Bora-Hansgrohe gained promotion to the WorldTour for the 2017 campaign thanks chiefly to Sagan’s haul of UCI points and the German squad quickly went on to establish itself as a mainstay in the top flight.
“When I joined Bora-Hansgrohe in 2016 people were also saying it was a small team. Within a few years, it gained the importance that you know,” Sagan told Vélo Magazine.
“I don’t care that [TotalEnergies] are not currently on the WorldTour, I want to help them grow.”
TotalEnergies will remain a second-tier ProTeam squad in 2022, though the French outfit is certain to earn invitations to the Tour de France and most of Sagan’s targeted WorldTour races.
Sagan explained that the enthusiasm of manager Jean-René Bernaudeau had helped to convince him to make the move. Suppliers Specialized and Sportful have followed Sagan from Bora-Hansgrohe to Team TotalEnergies, together with riders Daniel Oss and Maciej Bodnar.
“There were several teams that showed interest, but Bernaudeau's team showed the most respect for me,” Sagan said.
“They really wanted me and they showed it all the time. They answered every question we had immediately. It sometimes took others weeks. They are building a team around me and that's what attracted me to the project.”
Sagan won five races in 2021, including a stage of the Giro d’Italia, even though a coronavirus diagnosis delayed the start of his season while a knee injury caused by a stage 3 crash forced him to abandon the Tour de France and ruled him out of the Tokyo Olympics.
The three-time world champion has not won a Classic since he landed Paris-Roubaix in 2018, though he has finished fourth in the past three editions of Milan-San Remo.
“Cycling has changed a lot these past three years. Some new riders have come up and the races themselves have changed. You have no choice but to adapt to it and keep working,” said Sagan.
“When I was winning regularly and became world champion three times, I didn’t get any presents. It might have seemed easy, but it wasn’t. My victories are the result of sacrifices. That’s the price you pay to reach the top and to stay there.”
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