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Bora-Hansgrohe: ‘We are not interested in Froome’

Team boss Denk confident in homegrown talent, warns that coronavirus could see shrinking budgets and salaries across the peloton.

Bora-Hansgrohe has patiently been building up its stable of promising German talent, and is not interested in pursuing Chris Froome.

That’s according to team boss Ralph Denk, who said Tuesday that despite being on solid financial footing, his team is not entering in a possible bidding war for the four-time Tour de France winner, who is off-contract at the end of 2020.

“We have our philosophy and he’s not our guy,” Denk said. “We have some good young GC guys, and we want to keep developing them. It is not our intention to sign a former Tour de France winner right now.”

Denk’s comments come as speculation ramps up about Froome’s future. The Ineos rider is one of the top names in the peloton that is seeing his current contract conclude this season. Froome, 35, has hinted he might switch teams going forward, but considering larger economic issues impacting team budgets across the peloton, his options might be limited compared to a normal year.

Other teams, such as Bahrain-McLaren, NTT Pro Cycling, and Israel Start-Up Nation, have been linked to Froome, but Denk emphatically took his team out of the running.

Denk also confirmed that Bora-Hansgrohe is among a group of teams that so far has not been forced to reduce wages or cut jobs, but warned that riders and teams across the peloton could be facing reduced salaries and budgets as the impact of the coronavirus continues to play out across the wider world economy.

“The impact could be big,” Denk said of the coronavirus pandemic. “I think sponsors are committed to cycling, but I could see teams with less overall budgets, not just in cycling, but in all sports. We will have to manage with less budget.

“All partners have stayed to their agreements so far, but you never know what will happen,” Denk continued. “We have paid all staff members and riders as we agreed in our contracts … It’s been good so far, but you have to think about second and third [quarters], and it’s much harder that we can get [sponsor contract] extensions in the same volume as we have now.”

Denk also said all teams are losing money via appearance fees and contracts with race organizers since the racing shutdown in March, a number he estimated to be a “few hundred thousands euros” for his team alone.

“We can manage this budget gap from some reserves from the past few years,” he said. “It’s not a perfect financial situation, but we can finally look forward to the race season.”

Denk described the wider transfer market right now as “interesting” and said that he’s going to wait to see how the marketplace develops in the coming months before committing to signing new riders.

In the meantime, the team’s immediate focus is on returning to action after three months of shutdown. The team is holding its first training camp since racing stopped in March, and has riders and staff spread between two hotels in Austria, with one group sleeping at 2,000 meters, and another on the valley floor at 1,400 meters. Denk confirmed all riders and staffers were tested for the coronavirus before being able to join.

“We will wait to see how the situation develops in the coming months,” Denk said of new recruits. “We are happy with the young guys we are developing.”

Denk has a bounty of young talent that he and his staff have been patiently nurturing in the shadow of Peter Sagan, who joined the team in 2017. Sagan remains on contract through 2021. In the meantime, Denk is watching with pleasure as such homegrown talent as Emanuel Buchmann, Pascal Ackermann, and Maximilian Schachmann are flowering as superstars in their own right.

“Looking back at Manny’s progress, nobody had the mind that he could scratch so close to the Tour podium,” Denk said of Buchmann, fourth overall in last year’s Tour. “The next step is the podium, then we’ll see. We are relaxed and taking it step by step.”