Bouhanni & Sagan: feeling the heat of expectations

Signed for a new team on a much larger salary? Then the pressure to perform is immediate as Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) are finding out as they seek their first victories of the season.

Maybe their luck will change in this week’s Tour of Oman, where both enjoyed their best results back in 2013.

Nacer records first 2013 victory on stage 6 in Oman (image: Lloyd Images/Muscat Municipality)

Nacer records first 2013 victory on stage 6 in Oman (image: Lloyd Images/Muscat Municipality)

Interviewed in this week’s L’Equipe, Bouhanni said he felt he was only at 80%, his train was still finding its feet (or wheels) and he was aiming to peak for Milan-San Remo, not the Middle East. Despite this, Bouhanni will be aiming for a stage victory. Apart from a third place on the last stage in Qatar, Bouhanni was largely anonymous in the second of the desert races. Another stage victory will maintain his record of a victory within his first 12 days of racing at the start of a season. In previous years, he’s won a race in his first three days, apart from 2013, which was the 12th day, in the Tour of Oman. To maintain this record, he needs to win this week.

Second consecutive victory for the Velvet Samurai on 2013 Tour of Oman stage 3 (image: Lloyd Images/Muscat Municipality)

Second consecutive victory for the Velvet Samurai on 2013 Tour of Oman stage 3 (image: Lloyd Images/Muscat Municipality)

Sagan, meanwhile, had the satisfaction in Qatar of picking up the white jersey of best young rider (yes, he still qualifies); second place on two stages and runner-up in the points competition. All while helping teammate Maciej Bodnar finish second overall. In the past three years, he’s opened his account with a stage victory in the tour of Oman. Will he be able to do it against this year? We shall see.

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