2012 team victory rankings

Monday, 19 March 2012

Wins Team
19 Omega Pharma – Quickstep
12 Liquigas – Cannondale
12 Team Sky
7 Lotto – Belisol
6 FDJ – BigMat
6 Garmin – Barracuda
6 Movistar
5 Greenedge
5 Vacansoleil – DCM
4 Katusha
3 Rabobank
2 Radioshack – Nissan
2 Saxo Bank
0 Ag2r – La Mondiale, Astana, BMC Racing, Euskaltel – Euskadi, Lampre – ISD

We’re now in a second phase of the calendar now that the early season races are done and Milan-Sanremo is over. It is early to count the team wins but the data are worth a quick look.

The table counts all recognised wins by the top-18 UCI Pro Teams. In total there have been 89 wins for these teams. We can spot the “winner takes all trend” as roughly half of the wins belong to just three teams. Much of the table speaks for itself but note the Quickstep team won just eight races in 2011 but they have 19 wins already this year.

A picture says a 1000 words

The picture above explains plenty. Omega Pharma leads, Sky look strong, Garmin-Barracuda have a surprise whilst Rabobank have run out of luck. Also note there are wins… and there are wins. It is early in the season and many teams would swap all their victories so far for a win in one of the upcoming classics.

Lower down, BMC stand out, their best result is a second place in the Tour of Qatar thanks to Adam Blythe, followed by Greg Van Avermaet’s second place in the Volta ao Algarve and Blythe followed up with a third place in the Handzame Classic last week. Like many Swiss exports the team is focussed on quality if anyone wants to pass judgement, at least wait until Liège–Bastogne–Liège, the race that marks the end of the spring classics.

Amongst the others with no wins:

  • Ag2r – La Mondiale’s manager Vincent Lavenu perpetuates a cycling version of Moneyball, racing by spreadsheet to place riders in the top-10 for points whilst wins, glory and panache are often absent.
  • Astana must be worried because Vinokourov was supposed to retire last year but stayed to lend his ranking points and ensure the team qualified for the World Tour, but now the team needs points from its existing riders (or new signings made in the course of the year).
  • Lampre – ISD is a surprise, a team with a sprinter like Alessandro Petacchi would normally have won something plus Damiano Cunego expertly raises hopes of renewal each year with an early season win but this has not happened for the Lombard squad so far.

Compare and contrast
Omega Pharma – Quickstep top the table above but sit in 13th spot on the UCI’s team rankings. Meanwhile Radioshack-Nissan top the UCI rankings but only have two wins to their name.

Also note the accumulation of points. So far Radioshack-Nissan are scoring points 312 times faster than Saxo Bank. The UCI keeps changing its secret internal scheme to rank teams on “sporting merit” in order to qualify for Pro Team status amongst the top-18 teams but the top three squads are not far from securing their place for 2013 already.

The table above lists the top-18 teams but one squad is missing: Euskaltel-Euskadi. The orange-clad team has yet to win a race and worse, have yet to win a single point. The only saving grace is that this is normal, the team is often the last squad to win a race but makes up for it once the hilly stage races begin. The Volta Catalunya starts today and their home Tour of the Basque Country is coming up. Still, with with its financial future in doubt, a more consistent approach would satisfy more sponsors.

One winning solution is to recruit a sprinter. Since most races end in a sprint, having a sprinter maximises your chance of a win. But a handful of sprinters take the majority of wins so this plan is not as easy as it sounds. Alternatively teams can focus on smaller races. A good example of both strategies is FDJ-BigMat. The French team has used neo-pro Arnaud Démare to win four races, fellow sprinter Nacer Bouhanni adds one more win and Rémi Pauriol took the modest Boucles du Sud Ardèche.

  • Talking of teams and their rankings, there is still no news on the future of the Saxo Bank team. Following Alberto Contador’s suspension the UCI has reviewed the squad’s Pro Team status amongst the top-18 but there’s no news on the outcome.

