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Team TotalEnergies hopes to become one of the kings of the classics this season.
Team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau believes his newly Peter Sagan-centered team can take it to the likes of Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl in races like the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in 2022.
“For the Flandrien classics, we are in the three or four best teams in the world,” Bernaudeau said in a team video.
“With [Edvald] Boasson Hagen, [Niki] Terpstra, [Daniel] Oss, [Maciej] Bodnar, and leaders like Anthony Turgis and Peter Sagan, we cannot go without the ambition to win. For example, in Paris-Roubaix, we will race to win Paris-Roubaix. That isn’t necessarily what will happen, but we will be active.”
Sagan’s arrival heralds a new dawn for the second-tier TotalEnergies setup.
Specialized Bikes and Sportful clothing joined Oss, Bodnar and a host of Sagan’s closest staffers in following the Slovak from Bora-Hansgrohe this winter.
Berneaudeau hopes that the full refurbishment of a squad with its roots at the turn of this century will be enough to promote them to the WorldTour in 2023.
“Ahead of this 2022 season, there is a kind of excitement,” Berneaudeau said. “The arrival of Peter, with his kindness, his charisma, and his fully integrated group makes us very excited. We feel that something is happening.”
Berneaudeau lured Sagan to his team this winter with the promise of full team backing and a loose leash that would help him refind his winning mojo after several seasons spent spinning his wheels.
The veteran manager hopes that a reinvigorated Sagan will have the magic to match the “big three” of the classics when he’s joined up with TotalEnergies riders like the aging cobblestone crusher Terpstra and young talent Turgis.
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“We’re not in business, we’re in sport. Cycling is a sport of intuition, and Peter has often done improbable things,” Berneaudeau said.
“For two years, we have seen what is happening in cycling. Alaphilippe, van der Poel and van Aert have been racing with panache, and we are going to enter the era where the intelligence of the riders and the power of a collective are going to make the difference. Peter wants that and he knows that I am like that.”
First things first, Sagan has to return to training after his second bout of COVID in 12 months.
After that, conquering classics and taking his team to the WorldTour can follow.