rivals watch him closely. When he moves, they follow. Or, if he breaks free, he has a harder time getting the others to collaborate.

“Maybe he has too much desire to win, maybe he doesn’t have the teammates with him up until the end … It could be that,” Zanatta said.

“For sure, if you get a group of 20 riders and you have two up front then it’s easier to manage the race and help Peter stay calm. If you’re on your own with 30 riders, who are racing against you, then it becomes difficult. We brought the best team that we could bring here, so we just have to accept it.”

As a result of his placings, however, Sagan has a strong lead in the points competition and looks ready to win a third green jersey when the race finishes in Paris on July 27. The green jersey could represent the last big win for Sagan and Cannondale.

Sagan is rumored to have already signed with Tinkoff-Saxo for 2015, though team manager Bjarne Riis would not confirm the transfer. Ivan Basso may also make the jump from Cannondale to Tinkoff.

Italy’s top team, in fact, has yet to sign any new riders for 2015 and is waiting for word from Cannondale’s top brass in America. The green light may not appear as Cannondale is expected to join Jonathan Vaughters’ Garmin-Sharp team as a sponsor.

“We don’t have a confirmation of continuing or that we need to find another team,” Zanatta added. “We just have to keep doing our work as normal.”

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