CASTELLON, Spain (VN) — It is the blockbuster deal of the season. Reigning world champion Peter Sagan of Tinkoff joins Bora – Argon 18 in a three-year deal in a move that caught everyone by surprise.
When word first leaked that the German-based Pro Continental team had landed cycling’s biggest fish, no one could believe it. Bora? The team that only won one grand tour stage (in 2013 under the Net-App banner) or never a major one-day race, really? Yes, really.
VeloNews caught up with Bora manager Ralph Denk to get the inside story on how his unsung band of riders lured cycling’s biggest name.
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“It was proactive from our side. I talked to Giovanni [Lombardi, Sagan’s agent]. I know him for a long time because we raced together. After meeting Giovanni, then I met Peter, and from that point, things went very fast.”
“The reason that he signed with us is a strong personal feeling. I met with Sagan in Monaco, and we had some very good conversations. We had the same philosophy and sporting goals for the next few years. This was the main point.”
Strong sponsor backing
“I had a strong commitment with Bora. And that support made it possible to sign Sagan. After we signed Sagan, it became very easy to get together with Specialized. You have Sagan on board, and it is easy to find a second naming sponsor. Hansgrohe were very interested when they knew we had Sagan.”
“We were always a small team, not with a big infrastructure, but with a well-functioning infrastructure, and with a serious image and serious work. For sure, we have to grow a lot of our team when Sagan comes. We have to have hire more employees on each position. The main roots, from what I created a few years ago, remain that this is a German team.”
“I think Sagan is a big personality in the peloton, and I see him as the same level as Froome or Contador. In the past, the GC rider was always a bigger star. So for Sagan to have the same popularity as the GC star is impressive.”
Not just Sagan
“We have two goals, with the one-day classics, like the northern classics, and the other side, we have [Rafal] Majka, with some more big GC guys to go for the podium in the stage races. And for my personal point of view, it is important to develop young German talent.”
“Our goal is WorldTour. The final decision is up to the UCI. We have met with the UCI, and we have to fulfill the criteria. I am very optimistic when I look to the riders we have.”