Peter Sagan (Cannondale) aims for another classic win after missing out in Milan-San Remo last weekend. This week he races in E3 Harelbeke, Ghent-Wevelgem and of course, the Tour of Flanders.

“We are not going to overlook this race, Piccolo Fiandre,” Stefano Zanatta told CW. “We can’t just take it easy here and rest. Here, Sunday and next Sunday, we are going to race to win with Peter.”

Zanatta organised papers in the team car and stepped out for a chat ahead of the E3 Harelbeke today in Belgium.

Fans gravitated towards the buses of home teams Omega Pharma and Lotto, and Fabian Cancellara’s team RadioShack bus. However, in the green bus parked up front prepared perhaps the brightest star.

Zanatta has been following Sagan since he won in the 2008 mountain bike World Championships. He saw him through his debut year in 2010, his rise and confirmation last year in the Tour de France. Given the steady progression, a Milan-San Remo win seemed almost natural.

Ciolek under-valued

Cannondale played its cards correctly on Sunday in Italy. Damiano Caruso and Moreno Moser worked to get Sagan in the winning move. Once there, Sagan suffered with all the attention on him.

Sagan had to chase down attacks by Luca Paolini and Cancellara, while also keeping enough in the tank for a sprint. He apparently underestimated how much he would need to take on eventual winner, Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka).

“He started the sprint too soon, but you also have to figure he worked so much in the last five kilometres to close the gap to be able to have a chance a sprint. It was not guaranteed with those guys that it was going to be a sprint,” Zanatta continued.

“Sagan knew [Ciolek] was fast, but he under-valued him a little. He didn’t have the time to take it all in, go back and have a look.

“He gets upset if he loses a card game, so you can imagine with San Remo. I said, ‘Peter, this is all experience, another step ahead to mature.’ Two years ago he arrived 17th, then fourth last year and now second. I told him to turn the page and think about the next races.”

Next races

Sagan stepped out of the bus and into the cold air while Zanatta talked. He signed several autographs and rode away to the start line.

“You can also see that Sagan is beatable,” added Zanatta. “He has his ways of winning: solo, in a sprint, an attack… He’s not like Vincenzo Nibali, who has to arrive alone, or like Mark Cavendish, in a sprint. Ciolek showed that you can beat him. Sagan’s a favourite, but not the number one.”

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