The German team were already among the strongest squads in the world when it came to the one-day race scene due to Sagan's success and the key acquisition of Daniel Oss for the start of the 2018 season, but they have recruited wisely ahead of the coming campaign with veteran Oscar Gatto joining from Astana, while Jempy Drucker and all-rounder Maximilian Schachmann have signed from BMC Racing and Quick-Step Floors, respectively.
Speaking exclusively to Cyclingnews at the Bora-Hansgrohe training camp in Mallorca, Sagan outlined his Spring campaign for the coming year, his plans to gain experience in a Liege-Bastogne-Liege and his thoughts on Milan-San Remo.
"For next year I think we have the most complete Classics team we've had," Sagan told Cyclingnews.
Schachmann is likely to have a run at the Ardennes Classics, while Drucker has the ability and experience to fit straight into Sagan's cobbles crew. Gatto, 34 at the start of 2019, is another key signing and the Italian will bring valuable experience to the German team. For Sagan, already a friend of the Astana rider, Gatto's arrival will bring a sense of calm.
"We are making upgrades every year, and it's nice to see how the team is improving each year. We'll see what Gatto brings to the team. He brings a lot of experience and he can manage a lot of situations in important moments. Having him with us means you don't have to explain to maybe a much younger rider what to do. We know that he'll work and that he has a big engine. He won't make mistakes, and maybe you lose something with age, but he already knows what to do, so no energy is wasted. That means you can be really 100 per cent relaxed and be confident. I know he'll be there at the right moment."
Only time and subsequent results will determine whether Bora return stronger in 2019 but Quick-Step Floors, their principal rival in 2018, have gone through greater changes in personnel with Niki Terpstra, Fernando Gaviria and Laurens De Plus among those who have left, while Philippe Gilbert will be 37 next summer. Quick-Step's dominance this year has been down to their collective strength as much as to their individual brilliance, and Sagan is sure that they can be just as competitive in the future.
"There are a lot of good riders here just for me, but that means I also have to be ready to perform. We already know from this year that Quick-Step were winning races, not because they had the best rider but because they had a really strong general team that could make the tactics in races. If we could come back with something like that, then maybe things will be different," Sagan said.
"We'll have to see in March and April," he added when asked about the depth at QuickStep.
"I don't know if I can answer that now but for sure Quick-Step also brought in some new names and they can grow."
Perhaps the biggest change in Sagan's spring campaign is the provisional inclusion of Liege-Bastogne-Liege on his schedule. The three-time world champion has raced Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallonne in previous years, but never taken on the final race in the Ardennes trilogy. A route change and the chance to breathe new life into his programme are the two main reasons why Sagan has decided to stretch his Spring into the tail end of April.
"We'll have to see about Liege," he said. "I hope that I can make it to that race, but we'll have to see. It's time for me to get some experience in that race, I've never done it. I'm going there with no expectations and just to see the race. Maybe I'll skip Fleche Wallonne but it all depends what form I have left after Paris-Roubaix."
The first target in Sagan's refreshed Spring campaign remains Milan-San Remo, where he has finished in the top six on five different occasions. The Italian race has remained out of reach for many years but Sagan still has designs on winning an event he respects and admires due to the history of its previous victors.
"I'll try and be ready for Milan-San Remo but really we're making small changes to the programme. They could be ones that pay off but they could be dangerous ones too. We're only going to find out once the racing starts. I'm curious," he said.
"San Remo isn't a race that you can predict. You can't be at the start and think 'today I'm going to be the best, and I'm going to drop everybody.' Milan-San Remo isn't about being the best, there are so many factors to it. I'll try and do my best. It's different to a race like Flanders, where if you're the best and you have some luck then you'll win for sure because it's just too hard of a race. Unless you make a stupid mistake you're going to win.
"Milan-San Remo, you can see from the variations of the winners, that it's a different style of race. I think that's what makes it special for me. It's the longest race, the easiest to complete but very, very complicated and you never know what's going to happen. One year I was descending the Poggio and a dog ran in front of me. I jumped over him but my back wheel caught him and I was sprinting with a wheel that was catching the brakes."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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