Team Victory Rankings

Monday, 19 February 2018

With a brief pause in the racing today, here’s the first look at team standings in 2018 and as ever a chance to look at the squads and stories around them.

Quick Step are on 10 wins and again top the table. Once again their distribution of podium places is remarkable as they’ve only had two second places and four third places and Elia Viviani has had an excellent to the season. So far so good but this weekend is openingsweekend in Belgium and the team is often judged against its performances in the spring classics and we’ll see how they fare post-Boonen. Probably the same as usual because if Boonen was a figurehead they tended to race by numerical superiority, putting as many riders as possible into the final phase of the race and with the likes of Philippe Gilbert, Yves Lampaert, Zdeněk Štybar and Niki Terpstra among others they’ll keep doing this.

Team Sky are next on nine wins with six wins across the Ruta Del Sol and Volta ao Algarve stage races last weekend as well as two national titles in Colombia with Sergio Henao and Egan Bernal who also won the newly-promoted Oro y Paz stage race which has all the ingredients to become a fixture on the calendar: local popularity, good roads, a suitable calendar slot and if they’d polish the TV production it’d be perfect. All this and nobody is talking about Chris Froome.

Mitchelton-Scott’s eight wins show balance but hint at problems too because of their eight wins a mix has come from sprinter Caleb Ewan and from GC success like Esteban Chaves in the Herald Sun Tour. It’s successful now but what happens in a grand tour when they have to pick between Chaves and the Yates brothers and then explore whether to bring Ewan along too and if so the allocation of rider resources to GC and sprinting? A nice problem to have and if some support riders can do both but expect other teams to make siren noises behind the scenes this spring to Ewan.

Tim Wellens

Lotto-Soudal are enjoying a solid start to the season but they often do only to vanish in April when they’re racing on home soil, it’s been ages since they’ve won a big spring classic. But they’ve just won a stage race with Tim Wellens, a rarity for them too although Wellens won the Eneco Tour in 2015 (pictured). It was “only” the Ruta Del Sol but Wellens didn’t win thanks to a trademark bold attack, instead he matched the best – and attacked them – on the summit finish stage, then he rode the field off his wheel on an uphill finish before holding his own in the final time trial.

BMC Racing are on five wins but two stand out. First Jürgen Roelandts has found winning ways again after all those years. There’s a picture of him losing out to Preben Van Hecke in the Belgian national championships which sums up his struggles in the past but now he’s winning and will be a precious help to Greg Van Avermaet. GVA is the other win that stands out, he won a stage in Oman and rode everyone off his wheel and the kind of demonstration that makes him the rider to watch in this Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Meanwhile Richie Porte won his habitual stage Down Under. In the background is the team’s survival with Swiss billionaire and owner of BMC bikes Andy Rihs said to be pulling his funding for the team, so can team management secure sponsorship? They have to do this soon otherwise riders will get itchy feet and even inky fingers this spring.

Dylan Groenewegen has three of Lotto-Jumbo‘s wins and has had perfect start to the season winning stages and wearing the leader’s jersey in each of the two races he’s done. He’s still 24 and has room to improve, as does his team’s lead out and it’ll be interesting to see how they challenge the more established sprint trains and we’ll see more this Sunday when he goes for Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

Katusha-Alpecin are only one win thanks to Nathan Haas’s stage win in Oman which could be an important moment. Haas has often placed or featured in the final phases of a race but has few wins and if he start converting his presence in the finale into wins then Katusha will collect more. Having signed Marcel Kittel we might expect more sprint wins but the German powerhouse need not hurry, he’s being paid to win big rather than often. The squad are a curiosity as they try to escape their Team Kremlin image in a bid to create a cycling lifestyle brand with a more international roster and riding under the Swiss flag.

EF-Drapac have two wins, a stage win for Rigoberto Uran in the Oro y Paz and one for Sacha Modolo in the Ruta Del Sol, their new recruit sprinting well and Sep Vanmarcke looks to be coming to the boil once again but can he ever win big in the spring classics? Especially as Team Sky poached Dylan van Baarle in the midst of the team’s the autumnal sponsorship fiasco.

