The rumor mill continues to churn.
Just days after reports that Peter Sagan may be out of favor at his current Bora-Hansgrohe team and on the move to classics powerhouse Deceuninck-Quick-Step, there are hints that the Slovak might be staying right where he is.
“Peter is part of the DNA of our team and he feels very comfortable with us,” Bora-Hansgrohe manager Ralph Denk told DPA Cycling. “His contract is running out and we are negotiating an extension,”
Denk’s statements Tuesday further muddies the water of an already unclear picture over the former world champ’s future as the Slovak works toward securing a squad for 2022.
Last week, Bora-Hansgrohe boss Denk had suggested that Sagan’s heavy salary-to-success ratio may see him riding out his final season after four years with the squad. Meanwhile, reports broken elsewhere suggested the 31-year-old may be open to a change of pasture, with Deceuninck-Quick-Step a logical destination.
Denk was quick to put the brakes on this speculation Tuesday, suggesting talks are still ongoing.
“You have to straighten out what has been speculated in the media over the past few days,” Denk said. “This [negotiation] will take some time, nothing has been decided and we will see how the outcome is.”
Deceuninck-Quick-Step manager Patrick Lefevere has likewise shot down the rumors, despite having previously suggested in his column for Het Nieuwsblad that he was interested in adding Sagan to his already deep roster.
“Amazing that the fantastic Ronde van Vlaanderen is not enough anymore journalist starting new fudge at Deceuninck-Quick-Step about Sagan,” Lefevere wrote on Twitter. “Sorry, you can play alone don’t call me.”
Lefevere and Denk’s separate rebuttals of the speculation came on the same day that Quick-Step confirmed a landmark five-year deal for its golden boy, Remco Evenepoel. The 21-year-old had also been linked to Bora-Hansgrohe just last month.
Though no details are apparent, the Evenepoel deal no doubt would have eaten deep into the coffers of Quick-Step, a team typically situated mid-pack in the WorldTour budgetary table. While Lefevere has seemingly secured his sponsor situation after recent talks with his two title sponsors, would there be room for Sagan and his salary of up to €5 million? He also has to balance the books to retain the services of leading WorldTour sprinter Sam Bennett, new cobblestone star Kasper Asgreen, and world champ Julian Alaphilippe, who is believed to control a salary of around €2.3m.
And where would Sagan want to go? He is currently riding his fourth season with Bora-Hansgrohe, a spell that has seen him win Paris-Roubaix, a world title, and two Tour de France green jerseys. So despite Sagan’s recent downturn in form, his German team clearly knows how to extract its money’s worth from its Slovak star.
There have been no hints of acrimony between rider and employer to date, though the recent wave of uncertainty over the relationship may weaken relations. Sagan was as evasive as ever when asked about his contract situation by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ahead of the Tour of Flanders last weekend.
“I have always said that Bora-Hansgrohe is like family to me and that I feel very comfortable here,” Sagan said. “But it’s not always just about feelings, it’s also about goals and how to balance them. We’ll see where that leads us.”
Where will Sagan end up in 2022?
Only time — and boardroom talks — will tell as Denk, Sagan, and possibly also Lefevere continue discussions.