Peter Sagan had high hopes ahead of this season, and his win at E3 Harelbeke certainly did nothing to dampen those expectations. But the Slovakian star’s tactical gamble at the Ronde denied him, once again, the chance of a first career Monument. At Milan-San Remo he benefitted from superb support from his team-mates but could not finish the job at the end of a tough 297km of racing. At E3 Harelbeke, he did it by attacking without his team-mates.
But at the Ronde, his decision to wait for support – wary of the punishment dished out by Cancellara last year after the Slovakian’s big shift – backfired. Once bitten, twice shy the saying goes, but while he has clearly learned from last year, he instead left another window of opportunity open for his rivals. Greg van Avermaet took advantage to attack, Cancellara bided his time before accelerating on the Kwaremont again and Sagan was left to pursue them in vain. At 24 years of age, his chance will no doubt come. But for now at least, his experienced rival appears to have the upper hand.