Peter Sagan’s team baguettes, ranked by how much I would like to eat them

Excursions in Slovakian packaged sandwiches.

Composite image of Peter Sagan warily eyeing a baguette.

Iain Treloar
by Iain Treloar 01.06.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos and Pierre Baguette
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The end comes for us all: even if you’re Peter Sagan, arguably the most famous and popular rider of the last decade. After all those green jerseys and wins and three (three!!) consecutive world championships, the fire eventually went out. Maybe it was Covid-19. Maybe it was the Fake Basketball Shoes. Either way, Peter Sagan was once the biggest name in the sport, putting his name on bikes and showerheads alike, and now he’s … not. Which probably sounds harsher than it is, but like I said: the end comes for us all. 

For the late-career Peter Sagan, though, there remains enough peripheral glow that people are still interested in what he’s up to. The ill-fated bid for an XC berth at the Paris Olympics, for example. Or the un-retirement from road racing to join the roster of the magnificently-named Pierre Baguette Continental-level team out of Slovakia, under the directorship of his lesser-known big brother Juraj.

Peter Sagan waves at the crowd at the Tour of Hongrie.
Sagan and 🤙The Boyz🤙 at the Tour de Hongrie, early May.

But even if the results aren’t flowing, Peter Sagan is back in the sport and lending his marketing clout to the brands in his orbit – and so, it only seems fair to give the latest and (maybe?) greatest of them, Pierre Baguette, its time in the sun.

And definitively rank the visual appeal of their baked goods. Obviously. 

A bit of backstory

Who – or what – is Pierre Baguette? Great question; I’ll field this one. Pierre Baguette is not so much a man as a movement, forged in the bakers’ ovens of deepest Slovakia and dedicated to finding the nexus between “tasty food” and “pre-packaging.” If that sounds bombastic, it’s nothing on the brand’s manifesto (for maximum culty vibes, I maintain that all brands should have manifestos, the more unhinged the better), which tells us that “You can’t live without love – love passes through the stomach,” and that “Pierre is original and goes his own way,” and that “curiosity and courage propel us forward,” and finally that “Pierre is proud of his Slovak origin. And French charm. Pierre simply has style.”

Now, granted, that may be Google Translate laying on the mayo a bit thick, but I think we have an idea of the kind of institution we are dealing with: one that also sponsors a Continental cycling team that has the self-described “coolest name in pro cycling” (your move, Astana Qazaqstan). 

Sagan rides towards the camera.
Ok, still pretty cool, fine.

While fossicking about on the Pierre Baguette website, I learnt a few more things: that they bake more than 200,000 products a day; that they consume 200 tons of flour a month; that under the watchful eye of Head Chef Marek they have produced over 300 recipes; that “the founders of Pierre Baguette personally climbed to a height of 2,000 m in Andalusia” in search of the freshest salads; and that you can find their produce in 2,000 establishments across Slovakia, Austria, and Czechia, plus a bonus chain of Polish petrol stations. (There’s a small presence in Slovenia too, which puts them in direct and tantalising competition with the Tadej Pogačar sandwich.) 

Maybe I was hungry at the time, but there was one other surprising discovery from my perusal of the website. Some of these baguettes actually look pretty good! I mean, I’m sure there’s a cavernous divide between their website presentation and their actual in-store reality, but many of the flavours seem complementary and the ingredients in about the right proportions. I have had worse petrol station produce multiple times every July for years on the trot, and that’s been in France, a country internationally renowned for its baguettes. 

Take a look at these bad boys for yourself – a jaunty eight baguette lineup, all based on rolls baked in the Pierre Baguette factory in the rural town of Sládkovičovo (home of 5,000-ish people and a hotel called Petrov Grunt, which I quite like the linguistic mouthfeel of):

First cab off the rank (and maybe the strongest offering) is the Chicken Nuggets: a sesame roll, a “Sunday” salad (whatever that means) and golden chicken medallions. Looks a bit dry, but it has a “slightly spicy pepper dressing” which could do a lot of the heavy lifting, proportions dependent, as heavens knows it looks like a crunchy fella: 

We move to a titan of the Slovakian baguette trade, the Debrecen – ”a legendary smoked meat specialty” that is “the best-selling baguette in Slovakia without a break since 1996”. Looks pretty good, huh? The meat’s got a paprika coating, the cheese has holes in it, and there is a “slightly spicy Andalusian dressing,” which I guess means they got more than just lettuce on the mountaintop. The green shards launching out the top? Glad you asked – that’s the spring onion.

