Cans of Red Bull energy drinks were already visible at the Bora-Hansgrohe team camp in Mallorca on Wednesday, a sign that the German team may soon have some extra financial wings to lift them to the level of the UAE Team Emirates, Visma-Lease a Bike, Lidl-Trek and Ineos Grenadiers super teams.
Primož Roglič is Bora-Hansgrohe’s leader and a true yellow jersey contender in 2024, yet the arrival of Red Bull as a 51% controlling owner could transform the team’s ambitions and have a huge impact on the sport in general.
“It could be a strategic partnership that will help us to grow and reach our goals,” current team owner and manager Ralph Denk said in a video call to Cyclingnews and other media present in Mallorca.
“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.”
Denk hinted that Red Bull’s investment could be a game changer, especially if the One Cycling reform project is confirmed. But he remains cautious because the deal is currently being scrutinised by Austrian anti-competition authorities. Roglič spent Wednesday morning filming a commercial for Red Bull but the deal has still to be 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.
“We have to wait for the final decision of the Austrian government or the body that decides on competition rules.”
Primož is a pure leader
Denk has more control of Bora-Hansgrohe’s 2024 ambitions. Earlier on Wednesday, Roglič was confirmed as team leader for the Tour de France and talked confidently about his chances.
He will have support from Jai Hindley, Aleksandr Vlasov and a strong team built around him. Other riders have accepted chances in the Giro d’Italia and WorldTour stage race but Roglič is the protected, single leader in July.
“Primož has won more or less every race but he has missed out on a Tour victory, the yellow jersey. This is the big goal. We have to focus on it,” Denk made clear.
As Head of Sport Rolf Aldag revealed earlier in the day, Denk confirmed that Roglič is pushing Bora-Hansgrohe to improve in lots of ways.
Roglič talked about simplifying some things, to focus on what is important. Denk revealed more details.
“Primož is a pure leader. He challenges us about details, in a way we never talked before. I like that,” Denk said.
“It’s always good when the riders have opinions. I’m always open to improving my team if we have enough budget for it.
“Primož is really good about bringing us all forward. Everyone in the team are quite happy so far. I believe the motivation that he doesn’t have 10 years ahead of him, helps him.
“We discussed for hours some details like when is the best time for attitude camp or how long a break he needs before the next race. It’s nice to have this conversation and I think that’s the key to bringing our whole project forward.”
The Bora-Hansgrohe master plan includes Roglič racing sparingly in 2024 and not at all until Paris-Nice. That will give opportunities for the riders who will have to work for him at the Tour de France.
Roglič will ride Itzulia Basque Country and perhaps the Ardennes Classics before going to altitude for a long spell before the Critérium du Dauphiné. He and Bora-Hansgrohe are keen to lay solid foundations for his assault at the Tour de France.
We have created a clear plan for the preparations we’ll do,” Denk said.
“Primož is not racing a lot before the Tour and that gives others like Vlasov, Hindley, Kemna and others, a chance to show something and go for their own goals.
“I think this is the right balance and then after the Ardennes Classics, we’ll be really sure who is in the Tour team and then start the preparation together.
“For example, Martínez and Higuita are our leaders for the Volta ao Algarve, then Zwiehoff and Buchmann for the UAE Tour. Roglič goes for Paris-Nice but Vlasov is a co-captain. Vlasov leads at Catalunya and Romandie, with Martínez, while Roglič goes for Pais Vasco. Martínez and Kämna lead at the Giro.
“We will give the other riders leader opportunities. That will mean we have full commitment to support Roglic in the Tour. That is the plan.”