Team Cannondale say Peter Sagan's power numbers were the same as last year, he just couldn't hold on to Cancellara when it mattered.

Peter Sagan’s power numbers may have read the same as last year, but team Cannondale said he lacked the legs and confidence to win the Tour of Flanders this time around.

“When he saw that he was dropped he probably lost a little bit of morale. Morale is important,” team manager, Roberto Amadio explained. “[There's] No need to make drama out of it.”

last year Sagan was the only rider able to follow Fabian Cancellara on the climb of Oude Kwaremont, although he then lost ground over the top of the Paterberg. This year he wasn’t able to stay with Cancellara when he launched his race winning move on the infamous cobbled climb.

Cancellara’s sports director told Cycling Weekly they thought the Kwaremont, with its flat cobbled section at the top, could be Sagan’s weak point and decided to attack him there. The Slovakian only trailed by only 11 seconds at the top but was unable to bridge to his rivals and found little collaboration in his group with Tom Boonen and Sky’s Geraint Thomas.

Sagan arrived to the finish in Oudenaarde, where he placed second last year, 1-25 minutes behind Cancellara, in 16th. It was clear the 24-year-old had a hard day on the Flemish roads. He looked at his bike when he arrived to Cannondale’s green and black bus, complained about the front derailleur to a staff member and pushed away a fan asking for a photograph.

He refused to speak to the press and the team press officer said that he would not come off the bus for comment. In a short press statement four hours later, Sagan said, “It’s never easy to comment on a disappointing result. … I did not perform as I wanted in a key moment.”

Given the expectations on him to win, he might have been disappointed to finish 16th. Or it could have been the lack of team support in the final kilometres, compared to Omega Pharma with its four men.

“Support? He was a little bit on his own but Cancellara was too,” Amadio added. “He lacked something in the final.”

Amadio sat shotgun in the team car with former professional, Mario Scirea directing the riders and driving. Scirea agreed with his boss.

“His legs were what they were, he missed something on the Kwaremont,” Scirea told Cycling Weekly outside the bus where Sagan waited to leave. “We knew that Cancellara could do something there, but we couldn’t follow him.

“It tells you that Cancellara and Vanmarcke had something extra. Peter was on the same level as the others, he was right behind but he didn’t have that extra something to remain with Cancellara.”

The team’s head trainer, Sebastian Weber confirmed that Sagan came to the race fit. With the bus driver honking to take away Sagan, Weber had to explain quickly.

“There’s been this rumour that he’s not as good as last year, but the numbers tell a different story. I don’t know where that information comes from, but as far as the data is concerned, that’s not the case,” he told Cycling Weekly. “He’s about the same level as last year, some levels are a little bit stronger and some are equal. But he’s at least not worst than he was last year.”

Weber left and the bus took Sagan back to the team’s base in Kortrijk. Before taking a break to re-focus on the Tour de France, he races the Scheldeprijs on Wednesday and four days later on Sunday, Paris-Roubaix.