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Report: Peter Sagan linked to deal to join Deceuninck-Quick-Step

Media reports suggest Peter Sagan could join Deceuninck-Quick-Step in high-profile transfer.

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Peter Sagan could be heading to classics powerhouse Deceuninck-Quick-Step.

That’s according to a report in French sports daily L’Equipe, that reported of a possible transfer.  A key piece to the move would be connections between Specialized, Sagan, and the Belgian WorldTour team.

The three-time world champion is off-contract with Bora-Hansgrohe at the end of 2021.

Speaking to the Belgian daily Het Nieuwsblad, team boss Patrick Lefevere said there may be interest in Sagan, but denied there have been any formal negotiations so far.

“Not a word has been said about him yet, so I can’t say much about it,” said Lefevere, adding a caveat that there is interest. “Yes, according to my conditions.”

Last week, Bora-Hansgrohe owner Ralph Denk hinted that Sagan could be out the door, suggesting that the 31-year-old Sagan is at the “autumn” of his career.

“We are currently in talks with Peter,” Denk told German newspaper Kölner Stadtanzeiger. “The outcome is still open, and we hope for a decision in April. We are very grateful for what Sagan has done for us, but he is entering the ‘autumn’ of his career. And he is one of the best-paid professionals in the peloton. We have to weigh that up: do we still want to afford it, or is it better to invest the money in youth?”

Also read: Peter Sagan on racing Tour of Flanders without fans

Those comments have created a fissure, L’Equipe reported. Speaking to last week, Sagan said he would search for a new team if Denk wasn’t interested in his services.

Sagan remains among cycling’s highest-paid athletes and one of the most popular riders in the bunch. The L’Equipe story, which only reported a possible transfer and did not cite any firm talks, suggested that any bad blood between the Sagan camp and Lefevere could be patched over.

Any hint of a transfer to Deceuninck-Quick-Step is sure to raise expectations.

One question would be Sagan’s salary, estimated to be $5 million per season. Last week, Lefevere said the future of his team remains unsettled, and he commented that the team’s budget remains in the middle of the WorldTour hierarchy, suggesting the veteran Belgian manager won’t have a huge amount of money to court Sagan and his entourage that also includes a few favorite riders.

Also read: Patrick Lefevere still working to secure team’s future

Though Sagan sometimes complained of the media demands that come with superstardom, the Slovakian has suggested in recent interviews that he still has the drive and ambition to continue racing for at least a few more seasons.

“I still want to race. I still love racing,” Sagan told La Gazzetta dello Sport last fall. “Everything changes. No one is the same as they were a decade ago, and it’s the same for racers, too.”

Sagan is coming off a bout of COVID-19, and won a stage at Volta a Catalunya before finishing 15th at Tour of Flanders on Sunday. With Paris-Roubaix rescheduled for October, his next major goal is a return to the Giro d’Italia, where he won a stage in October in his lone victory in 2021.