A year ago I got fired up to see Bora Hansgrohe try to make their move out of what I was calling the “muddled middle” of the World Tour, the teams a big step (or two) below the Jumbos and Quick Steps... and Bora made me look, if not prescient then at least semi-conscious, when they went on to take a very impressive individual and team win at the Giro d’Italia, the centerpiece of a season which saw them fifth overall, trailing only the biggest elephants in the World Tour room.
Like I said then, they are a bit heavily oriented around grand tours or at least stage racing, even by the sport’s standards, and that will continue to be the case this season. Which is not an easy way to make a living. It’s nice that they made it to the second tier, but it might be hard to stay there too.
1. Can Hindley Make the Tour More Interesting?
Ah, cutting right to the chase. We have seen time and time again riders win the Giro d’Italia and then immediately set out to take the next step up to the Tour. And time and time again, we see that there are guys who can win the Giro... full stop. Nothing in Hindley’s history suggests he can go beyond this level. He’s 27, he won a Giro against Richard Carapaz and Mikel Landa, he lost one previously to Tao Hart, and he hasn’t had the kind of career that suggests he’s about to get to that level. His only victories in Europe at the elite level have been in the Giro. That’s all.
I want to believe though. His climbing has been outstanding, and there aren’t enough ITT miles in this Tour to put Hindley off his game. But if Hindley is a player at the Tour, it’s going to take something very special. Sergio Higuita should be alongside, and the rest of his helpers will be interesting to see, but they won’t include the departed Wilco Kelderman, who was critical in Hindley’s Giro win.
Is this exciting? I want to say it is. Maybe it will be! Maybe Hindley will get to say that they “aren’t here to put socks on centipedes” again, like he did last May, only this time we might get a reasonable interpretation of what that means. But the heavy favorites will still be Pogs and Vingegaard, who were so far above the field last year that... well, Bora have some serious ground to make up.
2. OMG CIAN UIJTDEBROEKS IS RIDING THE VUELTA!
DId you hear that Cian Uijtdebroeks is riding the Vuelta? He is! CIAN UIJTDEBROEKS IS RIDING THE VUELTA!!
3. Do we like having Vlasov go to the Giro?
This is an odd move, but Bora don’t seem to be afraid of bucking conventional wisdom, and I think I am with them here. Vlasov had a terrific Tour last year, finishing fifth overall after taking fourth at the Giro in 2021, and this was following a bout with COVID that messed up his prep at the Tour de Suisse. He’s more of a time triallist than Hindley, quite a good one in fact, and the Giro has the ITT km this year. More interestingly, he will go head to head with a somewhat similar rider in Remco Evenepoel there, making for a pretty great battle, something that could really help Vlasov grow as a leader and give the team the juice they aren’t likely to get at the Tour.
Vlasov will have Bob Jungels as his main support, coming off a campaign where he seemed to overcome his arterial endofibrosis, enough to win a Tour stage. Maybe Giovanni Aleotti gets a third chance for home glory too, after leveling up in the second half of last season (winning Sibiu, 7th in Quebec). I don’t know if Bora see the Giro as the best they can hope for now, given the Pogs-Vings level, or just as a way to keep growing — probably the latter, but the former, pink jerseys, are a pretty inspiring goal too. Smart move here.
4. What do they even do outside the grand tours?
Watch them make me eat my words... but the current roster seems conspicuously geared toward the three week events, compared to most World Tour teams which mix things up a bit more. Even Sam Bennett, their likeliest winner of things, excels in stage race bunch sprints more than the classic variety. He may end up being their biggest story at the Tour.
They may have one of the quirkiest Cobbled Classics lineups around, which isn’t such a bad thing. Jordi Meeus is the Belgian draft horse and won the Primus Classic (formerly GP Impanis) last season. Supposedly Jungels and Max Schachmann will both ride Flanders. Nils Politt is four years removed from taking second in Paris-Roubaix, but at 29 he has a few shots left. Oh, and they brought in mountain biker Victor Koretzky to see what he can do, after making a better-late-than-never debut with B&B Hotels last year in races like de Ronde. Kind of a rag-tag collection of riders for those events, but I wouldn’t put anything past them.
5. And Those Kits...
Are you excited for this one? Maybe, maybe not. But I find their stuff to be both original and very cool.
2023: Accented Metal
If you scroll down, you’ll see that the metallic blue/green has been a staple of the Bora look for several years. But they have added a bit more of it, done some pattern-y things like a lot of teams, and thrown in some red blocks to make it really pop. I totally love it.
2022 Tour Special
Like many teams they did a special edition for the 2022 Tour where they lightened up the colors, conventional wisdom saying that this works better under the hot summer sun. The unbalanced sleeves are OK but with the various color blocks it came across as a bit chaotic.
I guess this is their classic look with the two shades of the main color dominating, plus some less conspicuous accents than the current version. If you think the 2023 version needs to relax a bit, this is the look for you.
I’m getting a little fuzzy on when this look came in — early season or just at the Tour? But it’s pretty great. Very modern cycling. Nils Politt looks like he’s made of carbon fiber, which can’t be ruled out.
For the shortened 2020 season and the full return in 2021, Bora went with this white-heavy kit that I don’t hate, but don’t feel excited about either.
One of the oddities of doing these in reverse order is that most teams have gotten better at this, which means in my review of them they just get worse as you read on. This was a forgettable effort, especially in light of where they have taken the designs since... but even compared to the older stuff too. Just not much going on.
See, if you are going to do the diagonal V-pattern, this is a much better way of working it in, rather than just having it sitting there in a white field. Kinda like it.
Emerging from the black days (hang on a moment) as Bora signed on to sponsor the team, this is when the metallic green showed up, albeit in subtle spots that fade to total black in a clever way. Bora make cooking ranges, and the metallic green shows up in a lot of fancy kitchen countertops, so I will give the sponsor and its designers a nod for saving the team from...
Eh, OK, I guess Bora get blamed for the boring black off-the-rack look of the earliest days, but sometimes it takes time to figure stuff out.
Oh, hey, remember that this team was formerly NetApp? Maybe not, and with good reason. This was actually their better NetApp look.
Don’t look back in anger.
OK, make your picks!
When Did Bora Nail Their Look?
This poll is closed
Just now, 2023, with the extra red
At the 2022 Tour, all whitened up
In 2022 when they finally went all metallic
2021 Tour Carbon Fiber look
2021, their whitest whites
2019, the V-look
2018: the darker V look
2017: Black and green spots
2015: Off the rack black
2014: Black and Blue NetApp
2013: Green and blue NetApp