Over the weekend a rumour emerged, spurred on mostly by some comments from Bora-Hansgrohe team principal Ralph Denk, that Peter Sagan might soon be leaving the German squad for which he has ridden since 2016.
“We are very grateful for what Sagan has done for us. The sponsors have received a lot of attention thanks to him but he is entering the autumn of his career,” Denk was reported as saying in an interview with Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.
But where might Sagan actually go? He is understood to be one of the two highest-earning pros in cycling – with a reported salary of around €5 million a year. It would take a big investment from any team to cover those sorts of wages.
Van Gass issues rousing Paralympic rallying cry after thrilling Tokyo glory
- Sagan: 'I'll find a team that really wants me if Denk does not'
- Sagan may soon need a new team, says Bora-Hansgrohe team manager
- Will Sagan win another Classic?
The British team owned by billionaire Jim Ratcliffe is not, as the saying goes, short of a bob or two. They could certainly afford Sagan’s wages if they wanted to, but it’s hard to reconcile the fun-loving, laissez faire Sagan with a team that is all about the relentless pursuit of general classification victory. Indeed, it’s questionable whether Sagan would even get a ride in Ineos’ Tour de France squad given their myopic focus on the maillot jaune.
On the plus side, imagine the brand activation content Sagan could make crashing around the countryside in one of those monstrous Grenadier automobiles.
Deceuninck - QuickStep
An early front-runner, the Belgian super-squad was rumoured to be interested in signing Sagan, but that rumour was fairly decisively quashed by a tweet from team boss Patrick Lefevere.
It would be fun to see the self-styled Joker of cycling join the self-styled Wolfpack, but Lefevere’s MO has always been much more ‘moneyball’ than marquee signings. A move to Deceuninck would also see Sagan back on the same team as Sam Bennett, who only left Bora to get out from under the Slovakian’s shadow.
UAE Team Emirates
Alex Kristoff has carried UAE’s one-day ambitions for so long now that he must surely have a fused vertebrae or two – could it be time for Sagan to lighten his load? The team already has Matteo Trentin, to complement Kristoff’s mighty powers, but they probably wouldn’t blink twice at spending another €5 million a year of Emirati oil money if it meant they could win the yellow and green jerseys at the Tour next year.
One of the form squads of the year so far, thanks in large part to their bevvy of very fast classics guys like Jasper Stuyven and Mads Pedersen. In that sense, Sagan would be a great fit – but whether they actually need another guy like that, or would be better served investing in a pure sprinter like Caleb Ewan to diversify their winning options is less clear.
Ironically, it might be Sagan’s long-standing relationship with Specialized that puts the kibosh on this one. He has ridden Big S since his Tinkoff days and it is thought that any move to a new team would probably necessitate that team to change bike sponsor; something current Trek-Segafredo team owners, Trek Bicycles, is unlikely to be keen on!
Could it be that Ralph Denk’s comments were aimed at trying to bring down the price of Sagan’s next contract, rather than being serious about divesting the team of his prodigious talents entirely? You might think that, we couldn’t possibly comment.
Jonathan Vaughters certainly can comment, however, and he said the following on Twitter.
"Now that I’m one of the senior managers in pro cycling, often times people ask me who I respect as a fellow manager in the sport? A: Pat Lefevere and Douglas Ryder. This guy below [meaning Denk]? He forgets he wouldn’t have a WT team without Peter Sagan."
‘There will be riders who feel like they need to prove a point’ – Clancy previews Worlds
Paris - Roubaix
'Road to recovery has begun' - Van Vleuten riding again after Paris-Roubaix crash