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Peter Sagan has reached an agreement to ride for Tinkoff-Saxo in 2015, according to a report in Thursday’s edition of Gazzetta dello Sport. The Slovak’s contract with Cannondale expires at the end of this season, and Gazzetta reports that the deal will see Tinkoff-Saxo ride on Cannondale bikes from next season.
Sagan had been linked with a possible move to the new team that Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso will establish in 2015, but was also in talks with Astana, where he would have been reunited with former Liquigas teammate Vincenzo Nibali and former trainer Paolo Slongo.
Gazzetta reports, however, that Astana were unwilling “to put an offer of €4 million on the plate,” while Alonso’s squad is yet to announce a title sponsor for next season.
Tinkoff-Saxo’s budget, meanwhile, has been significantly bolstered by Oleg Tinkov’s purchase of the team this winter, while Sagan’s agent, Giovanni Lombardi, is close to manager Bjarne Riis, having raced under the Dane at CSC.
According to Gazzetta, Cannondale will cease to sponsor its WorldTour team in 2015, and will instead bring its reported €6.5 million budget with it to Tinkoff, where it will be technical supplier and – perhaps – second sponsor to replace the departing Saxo Bank.
Tinkoff-Saxo are currently equipped by Specialized. Alberto Contador, who has a contract with Tinkoff in 2015, is also tied to a personal contract with Specialized, but Gazzetta claims that “an agreement to rescind the deal could be found.”
In October of last year, Oleg Tinkov had been in discussions to purchase the Cannondale team, but ultimately pulled out of talks and reached an agreement to buy Riis’ WorldTour licence.
“We were close," Tinkov told Cyclingnews of his talks with Cannondale in December. "They're good people but the thing is that I wanted to own a team 100 percent but there I would have owned like 40 percent. I would like to be the boss, the owner of the team."
It remains to be seen what will become of the Cannondale team in the absence of its title sponsor and bike supplier. Only eight riders – Moreno Moser, Elia Viviani, Alan Marangoni, Kristijan Koren and the neo-professionals Davide Villella, Davide Formolo, Alberto Bettiol and Matej Mohoric – hold contracts with Roberto Amadio’s team for 2015.
The Cannondale Bicycles company is the owner of the WorldTour licence, which it will no longer need if it joins forces with Tinkoff, with Gazzetta speculating that Amadio, Fernando Alonso and Sojasun – currently a technical supplier to the Cannondale team – are among the potential buyers.