The arrival of Red Bull as majority shareholder of the Bora-Hansgrohe team is expected to have a ‘major impact’ on the rider transfer market for 2025, sparking an increase in rider salaries and perhaps further hostile attempts to buy riders out of existing contracts.
Remco Evenepoel and Wout Van Aert’s representatives quickly refuted reports that the two Belgians have been approached for 2025 and Red Bull’s take over of the team has still to be approved by Austria’s antitrust authorities. However, Red Bull are widely expected to buy a 51% stake in the German WorldTour team and boost the spending power of team manager Ralph Denk.
Rider agents have naturally welcomed the arrival of Red Bull to professional cycling, hoping their investment could raise the salaries of their riders.
Red Bull made a profit of €1.56 billion ($1.64 billion) in 2022, and reports indicate that Oliver Mintzlaff, the managing director of sports sponsorship, expects the team will be strengthened and rebuilt for 2025 with the aim of winning the Tour de France. German news agency dpa suggested the Red Bull logo could appear on the team’s jersey as soon as the 2024 Tour de France despite sponsorship with Bora and Hansgrohe recently extended until 2027.
“The arrival of RedBull will have a major impact on the sport and on the rider transfer market,” leading agent Alex Carera told Cyclingnews.
“The arrival of Lidl as a title sponsor changed a lot for the 2024 rider market, raising team budgets, and so has the more recent arrival of Decathlon. The arrival of Red Bull will only raise the value of the biggest riders even more.”
Dpa claimed that Bora-Hansgrohe have already put out ‘feelers’ to investigate if Wout Van Aert and Remco Evenepoel would be interested in joining the team. Both have contracts with Visma-Lease a Bike and Soudal-Quick Step until the end of 2026 but could have limited exit clauses in their contracts and so become targets for Red Bull, who usually target globally appealing riders.
Van Aert already has a personal deal and helmet sponsorship with Red Bull, while Evenepoel has a deal with Bora-Hansgrohe bike sponsor Specialized.
Denk has twice tried to sign Evenepoel but he has so far remained with Patrick Lefevere’s Soudal-Quick Step team, despite suggestions from his father that he is not happy with the Grand Tour potential of the team.
“There are four global stars in professional cycling at the moment and I think Ralph Denk could try and sign one of them for 2025,” Carera told Cyclingnews.
“The big four are Tadej Pogačar, Mathieu van der Poel, Wout Van Aert, and Remco Evenepoel. I wouldn’t include Jonas Vingegaard in that list despite him winning the Tour de France simply because I don’t think he’s a global star that appeals to Red Bull.”
Carera is Pogačar’s agent and knows that the Slovenian would surely be a potential target for Red Bull.
La Gazzetta dello Sport estimated that Pogačar is the highest earner in the professional peloton with a contract and personal sponsorship totaling six million Euro per year. However, Pogačar has a €100 million exit clause in his contract with UAE Team Emirates that lasts until the end of 2027. He appears out of reach for Red Bull until then, with UAE Team Emirates naturally keen to retain Pogačar for 2028 when Abu Dhabi will host the World Championships.
“Tadej is under contract until 2028 but I don’t think the other riders have huge exit clauses,” Carera suggested.
“Van der Poel recently extended his contract with Alpecin-Deceuninck and so perhaps is likely to stay. That leaves just two riders left for Red Bull to target…”
Denk was surprisingly absent during the Bora-Hansgrohe Medis Day in Mallorca last week but spoke to the media at the event, including Cyclingnews, via video call.
“I have a business trip in the US,” Denk said, slightly evasively.
Dpa news agency suggested Denk was in California to speak to Red Bull and Specialized about their future plans.
Denk was cautious when speaking about Red Bull’s investment to the media, citing the January 26 deadline for the Austria’s antitrust authorities. Yet he hinted that Red Bull could be a game changer, especially if the One Cycling reform project is confirmed.
“We have to wait and see the evolution of cycling. For sure Red Bull has shown that in some other sports, they can make the difference but it’s far too early to talk about it,” he said.
Primož Roglič is Bora-Hansgrohe’s new Tour de France leader and a true yellow jersey contender in 2024, yet the arrival of Red Bull as a 51% controlling owner could massively elevate the team’s ambitions.
“It could be a strategic and big partnership that will help us to grow and reach our goals,” Denk said, indicating he is hopeful Red Bull’s investment can help them become a superteam and so take on the likes of UAE Team Emirates.
“In the last few years cycling has changed a lot and Arabian countries have more influence. If you look at the budgets of the teams, the average grows and grows every year, so we have to react.”
“My goal is to run a team that is really competitive. The arrival of Red Bull looks like it could be the next step forward for us.”