With the Giro taking a pause today, a look across the sport to count up the win rates of different teams. As usual the quantitative take gives us the numbers on the racing so far this season but behind the numbers are a variety of stories.
OPQS are where they were last year. They finished 2013 with 55 wins with Belkin next on 38. The Belgian team has a mix of winners with Mark Cavendish their top rider with eight wins.
This time Orica-Greenedge and Giant-Shimano are behind with FDJ next. Orica are having a great time and interestingly it’s all without much sprint success. When you look at their roster it’s packed with sprinters and lead-out specialists, the product of the Aussie track cycling conveyor belt. But only five of the team’s wins have come from bunch sprints. Break this down and there are two “sprint” wins for non-sprinter Michael Albasini and another for Simon Gerrans in the Tour Down Under when he clipped André Greipel.
To use a horrible term, “the narrative” says Team Sky are having a disastrous season with illness, crashes, riders being “parked” and more. But look at their 14 wins, that’s better than you thought, no? Their problem is one of expectations, they have not shone in the major classics and there are only four wins in the World Tour this year. Another five wins come from one race, the modest Settimana Coppi e Bartali. So, yes it’s well down on the haul this time last year.
FDJ are having a good time and this is a problem. They’re very reliant on Arnaud Démare and Nacer Bouhanni for wins. Only one other rider, Arthur Vichot, has won a race so far this year. Should Bouhanni move to another team then FDJ’s success rate would take a big hit as he’s got eight wins so far. Without Bouhanni they’d be alongside Europcar and Katusha. Bouhanni’s in talks with other teams – L’Equipe’s named Orica-Greenedge and Garmin-Sharp – but FDJ are scrambling to find the money and methods to keep him. Other teams manage to combine several sprinters, notably Giant-Shimano with Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb as well as several others but the situation is quite different: they’re not French. Démare and Bouhanni might have an eye on the classics but the Tour de France is the ultimate goal.
Bringing up the rear are Astana. The team has just five wins so far this year including the man of the moment, Fabio Aru. They were in a similar position last year too and it became a tale of quality over quantity with Vincenzo Nibali’s Giro win. But on another measure only Team Europcar have yet to win a race in the World Tour.
Rusvelo have had a surge, all their wins have come from April onwards. But all but one of the wins come from Russian races like the GP Adygeya and the Five Rings of Moscow. In other words lots of wins but when up against other Pro Continental teams in a deeper field the results don’t come so easy.
Next come MTN-Qhubeka and you wonder what they might have done in the Giro with a wildcard. We’ll see how they fare in the Vuelta. Next are Cofidis but of their six, two come from the modest 2.2 level Rhône-Alpes Isère Tour and it’s not befitting of the team’s substantial budget, if this carries on they’ll be breakaway fodder during the Tour de France; the same for Bretagne-Séché.
Looking at the chart and Australia’s Drapac have done well for a newly-promoted team but they too aren’t racing in Europe against the big squads. But what stands out is the paucity of wins for these second league teams. Collectively these 17 teams have 71 wins which is one fewer that OPQS, Orica-Greenedge and Giant-Shimano combined. Of course the World Tour teams want to win big but it’s clear they’re winning small a lot and often crowding out the smaller teams. A sponsor may consider backing a small team and hope to scoop up local race wins but this has to be targeted. For example Rusvelo win in Russia. The jackpot is a win in a domestic grand tour and this is why Bardiani-CSF are having such a great time: three wins but two in the Giro.
Last but not least is Team Novo Nordisk. Some teams would hate to be the peloton gooseberry but this is a team comprised solely of diabetic athletes and for them, showing they can participate is half the story. Not that they want a pat on a back for finishing a race, they’re hungry riders. It’s just competing is part of the point and they have a reduced talent pool to recruit from. They’ve come close to a win with Kevin de Mesmaeker’s third place in the Tour of California.
Methodology: only wins are counted. The include one day race wins, stage wins and the overall classification of a stage race. “Wins” of annex competitions such as points or mountains competitions are not included. UCI races from *.2 status and above are included.
Finally you might think there’s a big summer of racing yet to come and you’d be right but we are very close to the halfway point in the total number of racing days (1173) for 2014.