Summary
The table is worth a look but we shouldn’t dwell too long on this for now. Omega Pharma – Quickstep are having a storming start to the season but many will rate their season on the basis of the upcoming classics. Big budget squads like Astana and BMC should land wins in the coming weeks. Finally note the difference between winning and ranking, as exemplified by Radioshack-Nissan.

Andre March 19, 2012 at 11:17 am

Question
What happened to Garmin last Saturday? I think the best rider was Haussler placed 68. Was La Manie the reason for this bad result?

velofacts March 19, 2012 at 11:36 am

Also note that the quantity (and quality) of Continental Races (.1, .HC) is a factor. http://www.velofacts.com/2012/01/10/how-many-events-does-a-cycling-team-race-in-a-year/
That won’t be of much help to Euskaltel either

UCI rankings are only world tour I think. Therefore the low ranking of OPQS.
Vacansoleil was 17th last year, but scored well in the continental races

Dennis March 19, 2012 at 11:39 am

Andre: Farrar got dropped on Le Manie, on the descent I think. Haussler was hindered when Gilbert crashed.

The Tashkent Error March 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm

“In total there have been 90 wins for these teams. We can spot the “winner takes all trend” as over half of the wins belong to just three teams.”

19 Omega Pharma – Quickstep
12 Liquigas – Cannondale
12 Team Sky

19 + 12 + 12 = 43

that’s hardly “over half” of 90 :)

The Tashkent Error March 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Also, 19 + 12 + 12 + 7 + 6 + 6 + 6 + 5 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 2 = 89, so what gives?..

The Inner Ring March 19, 2012 at 12:30 pm

velofacts: yes, winning small races vs podium places in World Tour races.

The Tashkent Error: sorry, I used the CQ rankings for the source data but it turns out they haven’t adjusted for Contador’s suspension. So of the 90 wins, it’s actually 89 since one of Contador’s wins goes to Diaz the Argentinian. I’m fixing the data.

Tim March 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Quite surprised to see all the wins by OPQS is rewarded with 13th in uci ranking. Is this a function of a bunch of the wins being at smaller races? Two observations come from this. provides a good illustration of the upside of Fabian pulling Gerrans and Nibali to the line at MSR. Boonen has demonstrated good form and the team is going well but will the poor placing of their car in the caravan behind the race be a hindrance? Fabian will have his team car right at the front. I predict we will see him making quick changes to a fresh bike at the penultimate moments of RVV and P-R.

ave March 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm

This UCI ranking is strange, I’m pretty shocked.

Lotto Belisol is near the bottom, with Greipel alone winning three World Tour stages in Down Under and also two stages in Oman.
And they have another World Tour stage win in P-N by Meersman.
Don’t know what the 7th win is. (anybody?)

Radioshack’s two wins are Strade Bianche and the ITT in T-A, both from Cancellara, if I’m correct. (?)

yet, RNT have ten times as much points. I know Horner’s podium in T-A, Cancellara’s 2nd in M-S, etc. but still I find it just a tiny bit strange.

Zac March 19, 2012 at 6:24 pm

The reason Radioshack are the top team is because they won 2 or 3 of the overall team victories in some of the early stage races… This also earns the team points as well

The Inner Ring March 19, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Yes, we see how consistent finishes on the overall count for a lot. For the full explainer on points, take a look at this explainer: http://inrng.com/2012-race-calendar/#WorldTour

Ivan March 19, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Ave, I think Lotto-Belisol’s 7th win was Meersman at the Algarve, stage 1

Cat4Fodder March 19, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Is it safe to assume that teams built for Classics races are at a disadvantage from a point perspective? If this is the case, I do not like it. I could be persuaded to a different position, but for now, team wins are a joke. No one walks away from a race chanting on about how good on average a team did in a race if their top placing was 8th.

