After Bora-Hansgrohe boss Ralph Denk cast doubt over Peter Sagan’s future with the team, the two parties hoping to decide the Slovakian’s future by the end of the month, EF Education-Nippo manager Jonathan Vaughters has criticised Denk for his comments, saying the German wouldn’t have a WorldTour team without the three-time world champion.
“Now that I’m one of the senior managers in pro cycling, oftentimes people ask me who I respect as a fellow manager in the sport? Answer is Patrick Lefevere and Doug Ryder. This guy below [Ralph Denk]? He forgets he wouldn’t have a WT team without Peter Sagan,” Vaughters said.
“Peter is entering the autumn of his career…the outcome of our conversations is open…I don’t dare say which way things are going,” Denk said earlier in the week.
“We are very grateful for what Peter has meant to us. The sponsors have received a lot of attention thanks to him, but he will be entering the autumn of his career.
“We also have to consider whether we still want to pay for that, or is it better to invest that money in youth? If Peter doesn’t stay, I have a lot of money available. The sponsors trust that I can put together the best possible team with the money.”
Sagan, who is reported to earn €5 million a year with Bora-Hansgrohe, responded to these comments in an interview with Cycling News, saying at 31 he doesn’t feel old or that he’s in the autumn of his career, and that if Denk no longer wants his services he’ll more than happily go and find a team that does.
“I’ve been busy racing so I haven’t yet sat down to talk with Ralph, so my future has still to be decided,” Sagan said. “I’ve had some great years at Bora-Hansgrohe but if Ralph sees me as past my best then that’s his opinion. If he thinks he doesn’t need me to win races for the team, I’ll be the first person to try to find a team that really wants me.”
Denk has listed Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert, Tadej Pogačar, Egan Bernal and Julian Alaphilippe as the current “five iconic professional cyclists… [and] I would be a bad team boss of I didn’t want one of these superstars in the team, but it has to fit,” before adding “at the moment I don’t see any of these with us in the near future, because there are existing contracts or because the philosophy doesn’t fit.”
Rumours had been swirling last month that Denk had inquired on behalf of Bora owner Willi Bruckbauer of the possibility of signing Remco Evenepoel, Patrick Lefevere alleging in his regular Het Nieuwsblad column that the Germans thought the easiest way to do this may be to buy the entire Deceuninck – Quick-Step outfit.