Peter Sagan (Cannondale) will return to Paris-Roubaix in 2014 after a two-year absence with victory at the top of his agenda as the Slovak star targets total domination of the cobbled Classics.
Sagan won Gent-Wevelgem last season and was runner-up to Fabian Cancellara in E3-Harelbeke and the Tour of Flanders, but has skipped Paris-Roubaix for the past two years after riding the Hell of the North as a neo-pro in 2010 and 2011.
Now Sagan is targeting a ‘grand slam’ of cobbled Classics victories in 2014 in a bid to emulate Tom Boonen, who became the first rider to win E3-Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the same season in 2012.
And Sagan also wants to go one better at Milan-San Remo, where he was runner-up to surprise victor Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) in this year’s snow-hitedition.
But the Cannondale Pro Cycling rider is under no illusions as to the magnitude of the task before him, having struggled at Paris-Roubaix in his first two years as a professional.
“I’m very happy to have the chance to return to ride the Paris-Roubaix,” he said. “It’s a unique race, hard and unpredictable, and this is why it intrigues me.
“I think it’s a race in which it’s important to have experience and luck, as well as to have a feel for it. Riders such as Cancellara and Boonen, for example, are specialists for Roubaix and they have a lot of experience, much more than me.
“I can only ensure that I’ll give one hundred percent to have the best result I can. I’ll plan time with the team to test the pavè when we’ll be close to the race because racing Paris-Roubaix takes a different way to race compared to the other races.
“For me, it will be just a new and exciting challenge.”
Among Sagan’s support cast at the Classics will be Oscar Gatto, Maciej Bodnar, Kristijan Koren, Ted King, Paolo Longo Borghini and Alan Marangoni, while the 23-year-old is also planning to add a third Tour de France green jersey to his collection in 2014.
The plans for the team in green’s 2014 season were discussed and outlined at the team’s pre-season training camp in Tuscany.
Also targeting big victories in 2014 are two-time Giro d’Italia champion Ivan Basso – who will lead the team’s GC ambitions when the race rolls out of Belfast in Friday May 9 – and sprinter Elia Viviani who will co-lead the team as he targets stage victories.
Viviani’s season starts at the Tour Down Under in January, but the Italian ace will return to the track in February ahead of the World Championships before his preparations for the Giro begin.
Cannondale have also predicted 2014 will represent a big year for 23-year-old Italian Moreno Moser, who will ride alongside Sagan at Milan-San Remo before leading the team’s Ardennes Classics charge. Moser will also ride at a Grand Tour, but a decision is still to be made on which one.
Finally, Damiano Caruso will lead Cannondale’s GC ambitions at the Tour de France, with Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo and the Ardennes Classics all on his agenda beforehand.