German Pro Continental team Bora-Argon 18 confirmed that they plan to step up to the UCI's WorldTour in 2017 and that Bora-Hansgrohe will be the team name next year.
Hansgrohe, a bathroom company, will join as a secondary sponsor for an initial three-year period, the team confirmed at their pre-Tour de France press conference. The team, however, tried to distance themselves from reports that Peter Sagan would join the team in 2017, stating that the world champion was 'too big a rider' and too expensive.
"The final decision about the WorldTour is up to the UCI but in August we will present a strong roster to them, along with our budget. Then I hope that the UCI gives us the green light. It's a big goal for me as the manager of the team," said Ralph Denk.
Along with Sagan, the team have been linked with Specialized, the American bike manufacturer who are tied to the rider. Specialized coming on board with Bora would mean Argon 18 moving aside, and Denk admitted that changing bike sponsor could happen as the team are free to negotiate with bike brands if they move into the WorldTour ranks. However, he added that talks with Specialized had not yet taken place.
"We have a current contract with Argon but there is freedom if we move to WorldTour. I can't confirm at this moment about Specialized. If you go to the WorldTour then we have the chance to choose what we want. At the moment there has been no contact with Specialized."
With regards to riders, Denk said: "We've talked to a lot of riders and we know that teams are closing at the end of the year and that there are a lot of riders on the transfer market.
"There are a lot of negotiations and meetings but we have to wait for August 1st," he added, referring to the transfer window in which signings are allowed to be made official.
The rumours linking Sagan to the team first surfaced at the start of June but have picked up pace in recent weeks. Denk stated that although Sagan would fit into all the current WorldTour teams, the matter of budget was a significant hurdle. Sagan has been linked with a price tag of between 5-6 million Euros.
"At this point Sagan is too big a name for our team. From what I've heard it's huge money. For sure it would be a dream to have rider like him in the team but we'll see. From the beginning of August we can talk about riders but at the moment he's too big of a name. We've a serious budget but we're not sponsored by a Russian company like Tinkoff."
Denk did confirm that he had talked informally to Tony Martin's agent. Martin is out of contract at the end of the season and is riding the Tour de France for Etixx QuickStep.
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