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DENIA, Spain (VN) — There’s a different jersey and a new sponsor with Bora – Hansgrohe, but things very much remain the same for Peter Sagan.
The two-time defending world champion was introduced to the cycling media Tuesday, but it was the same old Sagan. The hair is the same (though it was hard to tell with the man-bun he was sporting), the bike is the same (Specialized remains true to its marquee rider), and his goals are just as big.
“This is going to be a big adventure for all of us,” Sagan said. “The ambiance within the team is very good, and I almost feel like I have not changed teams. I don’t feel like a new guy. You still have to train on the bike, and pedaling; cycling is like that. The goals stay the same.”
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That means Sagan will target the spring classics, stages and the green jersey at the Tour de France, and perhaps an unprecedented third straight rainbow jersey.
The burning question will be if the team is big enough and strong enough to support the ever-ambitious Sagan across the entire season.
“This is a big moment for me and our team. It was also bit stressful, but we are working hard to bring our project forward,” team manager Ralph Denk said. “We are growing as an organization, growing from 40 to almost 80 employees, and I think this is necessary for this project.”
It’s not all about Sagan at Bora – Hansgrohe next season. Leopold Konig and Rafal Majka will provide some GC heft to the team’s ambitions in the grand tours, while Emanuel Buchmann hopes to continue on his progression as one of Germany’s top young talents.
Sagan’s move to the second-division (now WorldTour) team raised some eyebrows this year, but Sagan will now be the unquestioned leader of the squad. There will be no sharing the spotlight with Alberto Contador or Vincenzo Nibali. At 26, he’s at the height of his career, and he will have the full backing of the team across his season goals.
Denk said he has the backroom staff in place to support Sagan and race across a full WorldTour calendar. With the arrivals of new sponsors, he also clearly has the financial muscle to not only sign Sagan, but also Majka, Konig, and Marcus Burghardt among 13 new riders.
Key to convincing Sagan was Bora’s agreement to bring eight former Tinkoff teammates with him, including his brother Juraj and close friend Maciej Bodnar, along with some key staffers.
Sagan said choosing Bora was easy, and said the squad doesn’t “feel like a small team.”
“The reason was very easy, because this was the really one team who was interested in me. Everybody was just speaking, speaking, speaking, and didn’t do nothing,” Sagan said. “We met one time [with Denk], and the project went to the front. From there, it was very fast … then it was done. It was nice, because I like the people who just do not speak, but who are doing the things they want. I spoke with a lot of teams, but everybody was … blah, blah, blah.”