I just wish the points were more consistent with the actual results that fans care about (i.e. – wins). Otherwise, it creates these awful incentives for teams to race not necessarily to win, but to accumulate points, which AG2R (if there were ever a nondescript team, this would be it). When I see a team like Aqua-Sapone constantly in the race, always present at the front and attacking, not getting a chance to race the Giro, but AG2R will be an automatic invite…this shows why the current points system is broken.

Jaas March 19, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Euskaltel – Euskadi at Paris Roubaix…that is some lambs to slaughter right there

daniel March 20, 2012 at 12:47 am

The points system is just a total mess.

There are so many things wrong, but the most striking is the points for WorldTour stage races.
Winning Beijing or the TDU gets you 100 points. That’s the same as the Dauphiné, Suisse, Romandie, Pais Vasco, Pologne. Also all the monuments are 100 points each, while other one-day races are 80.

There should definitely be a different tiering system. How does winning TDU get you as many points as a podium in the Giro?! Its ridiculous enough they get the same as the Dauphiné winner. And winning Vattenfall or Ouest-France is worth only 20 less than Roubaix or De Ronde.

Crazy. And that’s not even starting on the UCI secret ranking, or the fact that the Spanish teams are forced to ride the cobbled classics while Landbouwkrediet and Veranda’s can’t get an invite to Roubaix.

The WorldTour just isn’t workable on any real level. A simple idea to make it better would be if it included ten teams who had dynamic enough squads to justify inclusion in all these disparate races, while the other eight had guaranteed invites to all the races, but they could turn down the invites if they didn’t want to risk life and limb over the cobbles or had no interest in riding 3 grand tours every year.

Zinoviev Letter March 20, 2012 at 2:49 am

Ag2r are getting a bit of unjustified stick here. They are a team with a bunch of strong riders but nobody who is likely to be a consistent winner, but that’s hardly unique. They do go in a bunch of breakaways and when it comes to the Giro, the race someone above thinks they shouldn’t be at, they are actually very good. Gadret won a stage and came fourth on the road last year (since upgraded to a podium place!). If winning a stage and getting on the podium doesn’t justify your presence, I’m not sure what exactly you are supposed to do!

It is ridiculous that Euskaltel have to ride the cobbled classics, when they clearly don’t want to be there, the organisers don’t want them there and they are taking up a place that some other team could get. But the Landbouwkrediet situation isn’t just down to them. The ASO had no less than seven wildcards to give out and it took some odd decision making by them for the Belgians to get left out.

I’m not sure that having a certain number of teams with the right to go to ever race but not the duty really makes sense. Having the right but not the duty is clearly a better position for the team, so you’d actually be punishing the better 10 teams as compared to the smaller 8.

Zinoviev Letter March 20, 2012 at 2:54 am

Cat4Fodder, yes, the World Tour points system drastically undervalues the big Classics. It also undervalues stage wins at stage races when compared to mediocre GC placings.

The most overvalued results are GC placings in week long races. Get a rider in the GC top 10 at most of the week long World Tour races and you are a long way towards maintaining your World Tour status without necessarily coming close to an important win.

Bundle March 20, 2012 at 9:43 pm

The World Tour is rubbish.

Curious? March 20, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Where would 1t4i land in the table?

Although 1t4i is a Pro Continental team (by 4 points and a delayed Contador trial) and only invited to a fraction of the race calendar, they have won or placed in a significant number of races this season. What if…?

Maybe the UCI should throw out Saxo and move 1t4i up.

The Inner Ring March 21, 2012 at 8:26 am

Curious: the UCI’s public rankings are different from those used to determine whether a team like 1t4i would join the World Tour. Instead the UCI uses an internal ranking which, whilst shared with the teams, is kept secret from everyone else.

At a guess, 1t4i would be close to moving up but as much as Kittel and Degenkolb are winning and landing impressive results, the team might need to place a few more riders in the top-10 of a stage race to win more points.

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