The Austrian anti-trust authorities have given the green light for Red Bull’s takeover of the Bora-Hansgrohe team, with full details of how the energy drink will transform the team due to be revealed later in the 2024 season.
In a brief note published on Monday, the Austrian Bundeswettbewerbsbehörde (Federal Competition Authority) said no formal request to review the deal was lodged before the January 26 deadline, effectively giving the deal the green light.
Early in January, the Austrian Federal Competition Authority records revealed that Red Bull GmbH, intends to make an ‘indirect acquisition of a controlling interest of 51% in RD pro cycling GmbH & Co KG and RD Beteiligungs GmbH.’
The two companies own and manage the Bora-Hansgrohe team and are owned or controlled by team manager Ralph Denk, his family and other partners.
“With today’s decision, we have cleared an important hurdle. The foundations of our partnership with Red Bull are now officially in place. This is the green light we’ve been waiting for to go ahead with the formalities and many specific parts of the collaboration,” Denk said in a brief statement from the Bora-Hansgrohe team.
“Everyone in cycling knows how important the basics and preparation are for success. So, we are now taking this step with the necessary consideration and resolution. We will present the further details of our partnership in the course of the season.”
There have been reports that Red Bull will become the title sponsor of the team despite Bora and Hansgrohe recently extending their title sponsorship contracts until 2027.
Denk is expected to remain as team manager as part of the Red Bull agreement.
Bora-Hansgrohe signed Primož Roglič from Jumbo-Visma for 2024, making them a true Tour de France. The team allowed Cian Uijtdebroeks to join rivals Visma-Lease a Bike after a contract dispute but their 2024 roster includes Australian sprinter Sam Welsford, Aleksandr Vlasov, Dani Martínez, Jai Hindley, Lennard Kämna and Bob Jungels.
Many were surprised by Red Bull’s decision to move into team ownership. The energy drink brand has preferred to sponsor individual athletes such as Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), Blanka Vas (SD Worx), Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike) and most recently Zoe Backstedt (Canyon-Sram) but they also own a Formula 1 team and several European football teams.
However, the arrival of Red Bull is expected to have a ‘major impact’ on the rider transfer market for 2025, according to leading rider agent Alex Carera.
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 at Red Bull, 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.
“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,” Carer told Cyclingnews recently.
Dpa suggested 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.
Denk was cautious when speaking before the Austrian anti-trust authorities had approved the deal but hinted that Red Bull could be a game changer, especially if the One Cycling reform project to modernise the sport’s business model is confirmed.
“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.”
“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.