Bora-Hansgrohe enjoyed their WorldTour debut with a podium place at the Tour Down Under, and although world champion Peter Sagan missed out on a stage win, team manager, Ralf Denk, was encouraged by the team's overall performance.
The German team invested heavily in bringing Sagan and his entourage to the team for 2017, and while they also signed several other riders to bolster their then Pro Continental ranks, the obvious attention was focused on the capture of the Slovak rider.
At the Tour Down Under, Sagan rode in a number of roles for his new team. He sprinted for stages, became a leadout man when it was required, and positioned teammate Jay McCarthy at several key points in the race. The fact that the Australian went on to claim a podium spot in the general classification owed much to the work of his team, and notably Sagan.
"All the WorldTour races are big goals for us," Denk told Cyclingnews ahead of the final stage on Sunday.
"The big goal this season is winning the Green Jersey in the Tour but also trying to go top five with Leopold Konig at the Giro, and then the top five with Rafal Majka at the Tour de France. We want to also win a Monument.
"We also have a young German Emanuel Buchmann, who I think is a good contender for the next few years. We're not just a one-man team. We have Majka, Konig and other riders who can create results. See at this race we have Jay McCarthy and Sam Bennett, who can both produce results. It's not just a team of three big guys."
Denk's work over last year, first to sign Sagan, and then merge the old and new factions at the team was no easy task. However, with a two-time World Champion Sagan on the books the task became somewhat easier. Every rider on the team knows that they have an exceptional leader in the ranks and one that they must support at times. Sagan's generosity - not a new side to his character – in riding for others will have warmed Denk and helped bond what is still a team in the fine-tuning process.
"The hardest part for me as a manager is the period between the last race and the next race," Denk told Cyclingnews.
"Everything is about organising and we have a lot of new sponsors on board and new bikes. Now it's about the little things but we're on the right track.
"Peter brought some guys with him, not just riders but also a mechanic and a physiotherapist. In the end it was easy to integrate. The team is now a team.
"We have young guys in the line up, like Gregor Mühlberger and Lukas Pöstlberger. They are young but did an excellent job, guided by Peter. That's a massive motivation for them to have Peter on the team."
One rider who linked up with Sagan for the first time at the Tour Down Under was Sam Bennett. The Irish sprinter came close to winning a stage, but like every other sprinter at the race he was no match for Caleb Ewan.
Denk confirmed that the Irishman is set to miss the Tour de France this year and instead ride the Giro d'Italia.
"I'm happy with Sam's shape here. It's not decided on his full programme, but it looks like he is more [focused] towards the Giro."
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