Road

Peter Sagan to bring superstar swagger with a French flavor to Team TotalEnergies

TotalEnergies want Sagan to retain rockstar appeal and ‘regain instinct and freedom' while successfully integrating to traditional French squad.

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How to harmonize the star swagger of Peter Sagan with the twenty-year tradition of Team TotalEnergies?

That’s the challenge for the Slovak star and his new French team in 2022.

But don’t worry. Sagan’s wheelie-poppin’, sponsor-friendly, beyond-bike charisma won’t be tamped down in a team rich in history and national identity next season.

“We like it and we welcome this [Sagan’s] character,” team sport director Benoît Génauzeau told Belgian broadcasters RTBF this week. “It is always based on a fair balance between the show and the performance. The two are not opposed, far from it. Moreover, Sagan has demonstrated that throughout his career.

“We want to keep that aspect of the rider within our team. We’ve never had a rider like Peter, but we had an iconic guy like Thomas Voeckler who still gave off something, and appealed to the public.”

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The second-division TotalEnergies team is committed to avoiding becoming “project Peter” next year.

Despite welcoming Sagan, a swath of his closest on- and off-bike wingmen, and long-time partners Specialized and Sportful in 2022, the staffers and riders are predominantly French, and official communications remain in the national language.

Génauzeau said that the team’s decision to bring Sagan and his whole support crew to the fold was a move that would be beneficial for both sides – and presumably was a non-negotiable in the contract talks.

“He is someone who needs a close and trusting environment,” Génauzeau said. “This is why we made the choice to welcome him with some of his teammates and some members of his staff so that he finds himself in a known and trusted environment. Now, the challenge for us is to succeed in integrating him into the whole team.

“We want to continue cultivating the soul of the team, with our way of doing things and our instinct. And we want to get in tune with Peter to achieve, together, great things.”

Sagan’s move to TotalEnergies comes loaded with both possibilities and risks next year, and hitting the harmony Génauzeau describes will be vital.

The Slovak is looking to throw fuel onto a flame that has stuttered in recent seasons. Although Sagan is still amassing grand tour and WorldTour wins, he’s a shade of his former triple world title-winning best. And with his 32nd birthday looming large, time is ticking against him.

And TotalEnergies will have poured top dollar into Sagan and Co.’s two-year deal. The squad is looking to break into the WorldTour in coming years, and the huge profile and winning potential of “three-Peter” is their key to unlocking that door.

Also read: Sagan to feel the pressure in TotalEnergies’ WorldTour target

As they say, “a happy racer is a good racer.”

TotalEnergies is hoping the fresh wind of a new environment after five years at Bora-Hansgrohe will blow Sagan back to the top in 2022, and that he’ll tow the team along for the ride.

“I see his arrival as an aid to the development of our team project. We are counting a lot on his arrival to do great things together. We want to keep our identity and coming to us, I think Peter wants to regain his instinct and a certain freedom,” Génauzeau said.

“Now, maybe the trick is to find some new spring. There can be a form of weariness when you stay for many years on a team. Our challenge will be to find him and bring him novelty, small levers to help him again accomplish very great things.”