World champion Peter Sagan wants big money. Big, huge, massive, spill-out-of-the-bank- vault money.
Which in the grand scheme of things is chump change compared to what your average sheik of an oil producing country makes or any of the dishonest already obscenely rich people caught in the Panama Papers financial scandal.
According to the new stories, Sagan wants to be the most well-compensated pro cyclist in the world, at roughly six million euros a year for 2017. By comparison, two-time Tour de France winner Chris Fromme is at a pathetic, barely-pay-the-bills 5.5 million euros.
So after putting in about 25 years in advertising, marketing and branding, let me throw in my one euro’s worth of opinion. Sagan is worth all six million and probably more.
For a start among many starting points, he is by far the most charismatic, unique, interesting, photogenic personality in the pro peloton. I have interviewed Chris Froome for 30 minutes — he’s an exceedingly polite, thoughtful and articulate man. He’s also regrettably, from a pure media, high-impression, social media viral perspective, dull.
In a sport that still reels with doping, corruption, warring political factions, misguided governance, petty power squabbles and assorted stupidity, Sagan is the biggest, brightest, most high profile positive impression. He has enough personality for five riders and his unique style — from wheelies to hair style to unshaved legs to Grease musical lip syncs puts him in a stratosphere all his own.
Now put that together with the fact that he is still only 26, is the World Champion in the road race, and just won his first monument in the Tour of Flander, and you begin to have an inkling just how far his appeal goes.
He’s a superstar on and off the bike. He is a massive breath of fresh air in a sport that still has daily struggles finding a consistent message and compelling story for a general audience.
If you want the perfect NBA analogy, Peter Sagan is the Steph Curry of pro cycling. He is that charismatic, that game changing, that unique and that audience-expanding.
He is a steal of a deal at six million euros.
“He’s asking for big numbers, but I can’t confirm the amount. The amount is more or less that,” Trek – Segafredo manager Luca Guercilena told VeloNews. Yeah, it should be and maybe more, folks.
Some team mangers that are happy to pay big stars but don’t have the budget for a supernova are already on record claiming empty pockets. “Four million is 20 percent of my budget, and that does not even include the entourage he would bring,” Etixx-Quickstep’s Patrick Lefevere told Het Laatste Nieuws.
So who does have deep pockets and who does fully understand the value of Peter Sagan? Not teams caught in the moronic financial structure that is pro cycling sponsorship today but rather smart brands who understand the deep value of a unique and amazing talent.
That would be the California fast-bike manufacturer Specialized. Their president Mike Sinyard knows all about the power of branding and great advertising. Years ago he hired San Francisco ad agency Goodby, Silverstein to do their campaigns and they’ve been coasting on that creative work ever since.
Sinyard and Specialized are very happy to have Tom Boonen and Etixx-Quickstep but the Tornado is near retirement and Sagan is next superstar up. They will work a lot of numbers to make Sagan a killer offer.
And lets’s not forget that US bike market where Sagan is the top star, especially in Specialized’s home base of Morgan Hill, California. Sagan won the overall in the Tour of California last year in a startling display of sprinting, climbing and TT skills. He loves California and has won something like eight stages wins. He is Hollywood here in Cali.
Which is why Trek-Segafredo’s Guercilena, who has zero expertise in marketing, knows the score: “He would make any team happy. He has a strong image so he can go to the market with those numbers. A grand tour rider goes only one month or so, but a classics rider goes in April and then goes again in a grand tour where he can win some stages. Sagan, even in a stage race, brings high visibility. So it makes sense that he asks for big money.”
Yeah, big, massive, spill-out-of-the-bank- vault money. Now whether he gets that six million euro contract is yet to be seen but in terms of marketing value he is worth every single euro.