While Liquigas Cannondale is thrilled with his two stage wins so far in the Tour de France, they’re not happy with his victory routines. In stage two, Sagan mimicked a body builder muscle routine and in stage four he executed a perfect running man pantomime.
The exposure was invaluable but the Liquigas sponsor believes that Sagan should have made his gestures more sponsor-focused. “We are pleased, that goes without saying,” said Renato Laffalotti of Liquigas. “But we ask ourselves, what does body building have to do with liquified gas products? Could he not mimic holding a tank of propane and hooking it up to a barbecue set?”
The Italian sponsor is reportedly angry that Sagan works out his victory plans with no regard for the commercial interests of the major finical sponsor for the team. “Cavendish, when he rode for HTC in the Tour, he would cross the line acting like he was making a cell phone call on an HTC cell phone,” said Laffalotti. “That sells products, that moves merchandise. If we sold running shoes, we would be thrilled with his stage four antics — but we sell gas.”
According to several sources within the Liquigas Cannondale squad, Sagan is too young to understand the commercial implications of his stage winning demonstrations. “Peter is only 22, he doesn’t get the whole commercial thing. He doesn’t process how important sponsors are,” said team spokesman Luigi Fontana.
Sagan has had it clear that he works out his victory routines with friends over the phone. Team management has apparently tried to contact these friends. “Liquigas just wants a discussion with the friends and perhaps a reminder that Peters’ salary is pad by Liquigas. So any physical displays at the finish line need to respect the needs of the primary team sponsor,” said Laffalotti.
While several riders such as Garmin-Sharp’s Robbie Hunter have criticized Sagan’s attention-getting antics, it appears that Liquigas is the most upset. “The Tour de France is our showcase,” said Laffalotti. “If he wants to do the running man gestures in Qatar, that’s one thing. At the Tour, we expect more respect.”
While not as disappointed as Liquigas with Sagan’s lack of sponsor support at the finish line, bike sponsor Cannondale is also wondering what Sagan could do for their brand. “Hey, he’s a happy-go-lucky guy,” said Michael Rooks, head of global marketing at Cannondale. “But would we like him to point at the bike frame and give it a thumbs up? Sure, that would boost sales.”
According to Rooks, Cannondale’s creative team has offered to develop some more sales focused victory routines. “There are still plenty of stages left in the Tour. We’ve talked to Peter about a few things, given him a routine or two to practice. Making the letter C with his fingers, stuff like that. It should be exciting,” said Rooks.”