Peter Sagan will ride Milan-San Remo for the last time in his illustrious career on Saturday, still dreaming of success in the Via Roma and with few regrets about the many times he has gone close to victory.
Sagan’s palmares is laden with Classics victories, sprint victories, three world titles and a record seven Tour de France points jerseys. But Milan-San Remo has always escaped him.
“Milan-San Remo has always been a race that suits me but has always been a difficult race for me to win. But I’ve got one chance left to win it,” Sagan told Cyclingnews and other media present at Tirreno-Adriatico.
This year’s race will be Sagan’s 13th participation in the longest, most finely balanced Classic on the calendar. He has finished second twice in the last decade and fourth an incredible five times. He has nine top-ten finishes, with his worst result coming in 2022 when a mechanical before the Cipressa left him chasing all the way to San Remo.
The near misses have often left Sagan saddened or even revealed some rarely seen anger. He knows he should have won that famous, shoulder-to-shoulder sprint against Michał Kwiatkowski and Julian Alaphilippe in 2017, and he could have won on a number of other occasions, including the legendary 2013 edition that was raced in the snow when Gerald Ciolek beat him in the sprint.
“I haven’t managed to win Milan-San Remo for a lot of different reasons and because every year is a different race,” Sagan explained.
“Perhaps a teammate up the road, other times perhaps I underestimated my rivals or I had a mechanical. That’s cycling, things happen.
“Losing in 2017 hurt a lot, I admit it. I felt really strong that day, but they told me information from the team car that was wrong, so I made a bad tactical decision. But as I said, Milan-San Remo is decided even in a split second and you don’t get a second chance to win.
“Milan-San Remo is also special in that sense, there so much you can’t control. If you’re the absolute strongest at the Tour of Flanders, you can win quite easily.
“Milan-San Remo is more of a lottery and everything is decided in the last five kilometres, so there’s no real time to correct any errors you make or to turn things around if you have a mechanical or a problem. Milan-San Remo is all or nothing.”
One last season for the fans
Sagan has enjoyed an…
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