FDJ are on two wins thanks to Marc Sarreau, their back-up sprinter for Arnaud Démare. FDJ have a muscular lead out for Démare but it’s not very subtle, they pull hard on the front like the old HTC team rather than the current vogue of surging forward in the final moments to place their leader. Sarreau’s an interesting character, a fourth year pro but still 24 years old and if he’s mature in the peloton despite his young age he’s the same off the bike having become a father aged 19.

Team Sunweb have to keep challenging for that win as they’re the only team on zero. It’s unusual because in years past we could well in to spring like this. They have only once made the top three when Phil Bauhaus got a second place in the Tour Down Under but won’t be worrying because their top riders Tom Dumoulin and Michael Matthews have yet to start racing.

Pro Continental Teams

Slim pickings as ever in cycling’s second tier. Teams have to take the wins they can and for them it often is the taking part that counts as a wildcard invitation to a grand tour can deliver the TV airtime they crave so Direct Energie, Team Fortuneo-Samsic, Wanty-Groupe Gobert and Cofidis are all winners as they’ve been picked for the Tour de France. Back to the stats and Delko-Marseille-KTM have four wins including the surprise home triumph of Rémi di Gregorio in the Tour de la Provence. Di Gregorio was slung out of the 2012 Tour de France in a doping raid and dumped by Cofidis but once the headlines died down it turned out he’d turned out all he had was a kit to inject glucose which was stupid given the no-needles policy adopted by the UCI but since it was unused he won damages from Cofidis.

Cofidis have three wins thanks to Christophe Laporte, normally Nacer Bouhanni’s lead out but given his own chances. He’s a powerful rider with a mountain biking background and someone who could become very useful in races like Paris-Roubaix. Behind the scenes new manager Cédric Vasseur is putting his foot down, for example Bouhanni’s father is no longer on the team payroll as an advisor; previously he was on board to help reassure his son.

Vital Concept might lament their lack of a Tour de France invite but ASO don’t invite new teams to the Tour de France and Bryan Coquard just isn’t sizzling enough to make them break that rule. Meanwhile Rick Delaney and Aqua Blue Sport are also struggling for wildcards, billed as a “rant” in The Cycling Podcast, Delaney delivered a reasonable critique of his team’s problems and the sport’s structures.

Daniel Pearson Aqua Blue Sport

  • Methodology: all races *.1 and above count but the rider must be wearing their team jersey, so wins by Dimension Data and UAE-Emirates riders in the African and Asian continental championships don’t count as their riders were riding for their respective national squads that day, nor do Androni’s four wins this season as they’re all in *.2 races.
StevhanTI February 19, 2018 at 11:23 am

I Think you’re selling Tim Wellens a bit short here. He’s won a world tour stage race in the last four consecutive seasons. According to himself he’s the only rider currently active in the peloton with this particular stat to his name. I haven’t double checked but it does say something about his talent and consistence right? (and his ability to focus on races whose parcours and rider fields suit him particularly well)

Hammarling February 19, 2018 at 12:19 pm

Chris Froome has WT Stage Race GC wins going back to 2013 (thanks to Romandie 2014). So Tim Wellens might want to check his own ‘facts’, and i wouldn’t brag too hard about winning Guangxi just yet. And he’s massively out done in WT Race wins by a number of sprinters, classics riders and uphill stage winners.
But Tim must be respected as a clever racer who can deliver a great result consistently.

StevhanTI February 19, 2018 at 1:48 pm

Because I don’t like being wrong about verifiable facts I went to the sporza website and looked up the interview I was referring too. I remembered it incorrectly: actually Wellens stated (correctly) that he won 4 WT stage races in consecutive years, to that the interviewer replied that only Froome did better. Sorry for playing it quick and loose with he factoids, but that doesn’t affect my initial opinion 😉

StevhanTI February 19, 2018 at 1:49 pm
Netserk February 19, 2018 at 5:11 pm

Quintana has won at least one each year since 2013 as well.

gabriele February 19, 2018 at 2:04 pm

“Only Froome”?! I expected better from Sporza’s usually competent journos!

