Peter Sagan’s victory at the 100th edition of the Tour of Flanders has confirmed the Slovakian as the best Classics rider in the peloton and further raised his value as he considers a series of offers for his long-term future.
Sagan avoids speaking about his future, letting his agent Giovanni Lombardi work quietly in the background. Sagan is focused on Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. He will ride Wednesday’s Scheldeprijs race in support of fellow Slovakian rider Erik Baška but the Tinkoff wants to ensure he 'gets round safely' and tests his bike set up for Sunday’s cobbles.
Etixx-QuickStep, BMC and Trek-Segafredo are all reported to be interested in signing Sagan as they look to rebuild their Classics squads and secure the biggest names in the sport for the long-term future.
Etixx-QuickStep urgently needs a replacement for the aging Tom Boonen, Philippe Gilbert is expected to leave BMC this year and Trek-Segafredo are looking to replace Fabian Cancellara. The arrival of Segafredo had provided the funding to sign Vincenzo Nibali and so target the Tour de France but the Italian has snubbed an offer and seems set to be part of the nascent Bahrain Cycling team. Sagan – who can win stages at the Tour de France and target the green points jersey is considered an excellent alternative signing.
Sagan has a contract with the Tinkoff team for 2017 but with team owner Oleg Tinkov having already announced that he will quit the sport at the end of this year, it seems that Sagan will be free to change teams if the Tinkoff team management fails to secure a major new sponsor. Team manager Stefano Feltrin has set the end of the Giro d’Italia as a key deadline and Sagan’s future is likely to have been decided by the time he starts the Tour de France.
Sagan earns a reported four million Euro per season but any new deal is likely to be worth even more after he confirmed his talent by winning the world road race title in Richmond in 2015 and then this year’s Tour of Flanders. Sagan has also become the biggest star of the peloton, with fans and sponsors attracted by his ability on the bike and also his spontaneity and sincerity off the bike. His long spell of placings in early season races before his victories at Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders only endeared him to cycling fans around the world even more.
Teams often hesitate at investing huge sums in one rider but also fear Sagan could sign for one of their major rivals. The influence of several major bike brands in teams is also playing a major role in the fight for Sagan’s signature. Specialized has enjoyed huge visibility from Sagan’s rise to success since he left Cannondale. Now Trek and even BMC would like to benefit from Sagan’s status as the sport’s biggest star.
Sagan will skip Amstel Gold Race but ride the Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse before the Tour de France
The Tinkoff team has confirmed that Sagan will take a well-deserved break after Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix after already racing for 20 days since making his season debut at the Tour de San Luis in late January.
Sagan's next major race will be the Tour of California in May, which he won in 2015 after winning two stages and finishing in the top three on four others. He will then ride the Tour de Suisse in June to be at his best for the start of the Tour de France, where he will target a fifth green points jersey.
Sagan finished third in the 2013 edition of the Amstel Gold Race but has opted to skip the hillier Classics since adding Paris-Roubaix to his race calendar. He is expected to spend time at altitude in the USA before the start of the Tour of California on May 15.