DÜSSELDORF, Germany (VN) — Bora-Hansgrohe paid a lot for Peter Sagan to join the team over the winter — some say around $4.5 million — but the German team says that he is worth every penny for publicity reasons.
After signing Sagan, the team upgraded to the WorldTour division. With the long-haired Slovakian world champion leading the charge, it debuts as a top team in the Tour de France on Saturday in Düsseldorf.
“It’s been nearly 10 years now since we started as a small cycling team. It’s really a nice moment for us,” German team manager Ralph Denk told VeloNews.
“Sagan’s also an expensive cyclist, but he’s the cyclist that brings the biggest return of investment for our sponsors.”
The rumors ran around the press room this time last year that Bora had signed Sagan for 2017 from Team Tinkoff, which was folding.
It confirmed the deal on August 1. Sagan joined for three years, through 2019, and agreed to an estimated €4 million ($4.57m) annually.
“We don’t talk about the budget,” Denk added, looking over to his champion cyclist.
Sagan posed for photographers and sent a special message via video to his Taiwanese fans. His jokes, stunts on the bike, and victory salutes keep interest high.
In one recent Specialized video, he did donuts his Dodge muscle car, its tires kicking up pink smoke. His bike was on the roof, but fans loved it all the same.
“Being standard is not enough to get coverage, you need to be special, and Peter is special,” Denk said.
“Standard is not enough. I have the numbers. A middle-ranked WorldTour team and one of the best teams, there’s a huge gap. That’s why our sponsors put much money in our team to have Peter. That’s why our sponsors put in the money to have Peter.”
Peter Sagan won immediately in his Tour debut in 2012. He collected the green points jersey at the end of that Tour and kept going. He now has five consecutive points competition wins.
If he wins a sixth green jersey this year, he will match the record set by German Erik Zabel in the 1990s.
“I don’t think about that, I just go my way,” explained Sagan earlier in the press conference. “I am doing my career — I don’t worry much about the riders.”
The Tour this year offers plenty of opportunities for Bora-Hansgrohe’s top star to win and put its kitchen and faucet brands in the spotlight. From Düsseldorf to Paris, the route includes seven flat sprint stages and four mixed-mountain stages for Sagan.
“I’ll try to do my best for sure, like in life, if you want too much, you can lose a lot,” Sagan said. “I’m not hungry for everything, but for sure, I’ll do my best.”
“Eleven stage wins? For sure that’s not going to happen,” Denk added.
“Each year, it is more and more difficult for him. Being a two-time world champion and five-time green jersey winner, everyone looks to him.
“The sprinters are looking to him if they are hungry for a stage win and the competitors of the green jersey look to him. So it’s not easy for him.”