It’s a quiet week before the weekend storm of cobbles starting with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. This micro break gives a moment to look at the team victory rankings and see who’s had a good start to the season.
If you think it’s too early to count, think again. We’ve had 70 days of racing this year and that’s one eighth of the way through the season.
There’s been something for everyone so far with sprints, climbs, time trials, summit finishes with the exception of cobbles that are coming this weekend. Some points to note:
- Some teams have plenty of wins but almost everyone else has got something too, even Ag2r La Mondiale who often had to wait months have got a win. The exit of Euskaltel-Euskadi and Vacansoleil-DCM also means two perennial Team Gooseberries have gone
- Astana is the sole team without a win. House sprinter Andrea Guardini could change things in the upcoming Tour de Langkawi
- So far Lotto-Belisol = André Greipel. The German has collected all of the team’s six wins but of course it takes a team to launch him to the win so his success is built on the sacrifice of others
- Greipel’s six wins means he leads the individual rankings too
- Michał Kwiatkowski has helped put OPQS in pole position with four wins this season, this time last year they were third with Mark Cavendish taking six of their eight wins
- Belkin have one win but this time last year, with the Blanco jersey, they had ten
As usual the warning that quantity and quality are different and often opposing values. There’s yet to be a race with big TV coverage offering publicity and prestige. But these early wins matter, they help team morale and stop the embattled feeling and pressure to win that teams with a blank record begin to feel as time goes on. Early season success doesn’t automatically segue into big wins in the spring classics, see OPQS last year who scored plenty of wins before March but “only” got one podium in the Monuments and Ardennes races thanks to Niki Terpstra’s third place in Paris-Roubaix.
The Tour Down Under has been the only World Tour race offering big ranking points. But note a rider and team’s Sporting Value are based on points won in all races all season long so riders and teams are fighting hard for these wins.
Finally the rankings for the second tier Pro Continental teams. Wanty-Gobert lead thanks to four wins in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo race in Gabon, a race that’s a useful boost for others with MTN-Qhubeka and Caja Rural each winning there too. As you can see the big World Tour teams have taken most the success and will continue to do so but we should expect to see the likes of NetApp-Endura and IAM Cycling win in the coming weeks and months.