In the Tours from 2017 to today, Sagan dominated for Bora. He’s won five of their six stages before this year – Maciej Bodnar adding the other on the stage 20 time trial in 2017. There’s also the fact that every year since 2012 Sagan has been on the podium. in Paris in green, the only exception being in 2017, when he was controversially disqualified at the start of the race. Sagan and his hybrid driving abilities changed the face of what was traditionally sprinting competition.
Still, with five days remaining, he is behind Sam Bennett by 45 points, and on the back foot in a competition he has so far made his own. The sight of the Slovak riding with Bennett glued to his wheel in the first kilometers of Stage 16, like a bit of gum on his shoe, showed how difficult it would be for him to sweep the intermediate sprint points ahead. . fill the gap in the remaining five days of the race.
But while Sagan grabbed the headlines, quietly behind the scenes, Bora signed and developed a group of young German drivers who embody the future of the team. Kämna, 24, is the youngest of the trio of home talents on the Bora Tour roster, alongside Emanuel Buchmann, 27, and Max Schachmann, 26, while sprinter Pascal Ackermann, 26, was busy winning two stages at Tirreno-Adriatico.
Buchmann was set to challenge the GC this year and will no doubt be disappointed with how this year’s Tour has unfolded after he was the star of the Tour’s breakthrough last year, finishing fourth in Paris. Still, he can take comfort in the fact that his performance in the mountains, where he was totally absent, was the result of an accident at the Critérium du Dauphiné a few weeks before the big start rather than poor form – he slipped. in 33rd place after stage 15.
With Buchmann on pace, climbers such as Kämna and Schachmann were given the freedom to move, and the two proved to be among the most active and threatening riders on the Tour.
During the 9th stage, Kämna escaped at the start of the break before the riders from the GC joined them. In Stage 12 Schachmann tried his luck and was one of the instigators of the group that Marc Hirschi attacked – and won -. Schachmann finished sixth. A day later, the two riders escaped onto the roads of Pas de Peyrol, but despite the power play and hard work to get the group of 17 riders away, they missed stages on the final climb to the line and had to settle for second and third places behind Dani Martínez of EF Pro Cycling. Once again they continued, with Kämna doing a little digging in the last kilometers of stage 13, before being rolled up.
Finally, during the 16th stage, Kämna clinched a victory for the team after a fierce performance that saw him abandon Richard Carapaz and Sébastien Reichenbach, the last vestiges of the breakaway and despite the duo having it. first dropped, to find himself solo almost 90 seconds ahead. . This is only his second professional victory, the first having arrived a few weeks ago in the same style on stage 4 of the Dauphiné.
In riders such as Kämna, Schachmann, Buchmann and Ackermann, Bora now has strength in depth, something they didn’t have four years ago when they joined WorldTour. Buchmann has moved up in their ranks, having been spotted and signed in 2015. Schachmann and Kämna have proven to be wise, with manager Ralph Denk snatched from both Quick Step and Sunweb over the past two years. Schachmann, in this form, will head straight to the Ardennes classics as one of the favorites for victory.
Ackermann, meanwhile, was a little-known young sprinter when he joined the team at the same time as Sagan. Since 2018 he has won 28 victories – including stage victories at the Giro d’Italia – more than any other rider on the team. It is only a matter of time before he makes his Tour de France debut.
As for Peter Sagan. He has five stages to make his Tour a success, before returning home and refocusing on his debut at the Giro d’Italia. The five-year contract he signed in 2017 comes at the end of next season. It is unclear whether he plans to re-sign, relocate or retire – as he has hinted in the past. One thing is known is that the Bora-Hansgrohe team, every time he leaves, is now a major player in the WorldTour, and is certainly not the same team that Sagan joined in 2017.
Sophie Hurcom is Associate Editor of Procycling
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