Denk: Bora will be more than ‘team Sagan’ in 2017

Bora – Hansgrohe manager Ralph Denk emphasizes team's wealth of talent beyond newly signed star Peter Sagan

Photo: TDW

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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Bora – Hansgrohe made headlines this transfer season signing world champion Peter Sagan for the next three years, but the manager says, “It won’t simply become team Sagan.”

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Team manager Ralph Denk brought his German team through the ranks starting with NetApp in 2010 and this summer, courted the 26-year-old Slovakian. It will be a big change because Sagan will bring along seven teammates from the disbanding team Tinkoff and for the first time, Denk’s squad will be racing in the top WorldTour division.

“The group of riders [from Tinkoff] is there, but for sure, my goal and job is to create a team, not just the Bora team and the Sagan team,” Denk told VeloNews. “I want to create a team, team Bora – Hansgrohe, that’s my job.”

Sagan will lead the team through the classics and probably to stages in the Tour de France. Denk explained that his team has the arsenal to fire elsewhere.

“Is it all about Peter? No. We have other goals in the grand tours, Leopold König and Rafael Majka, they can perhaps podium in some grand tours,” Denk added.

“We also have Emanuel Buchmann, he’s the most talented German GC guy. He’s young, 24 [this month], but one year ago he was the national champion. This year, he was 21st in the Tour de France. He has a great future ahead of him. It’s my goal to develop him.”

Sagan’s showman style of riding wheelies and dancing like John Travolta in a mock Grease video is like none other in cycling.

“Sagan is just at another level, the current world champion and wins around 20 races a year,” said Scott Thwaites this summer. He is leaving for team Dimension Data to ride the classics.

“Everything changes when he comes to a team, it revolves around him. Unless you are a climber then you are pretty much going to be a worker for Sagan.”

The Professional Continental Bora team featured some good riders, like Sam Bennett and Emanuel Buchmann, but no major stars this season. Bennett had the special honor of winning the Tour’s lanterne rouge for finishing last, mostly due to a crash in stage 1 and a fractured finger. However, over the years, the 26-year-old Irishman has hauled in results for the growing German team. This season, he won Paris-Bourges and a stage in the Critérium International, and out-kicked Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) to win a Giro della Toscana stage.

“Sam brought the team success over the last three years,” Denk explained. “I will honor this and give him freedom in the races where Peter is not racing.”

“It’s not just Bennett, I have Matteo Pelucchi [from IAM Cycling], Pascal Auckamann [neo-pro] … some fast guys and many races. We’d like to win with other guys, not just Peter.”

Denk’s team is “on track” and ready to handle the extra load as it rolls into 2017 with a WorldTour license. With it comes the right, but also the requirement, to race in the top 27 WorldTour races like the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, and all the big classics.

“For sure, it’s much easier to [step up from the second division] rather than doing everything from scratch like Bahrain – Merida,” Denk explained. “We already have the race-proven structure. For sure, we have to improve our structure, but it’s not a big difference for us. We prepared the team, I’m optimistic because we’ve created a solid structure.”

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