DE RONDE: Is Peter Sagan's new team holding him back?
Double world champion Peter Sagan is the bookmakers favourite to win a second successive Tour of Flanders (De Ronde) title this weekend.
At the end of last season, Sagan secured himself a lucrative contract at newly formed team Bora-Hansgrohe.
Now, after a string of frustrating results, people are starting to wonder if Sagan has sacrificed effective teammates in favour of a big pay day.
However, Flemish cycling journalist Carl Berteele believes that Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe teammates contribute to his success far more than people give them credit for.
He said: “I don’t think he has a weak team.
“There’s lots of work from the teammates that we don’t see on television. In the first 150 kilometres those guys are working for him, protecting him.”
Sagan has often been criticised for trying to do too much by himself and not utilising his teammates in the closing stages of a race.
Although this has meant that the Slovak has probably missed out on a few victories that should have been his, it is for this reason that he is loved and revered by cycling fans all over the world.
In addition, Berteele does not think Sagan’s isolation in the last 50 kilometres will hold him back at Sunday’s De Ronde.
He said: “Yes, he is alone, but [Greg] Van Avermaet is alone, [Sep] Vanmarcke is alone, [Phillippe] Gilbert is alone, so what’s the problem?
“It’s guy against guy. The riders on the highest level against each other so I don’t think that’s a problem.”Carl Berteele: I don’t think he has a weak team.”
Sagan has given several bristly interviews in recent weeks, complaining that other riders are sacrificing their own chances of success in order to prevent him from winning.
Last week at Gent-Wevelgem, Sagan had some choice words for Quick-Step Floors rider Niki Terpstra for not doing his fair share of work.
"I don't know what Terpstra wanted to do, because he attacked to go in the breakaway and after he doesn't want to work. This is just one example of how you can lose the race against me.”
“It's not sport. This is just, I don't know, a very cheap game.”
Sagan vowed to use his frustration as an advantage, and says that losing races motivates him to keep improving.
The Sports Gazette has two journalists in Flanders for De Ronde and you can follow all of our coverage on Facebook and Twitter.