Bora-Hansgrohe confirm arrival of 'inspirational' Primož Roglič

Team boss Ralph Denk explains the process of signing the Slovenian, how it was funded, and what he brings to the team

Clock09:11, Friday 6th October 2023
Primoz Roglic will ride for Bora-Hansgrohe in 2024

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Primoz Roglic will ride for Bora-Hansgrohe in 2024

In a press conference organised by the team on Friday morning, Bora-Hansgrohe founder and owner Ralph Denk confirmed the news of Primož Roglič's arrival from Jumbo-Visma.

GCN reported on Thursday that Roglič has signed a two-year deal with the team and will target the Tour de France next summer. Denk declined to disclose the length of the Slovenian's contract but enthusiastically welcomed what he described as an “inspirational” rider and a “milestone” for the team.

Read more: Primož Roglič signs two-year deal with Bora-Hansgrohe

"We have big news to announce, the rumours were already there over the last few days, we can confirm that Primož Roglič will join our team, our project, for the next years," said Denk.

"It is, after the departure of Peter Sagan, the next milestone for us. He’s one of the best riders in the world. He won more or less every race of the 2023 season that he rode and we are very much looking forward [to his arrival].

"I’m also proud, that Primož took the decision to sign with us. I think it’s a big boost for our whole team, the riders, the staff. In all the meetings I had with him, he inspired me on different things. I’m super happy to tell you this news."

Denk founded the German team in 2010 and while Sagan was the rider who propelled them to the WorldTour in 2017, they have in recent years pivoted towards a focus on the Grand Tours, with Jai Hindley winning the Giro d’Italia in 2022. Despite amassing a 2024 roster that also includes Aleksandr Vlasov, Cian Uijtdebroeks, and Dani Martínez, Denk sees Roglič as his ticket to the pinnacle of the sport: Tour de France victory.

“To win the Tour is a dream for me personally, and this was the chance to take one of the biggest contenders,” he said.

“We are realistic. He’s not the only contender. We need luck, a super strong team, an outstanding performance from Primož, but it’s already nice for me and the whole team to be a real contender. The feeling I got with Primož the last days is he’s really a personality, he can inspire a team, his professional attitude is, in my opinion, outstanding.”

The process of signing Roglič began eight years ago and accelerated during the Vuelta

Denk spoke more openly than most team managers about how he landed his big fish, and it’s a story that goes back eight years, to Roglič’s very first forays into the world of professional cycling. The Slovenian was a newly-retired ski jumper and, after impressing for a Slovenian team, Denk scouted him out and sat down with him in a beer garden in Salzburg. An offer was made, but he was later outbid by Jumbo-Visma.

“In my office, I found that offer again, and this offer [now] is definitely bigger,” he joked. “I can tell you that if you add another zero to the offer, it’s still not enough.”

Denk may have missed out the first time but, as he sees it, a seed was planted that has finally now sprouted.

“My main argument was that we believed in him. I showed that in my meeting eight years ago. No one in our cycling cosmos was recognising Primož Roglič at that time, but I did it already. We still believe in him and that was the key factor for him to sign with us.

“My chance was already good. We had those talks eight years ago and we always had small talks during the races in the last years. We have the same philosophy and we are not so far away from Slovenia here in south Germany where we are based. All those small parts gave a bigger picture, and I think that’s the reason he decided to sign with us.”

Denk explained that he first became aware of the possibility of signing Roglič during the final week of the Vuelta a España. He started to hear rumours of the proposed merger between Jumbo-Visma and Soudal Quick-Step, and he could sense Roglič was unhappy - both with the way things were unfolding in Spain as Sepp Kuss was promoted to leader, and with how things may pan out in future as Jonas Vingegaard looks locked in to lead at the Tour de France, the last Grand Tour Roglič has to achieve.

“I heard the rumours of the possible merger in the final week of the Vuelta, and I listened in detail to the interviews of Primož, and as far as I could find out, he was not happy anymore. It’s understandable, with Jumbo-Visma looking forward with leadership for Jonas Vingegaard - he’s younger and a two-time Tour de France champion. On the other hand, Primož was not really happy with how things were run in the Vuelta.

“I asked him, he was open to talking, and from the Vuelta onwards things went quite quickly, and we were able to achieve yesterday the final signature.”

'Red Bull not funding the deal'

As for how exactly Bora-Hansgrohe have managed to fund a rider who comes with a multi-million euro salary, Denk denied reports that Red Bull was essentially footing the bill.

The German team have a non-traditional partnership with the energy drink brand, which includes the 'project' surrounding the former ski mountaineer Anton Palzer, the Junior Brothers scouting programme, and Red Bull Athlete Performance Centre in Salzburg, where talks with Roglič were conducted.

“For sure I can confirm that the deal with Primož is not funded by Red Bull. It’s funded by us,” Denk insisted.

“Our economic balance was quite positive in the past years. We had some money in the bank, and we used that money for this deal."

Likewise, Denk denied any overall increase to Bora-Hansgrohe’s budget, which he says still puts them in a significantly lower economic category than Ineos Grenadiers, UAE Team Emirate, and Jumbo-Visma.

“We have no budget increase. It’s not that a new sponsor arrives. We paid this with our money, with what we put aside the last years for this kind of moment when the opportunity arrived to sign a really big rider.”

How will Roglič fit in at Bora-Hansgrohe?

Roglič, Denk said, is arriving “alone”. The team boss stated that his roster for 2024 is full, and that there is no room for any loyal lieutenants the Slovenian may wish to bring across from Jumbo-Visma.

“That wasn’t part of our negotiation. Form my understanding it was not super important for Primož, because we already have a great roster here,” Denk said.

However, it looks like Roglić won’t be completely alone, with reports that his coach set to follow across from Jumbo-Visma. Wout van Aert, who is also coached by Lamberts, has already confirmed the departure on Jumbo-Visma’s side.

“I know he is free for 2024, and he could be a good add-on for us, but we haven not reached a final agreement,” Denk said. “For now Primoz is alone. All other things we will communicate when we are ready to do it.”

As for how Roglič slots into the squad, there are legitimate question marks now surrounding the roles and objectives of the likes of Hindley, Vlasov, Martínez, and Kamna. Denk, though, played down any notion of unrest, claiming the riders had been kept abreast of the talks with Roglič and arguing that there will be enough races to go around.

“Our calendar is huge - in my opinion too huge. We have to cover a lot of races and we can make a good plan where we can respect the individual goals of some riders, and of course the individual goals of Primož, which is the highest priority.

“It was very important for me to be transparent with the current roster. The guys we’ve mentioned were already in front, and their feedback was quite positive. That’s important, to keep them on track. I’m super grateful what Jai, Alexandr, Lennard did for us. I’m expecting more good things from them, too. We need all of them.”

Denk admitted that the departure of Nils Politt to UAE Team Emirates was a blow when it comes to flat-land and all-terrain support for Roglič at the Tour, but argued that Bob Jungels, Nico Denz, and Marco Haller could help “cover the place of Nils”.

In any case, he expects the very presence of Roglič to lift the team across the board. “I think this will give a boost to our whole team.”

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