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Peter Sagan to Deceuninck-QuickStep transfer off the table says Lefevere

Giro d'Italia 2021 - 104th Edition - 19th stage Abbiategrasso - Alpe di Mera 166 km - 28/05/2021 - Peter Sagan (SVK - Bora - Hansgrohe)- photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Despite showing interest in signing Peter Sagan for 2022, Deceuninck-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere has now ruled out the possibility of signing the three-time world champion. 

Sagan is out of contract at Bora-Hansgrohe at the end of 2021 and speculation over his future has grown since the German team's manager Ralph Denk suggested they no longer needed the services of the rider who effectively propelled them to the WorldTour when he arrived in 2017. 

Lefevere made no secret that there was mutual interest between his team and Sagan's representatives, despite the Slovakian being a long-time Classics rival. However, in his latest column for Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, Lefevere revealed that negotiations had reached a dead end when Sagan demanded a significant part of his entourage be included in the deal. 

"A state of affairs regarding Peter Sagan: it looks like he will not be riding for our team next year. I was interested, but not by the conditions that were on the table," Lefevere wrote. 

He explained that Specialized, which will supply bikes to the team through 2027, was keen on the deal - having been a loyal personal sponsor of Sagan's - as was the team's funder Zdenek Bakala. However, Sagan has insisted that up to 11 riders and support staff members stay by his side, which Lefevere was unwilling to accommodate.

"He has four permanent teammates with Erik Baska, Maciej Bodnar, Daniel Oss and his brother Juraj Sagan. He also brings along two mechanics, two caretakers, a sports director, a press officer and a hospitality manager," Lefevere wrote. 

"Great of Sagan that he takes such good care of his faithful, but I didn't feel like a team within my team. That cannot be reconciled with the Wolfpack philosophy."

Lefevere claimed that Sagan's agent, Giovanni Lombardi, was willing to reduce it to a 'Sagan plus eight package', but that they had since found a team who were willing to accommodate all 11. This week La Gazzetta dello Sport and French newspaper L'Equipe linked Sagan to Total Direct Energie, Jean-René Bernaudeau's second-division French team who have their sights set on the WorldTour - much like Bora five years ago. 

"Until recently I heard from Lombardi that a team was willing to take everyone on board. I also read that it would be Direct Energie, but to be honest: I don't know," Lefevere said. 

"In any case, Sagan's preference goes out to that new team and that argues for his loyalty. He wants as many regular people around him as possible. Too bad, but unfortunately our cooperation will be for a next life."

Lefevere will now turn his attention to firming up his roster for 2022 and building a team to back Remco Evenepoel's Grand Tour hopes. 

He has already signed Evenepoel, Julian Alaphilippe, and Kasper Asgreen to new long-term contracts, although he appears resigned to seeing sprinter Sam Bennett and Joao Almeida move on.   

He referenced Fabio Jakobsen and Florian Sénéchal as riders with whom he'll be negotiating contract extensions in the coming weeks, but suggested he is willing to wait until later in the season to pick up bargains, claiming he has already been approached by several riders.

"The peloton still easily finds its way to my inbox. Allow me not to name names, but many applications are coming in. Also from riders who left us earlier. They now urge to return," he said.