Summing up – would eat, even if A) I’m a bit worried why the company has nicknamed this “Mrs Baguette” and B) I wish it had some sesame seeds:

To the Hot Strips! Deep-fried using a “special method” – intriguing – and with a dressing that is neither Andalusian or slightly spicy; it is merely described as a “special dressing.” Cautious thumbs up, but would feel comfortable with a bit more information:

The Ham baguette has, appropriately enough, ham in it. And lettuce. And tomato. And an even more lacklustre dressing that doesn’t get any further description than “dressing.” Where’s the cheese, Pierre? Where’s the sesame? Do we have to beg you for a knife swoop of mustard (wholegrain or dijon, beggars can’t be choosers)? It’s fine, but it hardly gets the pulse racing, and has rampant possibility for sogginess from the tomato: 

From the basic ham baguette we’re getting deeper into the Regional Foods with the Debrecen Chilli, which promises “ham from a real loin,” (?) “the slightly spicy taste of our new chili dressing,” some boiled eggs with a suspicious yolk to white ratio and a mysterious “potato pastry.” Probably wouldn’t buy. Happy for you if you would:

The baguette so substantial it has its own birthday: October 13, 2022, the date that this “heavyweight among baguettes on the Slovak market” was introduced. A collaboration with MMA fighter Attil Végh, this bad boy is 245 grams of the finest ham, boiled egg, salami, Gouda and “Attil’s favourite mildly spicy dressing.”

Side note: the more time I spend looking at these baguettes, the more I’m narrowing down my distrust to the egg:

Now we get into the pickle portion of the menu. I’m delighted to tell you that Google Translate would prefer to refer to them as “sterilised cucumbers,” and slightly less delighted with Pierre Baguette’s choice of horseradish dressing with the Turista salami and the Gouda cheese. Simply too much flavour! Not for me! No thanks!:

As if Pierre Baguette has realised they’ve rowed the boat out a bit far, they tone it back with the final baguette on the menu: the ham with butter. This is, allegedly, “based on the simplicity of the recipes of the original French baguettes, combining the flavours of high-quality ingredients.” Sterilised cucumbers are back for a victory lap, but the Gouda cheese gets subbed out for a more mild Edam. There is no dressing, just salted butter.

I would eat this if I had to, but in the here and now, I don’t, so I won’t:

So where does that leave us?

Pierre Baguette is bigger than just its baguettes, of course, and has wisely diversified its portfolio: there are good-looking wraps and yolk-heavy sandwiches, some health-conscious (read: boring) options, and even some pretty gross-looking paninis. But the limit of our analysis lies in the company’s name: it is not Pierre Panini. It is not Pierre Active-and-Fit Chicken Steak Protein Sandwich. It is Pierre Baguette, and they have eight baguettes. I would gladly eat three out of eight, and a couple more at a push. That’s a pretty good strike rate for a packaged Slovakian service station sandwich! 

A scan of Peter Sagan’s socials provides no clues as to which Pierre Baguette baguette the Pierre Baguette rider is reaching for. We can, perhaps, make some ill-informed guesses; I’ve got him picked out as a Debrecen guy, but he’s always been an enigmatic individual so I might be barking up the wrong tree.

Peter Sagan eyeballs the camera and smiles enigmatically.
“And I’ll never tell.”

Maybe he doesn’t eat them at all, which would also be fine: his mere presence in the Pierre Baguette orbit is probably enough to justify their sponsorship. Maybe this was what they had planned all along – the hope that some dumb article could be written ranking their baguettes based on zero mouth-time in any of the requisite countries, based purely on pictures and Google Translated ingredients.

Is that a sponsorship win? I suppose it’ll have to do. 

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