Analysis: Bora-Hansgrohe jumped into the big leagues in 2022 after GC pivot
The German team enjoyed its best season ever in 2022 after its bet on stage races and grand tours paid off.
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Bora-Hansgrohe filled out its 2023 roster Tuesday after confirming the arrival of French multi-tasker Victor Koretzky.
Koretzky is the latest rider to leave the B&B Hotels team that seems doomed, and Bora Hansgrohe picked him up to complete its 2023 roster that looks very similar to its breakout 2022 squad that won the Giro d’Italia.
The 28-year-old Koretzky will have the freedom to continue to race mountain bike as well as gravel as the team moves firmly past the Peter Sagan era.
“We have already presented ourselves off-road in the past, but with Victor’s signing we are now taking on this theme more strategically,” said team boss Ralph Denk on Tuesday. “In our sport, it is becoming increasingly important to be present over a variety of terrains, especially with a partner like Specialized.
“Together we can offer Victor a perfect platform both on and off road. The plan is for him to continue racing in the MTB World Cup, but he will also do a slimmed down road race program.”
- Why Jungels will fit in at Bora Hansgrohe
- B&B Hotels facing uncertain future
- How Bora Hansgrohe evolved into a grand tour powerhouse
The Frenchman is the fourth and final rider to join Bora-Hansgrohe for 2023. Others coming on board include Bob Jungels (Ag2r Citroën), Nico Denz (DSM), and Florian Lipowitz (Tirol KTM).
Pivoting away from the Sagan era
Bora-Hangrohe enjoyed its best season ever in 2022 after its bet on stage races and grand tours paid off with the franchise’s first grand tour win at the Giro d’Italia with new recruit Jai Hindley.
Bora finished fourth in the men’s UCI WorldTour rankings, just behind the “Big Three” of Jumbo-Visma, UAE Team Emirates, and Ineos Grenadiers. That’s the team’s best overall end-of-season ranking since its founding.
The team profited from a dramatic pivot after 2021 when it cut loose Peter Sagan and most his entourage that included a half-dozen riders and several staffers.
Sagan carried the team new heights when he joined in 2017, but after five seasons with the German-backed team, he and his troupe headed to TotalEnergies on a three-year deal in 2022.
Filling the Sagan void in the classics and green jersey fronts, Denk and Co. put a deeper emphasis on stage racing and grand tours.
The three key signings of Aleksandr Vlasov, Sergio Higuita, and Hindley paid off handsomely.
Hindley won the franchise’s first grand tour at the Giro, where Hindley beat back a challenge from pre-race favorite Richard Carapaz and Ineos Grenadiers to become Australia’s first Giro winner.
Higuita was consistent across 2022, even if the Colombian faltered a bit at the Vuelta a España, he won the Volta a Catalunya, took second at the Tour de Suisse, and hit top-5s at Il Lombardia and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Vlasov seems destined for bigger things after COVID-19 and crashes tamped down his full potential in what was otherwise an excellent 2022. He won the Volta a Valenciana and the Tour de Romandie but was forced out of Paris-Nice and Tour de Suisse with illness.
The Russian revealed his true colors in the Tour, riding to a hard-earned fifth overall despite recovering from a COVID infection in June and crashing early in the race.
A healthy Vlasov will have the team swinging for the Tour podium in 2023, with Hindley returning to defend pink in the Giro.
Jungels will see more opportunities
For 2023, the team sees four arrivals and four departures, with its roster set at 30 riders.
Leaving riders include Wilco Kelderman (Jumbo-Visma), Felix Großschartner (UAE Team Emirates), Martin Laas (Astana Qazaqstan), and Lukas Pöstlberger (BikeExchange-Jayco).
📢 NEW RIDER SIGNING 📢
BORA – hansgrohe secures late transfer, as @KORETZKYVictor completes the squad for 2023.
Read more here 👉🏼 https://t.co/14C6Ydbfgd
📸: @sprintcycling pic.twitter.com/dJVAAY5HFk
— BORA – hansgrohe (@BORAhansgrohe) December 6, 2022
Of the new arrivals, a revived Jungels is hoping to get back to his pre-illness best that saw him as a consistent rider across the classics and stage races.
Also for 2023, the team will be hoping for a revival from sprinter Sam Bennett and a step up from classics rider Nils Politt. Lennard Kämna was back on track in 2022, with a stage win at the Giro and a top-20 overall while supporting Hindley.
A host of riders will be off-contract in 2023. It will be interesting to watch who stays and who leaves as the German team continues its slow but steady progress toward the top.