Peter Sagan's unfortunate disqualification from last year's Tour de France means that the Slovakian will have the bit between his teeth to try to win stages and reclaim the green jersey. That disqualification cost him dear: it meant being unable to make it six years in a row that he won the jersey, so he can't waste any time if he wants to rack up five wins in a row again, and then exceed it.
If it looks to be all about Sagan, that's because it is. Oh, and Rafal Majka. The 2014 and 2016 'King of the Mountains' winner will be looking to improve drastically on his 27th overall at the 2016 Tour, but whether Majka can do that with minimal climbing support remains to be seen. Gregor Mühlberger and Pawel Poljanski will be doing their best. Winning another KoM title is well within reach, however, and if Majka's attack on the GC fails to ignite, that and stage wins will no doubt keep him and the team happy, especially if they can claim a few stage wins through Sagan, too.
Sagan will have the full support of the other members of the squad – Maciej Bodnar, Marcus Burghardt, Daniel Oss and Lukas Pöstlberger – and no doubt from Mühlberger, Poljanski and Majka, too, on any hillier stages on which he's chasing green-jersey points, or indeed stage wins.
It's a harmonious, hard-working squad that should produce a stage victory or two, and quite likely bag the green jersey for Sagan. Stages are most likely from Sagan and Majka, of course, but don't discount Pöstlberger on the more undulating days, or even Oss or Burghardt for stage 9 from Arras to Roubaix on the cobbles – if Sagan gives them the green light. A high overall finish for Majka will be a bonus.
Bora-Hansgrohe's Tour de France team
Name: Peter Sagan
Position: Team leader/sprinter
Experience: Six Tours started, five points jerseys, eight stage wins
No real introduction needed, except to say that the world's most popular rider takes on more of a traditional sprinter's role at the Tour de France, with the added ability to be up there to score points towards the green jersey on stages that 'normal' sprinters could never be in the mix on. The world champion will be as popular as ever with the crowds at the roadside and with the armchair fans at home, and will be looking to make up for last year's Tour when he was controversially sent home early for his tangle with Mark Cavendish on the fourth stage.
Name: Rafal Majka
Position: Climber/GC rider
Experience: Four Tour starts, three stage wins, and King of the Mountains winner in 2014 and 2016, but best overall finish only 27th, in 2016
Just like Sagan, Majka joined Bora-Hansgrohe from the now defunct Tinkoff team. The two riders' riding styles and abilities may be like chalk and cheese, but their relationship is a good one, which makes co-existing in an eight-man Tour squad, in which they both have ambitions, easy. Mountain-man Majka will be somewhat of a lone horse in the highest of high mountains, but he doesn't seem to mind.
Name: Maciej Bodnar
Position: Domestique/time triallist
Experience: Has done five Tours, and won the final time trial last year
Time trial specialist Bodnar will provide a bit of extra grunt on the third stage team time trial, during which Bora-Hansgrohe will be looking to limit the losses of Majka with his designs on a high overall finish. Bodnar will be working hard all Tour for both Majka and Sagan, but he'll fancy his chances of again winning the final time trial – the only individual TT kilometres of this year's race – just like he did last year on stage 20 in Marseille.
Name: Gregor Mühlberger
Experience: First Tour, but has ridden each of the Giro and Vuelta once
Mühlberger's all-round abilities make him the man to help both Sagan and Majka anywhere and everywhere. Look out for him to make his mark on the gravel sections of the Plâteau des Glières on stage 10 between Annecy and Le Grand Bornand: Mühlberger was 10th at this year's Strade Bianche, so he knows how to ride the hilly rough stuff.
Name: Pawel Poljanski
Experience: Riding his second Tour de France after finishing 80th overall on his first attempt in 2017
Poljanksi is one of those riders capable of winning races but who hasn't actually scored any victories in five years as a pro. Results this season include 20th overall at the Tour de Slovenie, 35th at the Tour of California, 55th at Romandie, 59th at Catalunya, 29th at Paris-Nice… Top, consistent, GC results that have helped cement the 28-year-old Polish rider's place on Bora's Tour squad. A close second on a stage of the Vuelta a Espana last year to compatriot Tomasz Marczynski may spur Poljanksi on to try to finally get that win at the Tour, should he be given an opportunity when not in Majka or Sagan's service.
Name: Marcus Burghardt
Experience: Veteran of nine Tours de France, with a stage win in 2008
Burghardt turns 35 the week before the Tour, officially giving him elder-statesman status, but the big German will relish a road-captain role in France. A Classics specialist, Burghardt will be one of Sagan's right-hand men for stage 9 on the cobblestones between Arras and Roubaix – not that this year's Paris-Roubaix winner will really need help. Sagan will, however, benefit from Burghardt's burly presence throughout the Tour.
Name: Daniel Oss
Experience: Has ridden, and finished, five Tours de France
Oss joined Bora-Hansgrohe from BMC Racing during the off-season, and went straight into his team leader Sagan's service at the Tour Down Under to help build a working relationship that has endured. Like Burghardt, Oss is a Classics man, tasked with looking after Sagan during the spring races, and he'll now replicate that role at the Tour. Oss has helped the last two winners of Paris-Roubaix to win – Greg Van Avermaet with BMC in 2017 and Sagan this year – so expect the 31-year-old Italian to be ever-present by Sagan's side during the cobbled ninth stage to Roubaix.
Name: Lukas Pöstlberger
Experience: Rides his first Tour de France, but won the opening stage of the only other Grand Tour he's ridden – last year's Giro d'Italia
A medium-weight climber who can also time trial and hold his own in the Classics, 26-year-old Pöstlberger would be an asset to any squad. The Austrian may only have one Grand Tour ride under his belt – last year's Giro d'Italia – but what a debut it was, with Pöstlberger finding himself off the front of the race with just a couple of kilometres to go on the opening stage, with the bunch in disarray following a crash. He brought it home, taking the stage win and the pink leader's jersey. A repeat at this year's Tour would be welcomed, but he'll be expected to work for Majka much of the time.
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The 2018 Tour de France starts on July 9 and concludes on July 29 in Paris. Cyclingnews will have complete live coverage from the race, as well as race analysis, blogs, video highlights and podcasts from the team on the ground.
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