Peter Sagan could make the move to Etixx-QuickStep next season with the help of bike manufacturer Specialized. According to Het Nieuwsblad, Specialized could facilitate the move if the Tinkoff team is unable to find a sponsor for 2017.
Sagan is currently under contract with the Tinkoff team for the 2017 season, but sponsor Oleg Tinkov has already indicated his intentions to leave the sport at the end of the season. Team manager Stefano Feltrin has set an initial deadline for the end of the Giro d'Italia to find a replacement sponsor.
In any transfer market, Sagan would be hot property but even more so with his victory at the Tour of Flanders. He has been linked to Etixx-QuickStep, BMC and Trek-Segafredo in recent weeks. However, Specialized are keen to keep him, making Etixx-QuickStep their preferred team. Het Nieuwsblad says that any deal made would take some time to iron out, however no quotes or sources are provided in the story.
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There is little doubt that Etixx boss Patrick Lefevere would be happy to have him on board as he looks to find a leader to replace Tom Boonen. While Boonen has hinted that he may race the Classics next season, the Belgian is coming towards the end of his illustrious career and does not possess the firepower he did in his pomp. However, it was Boonen that salvaged the team’s Classics campaign with his second place at Paris-Roubaix. Paris-Roubaix 2014 winner Niki Terpstra and Zdenek Stybar have been pegged as Boonen’s replacements but neither lived up to expectations during this season’s Classics.
Etixx-QuickStep may face some stiff competition from Trek-Segafredo, who are looking to replace Fabian Cancellara for next year.
There are several other top Classics contenders out of contract at the end of the season. Sep Vanmarcke, Greg Van Avermaet, Michael Matthews and John Degenkolb are all available, but Sagan’s new contract could be key in the transfer market.