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by Shane Stokes
August 1, 2016
Photography by Kristof Ramon
Bora-hansgrohe’s long-stated plans to move up to WorldTour level have received a massive boost with confirmation that world road race champion Peter Sagan will compete with the team from 2017.
Specialized, which has had a successful partnership with Sagan this year on the Tinkoff team, has announced that it has signed a three year agreement with the German squad. As part of this deal, all of the riders will use the company’s bikes, helmets, shoes, tires and Roval wheels.
Significantly, Specialized’s agreement has played a major part in Sagan heading to the squad. He is rumoured to have a salary of six million euro per year, and it seems likely the American company will pay a significant chunk of that.
It has said that he will use the company’s road and mountain bikes ‘this summer and in seasons to come.’
Specialized previously helped pay the wages of Alberto Contador, who will leave the Tinkoff team at the end of the season. He is rumoured to be heading to Trek-Segafredo and the end of his partnership with Specialized will free up cash for Sagan and Bora-hansgrohe.
“Peter is a very special athlete, not only because of his great charisma and desire to use his platform in cycling to raise awareness for larger issues of the world, but also because he simply loves to ride his bike,” states Specialized Founder and CEO Mike Sinyard. “From road racing, to cross-country, to fun riding on the Turbo Levo pedal-assist, Peter does it all.
“Everyone at Specialized shares Peter’s love of all-things-cycling and we could not be more honoured to continue our partnership with him, into the future.”
Separate to the Specialized announcement, Bora-hansgrohe has provided further details. It has confirmed that Sagan’s signing is for three seasons, thus running until the end of 2019, and named a core of riders who will accompany him in the transfer.
These are his brother Juraj Sagan, Maciej Bodnar, Michael Kolar and Erik Baška.
Team Manager Ralph Denk is, as expected, upbeat about the development. “It is a great honour to welcome one of the most popular cyclists of our time in our team. That’s why we tried to provide familiar surroundings as far as possible,” he said.
“I think Peter’s trust in us proves that we did a good job the last years and have solid reputation in the peloton. Our partners Bora and hansgrohe are also two big German quality brands. This combination convinced Peter that we are the right team for him and his chase for even more successes the next years. I am very happy and sure that this partnership will be a successful one.”
Sagan has had a superb season, winning the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem, netting three stages plus the points classification in the Tour de France, and also taking two stages apiece in the Tour de Suisse and the Tour of California.
He is currently leading the WorldTour classification and has been one of the most impressive world champions in recent years.
His agreement to race with Bora-hansgrohe is a significant boost to the team’s chances of securing a WorldTour licence for the 2017 season and beyond. It should prove to be similarly decisive as Mark Cavendish’s signing was for Team Dimension Data’s own step up to the top ranks.
Slate Olson, Chief Marketing Officer of Specialized, said that the company was committed to the new direction.
“We are excited and honored to partner with BORA – hansgrohe as they make the step up from Pro-Continental to World Tour,” he said. “It’s a big step forward for the team, and for the sport of professional cycling. The team’s signing of Peter Sagan is a real show of force and demonstration of their expectations for the years ahead.
“With the Tour de France starting in Dusseldorf next year, the timing could not be better for this German-based international team to rise up to the World Tour level.”
Both the Tinkoff team and IAM Cycling are exiting the peloton at the end of the year, freeing up two WorldTour licences.
Today’s news adds greatly to Bora–hansgrohe’s prospects of taking one of those two slots. However Hansgrohe SE CEO Thorsten Klapproth isn’t happy with just being one of the top teams; he has named a bigger goal, namely becoming the number one team in the world.
This suggests a very considerable financial commitment, and one which Denk says will see further key signings. “My goal is a well-balanced roster for the 2017 season. With Peter the Classics will be a big highlight for us,” he explained. “But we also want to play a role in the Grand Tours, therefore we still look for new signings.”
He added that further announcements of signings will be announced in the near future. Rafal Majka is another Tinkoff rider who is rumoured to be heading to the squad.