Bora’s 2018 goals: Monument win, grand tour top-five, TDF green

Peter Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe team laid out ambitious goals for the coming season at its 2018 team presentation Thursday in Schiltach, Germany. After what he described as “a tough season with lots of ups and downs,” team manager Ralf Denk said his squad aims to win one of cycling’s five monuments, win the Tour de France’s green jersey competition, place a rider in the top-five overall at a grand tour, and finish the year top-five in WorldTour rankings.

“Last year was a big step up for us and it’s almost impossible to make everything right from the beginning,” Denk added. The past season was the outfit’s first year in the WorldTour after six years as a Pro Continental team. “During the winter, we will work on a lot of performance projects, aerodynamics, training, nutrition. I feel we can do better than we did this season and everybody in the team is focused on improvements.”

Although Denk rues Sagan’s 2017 misfortunes — the crash at Tour of Flanders, the flat tires at Paris-Roubaix, and the disqualification at the Tour de France — Bora earned 33 UCI victories. Its riders combined to win one stage in each grand tour. Sagan won an unprecedented third consecutive world championship title.

The team’s lofty 2018 goals rest primarily on Sagan’s shoulders. The 27-year-old will be the man to win a monument race, perhaps Flanders, where he was victorious in 2016. Or, he could go for Roubaix redemption after the rough pavé foiled his 2017 campaign.

Sagan is also a shoo-in to win his sixth green jersey at the Tour, barring catastrophe, which would tie Erik Zabel’s record in that classification.

To finish top-five in a grand tour, Bora will likely look to Poland’s Rafal Majka.

“It was the first time I tried to go for the GC in the Tour de France this year. Obviously, it didn’t work out as planned for us,” Majka, 28, said. He crashed heavily and later withdrew on stage 10.

“The Tour showed why it’s the hardest race in the world to be won. But I want to try again next season, I never surrendered in my career, cycling is always about getting up on your feet again.” In 2015, Majka showed his potential in grand tour GC, finishing third at the Vuelta a España.

If Bora-Hansgrohe can achieve its first three goals, or at least get a few more big wins out of Sagan, it will likely secure its fourth and final objective of a top-five WorldTour ranking. It ended 2018 eighth out of 18 teams.

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