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Tour de France

Bora boss: Challenging Sagan decision was ‘for all of cycling’

Bora-Hansgrohe still seeks vindication for Sagan's early expulsion from Tour. Bodnar redeems team with stage 20 time trial win.

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Peter Sagan’s boss is still steamed at the UCI.

After the Tour de France’s final stage in Paris, Ralph Denk, general manager for Bora-Hansgrohe, told VeloNews that he still believes the UCI botched its decision to disqualify Sagan in the wake of his controversial collision with Mark Cavendish on stage 4. Denk believes the UCI jury was too hasty in its decision, and in doing so, violated its own rules.

The jury never asked Sagan to present his side of the story.

“I wanted the UCI to follow the rules and to have a hearing from the athletes. In this case, that was Peter,” Denk said. “Nothing happened, and that’s why we decided to fight against it.”

Denk is referencing rule 12.2.006, which states, “The Commissaires Panel may judge the matter only if the offending party has had a chance to defend his point of view or if, being present when summoned, he fails to respond.” Denk said Sagan was never asked to testify to the UCI jury before it decided to remove him from the race.

That’s why Denk decided to challenge the ruling with a rushed appeal the Court of Arbitration of Sport. On July 5 CAS delivered an express decision on the matter, which upheld the UCI’s ruling.

“We have a responsibility to challenge [the ruling]. I think we have a responsibility for all of cycling,” Denk said. “Each sponsor puts in millions in the teams. So we need clear rules for situations like this.”

Sagan’s expulsion was one of two disasters to strike Bora early in the race. The team’s GC rider Rafal Majka crashed on a slippery descent during stage 9 and later abandoned. With both star riders sidelined, Bora had to refocus its efforts around new goals. Denk said the team began to target stages, and ride in support of 25-year-old German rider Emmanuel Buchman.

The pivot in focus presented serious challenges. On stage 11 Polish rider Macej Bodnar looked poised to win after a 200km breakaway. The peloton caught him within sight of the finish line. Bora missed the day’s 54-man breakaway during stage 18 to the Col d’Izoard and was forced to ride the front alongside Team Sky.

“Morale was low — it was deep underground and we had to reset the team,” Denk said. “The guys were all here to support Peter and [Majka].”

Bora pressed on. Buchman rode aggressively in the Alps, pulling himself up to 15th-place overall. The young German notched his country’s best GC result since Andreas Kloden in 2012.

The team then scored its biggest result of the Tour when Bodnar won the final time trial in Marseille. That win, plus Sagan’s stage victory on stage 3, brought Bora into rare company at this year’s Tour de France. Only four teams won two or more stages at this year’s Tour: Bora-Hansgrohe, LottoNL-Jumbo, Quick-Step Floors, and Sunweb.

“We win two stages,” Denk said. “So all is fine for us.”