(I’m just joking, I guess the whole exchange was tongue in cheek or sort of, which means that it was more about a funny comparison than facts).

RonDe February 19, 2018 at 8:34 pm

Perhaps Wellens was living in his fantasy world where Froome wasn’t allowed to ride when he said that 🙂

gabriele February 19, 2018 at 10:59 pm

Maybe the “currently active” point was a polite advice about retiring… before it’s too late ^__^
Or avoiding any dangerous comeback.

(We’re all joking, I guess, as we now know that Wellens never said that part of the sentence)

gabriele February 19, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Wellens is one of my favourite riders, but his stats work only thanks to the Guangxi Tour. Not the sort of things I’d be boasting around.

Especially given that he never won more than one GC for season… and none of the rest ever were top-level stage races. Pologne, Eneco. Come on.
Not only those races are in the WT mainly for promotional reasons (although they aren’t as extreme as Guangxi – or even Down Under, which is obviously *way* better than the Chinese races but still isn’t as good as the above)… but truth is also that they’re more like series of one-off Classics-style stages. Which isn’t bad, it isn’t at all, I really love the concept, but you hardly can compare that to major stage races. Not saying it isn’t “as good” (they’re often more entertaining, especially in recent years). It has just different implications.

And, of course, the stats don’t make sense because he’s not the *only* rider, either.

Unless he thinks that Froome is going to be stripped of the 2017 TdF, besides the Vuelta, for the salbutamol case or… whatever. That would be fun, indeed, but I suspect that no rule would allow it. UKAD doesn’t look like USADA, not even by far.
Froome also went close to being kicked out by his annus horribilis in 2014, but he saved the day thanks to Romandie.

Quintana is easily in, he’s always won at least one WT stage race in every year of his pro career barring the very first one. That makes like five in a row.

But, yeah, I think that you nailed it with your last sentence, and I’d agree that he’s being a bit underrated sometimes, like “the peculiar guy who wins when it’s rainy”. He’s got a great natural engine as you notice by his early season wins and his lone actions, yet he must find a way to win big, which isn’t the easiest thing given his special qualities which, at least as far as we’ve seen until now, don’t look exactly tailored to any of the major races. Stage wins, sure, minor stage races – you’d think he could do better, but how?
Perhaps some hard Classic with horrible weather. I’d be curious to see him on the cobbles: he’s tasted the soft ones in the Brabantse Pijl and he’s going to try the Omloop this year. He never loved cobbles and always focused on Ardennes, but the latter have become so explosive – that is, merely reduced to a final uphill sprint – in recent years that he really needs to change the game to have an option (the same problem as Nibali’s).

Tovarishch February 19, 2018 at 1:16 pm

I think he’s including 2018, which means there isn’t a lot of competition.

gabriele February 19, 2018 at 1:24 pm

He didn’t win any WT stage race in 2018… 😉

Tovarishch February 19, 2018 at 3:42 pm

Duh – it was HC, wasn’t it? I’ll go away again!

Nick February 19, 2018 at 1:27 pm

The only WT stage race this year has been the TdU, and Darryl Impey won that.

RonDe February 19, 2018 at 8:42 pm

2014 was Froome’s “annus horribilis” Gabriele? I know its open season on the Kenyan-born Brit but in 2014 Froome:

Won the Tour of Oman (+1 stage to Green Mountain)
Won the Tour de Romandie (+ 1 ITT stage)
Won the points classification at the Criterium du Dauphine (+2 stages)
Finished 2nd in La Vuelta

I dare say Mr Wellens doesn’t dream of such a year and for most riders in the peloton that’s a dream season.

gabriele February 19, 2018 at 10:53 pm

The supposedly strongest GT racer of his generation, according to some, and surely the strongest in the second half of the ’10s… Tour of Oman? Dauphiné point classification? Let’s try to stay serious.

That would be a mediocre season which would leave unsatisfied any of the top current GT riders.

Nibali was criticised back in 2012 for “just” winning the Tirreno (>Romandie), the Padania (>Oman), *both* with points classification included (>only Dauphiné), and podiuming at the TdF (> Vuelta runner-up), besides winning… the mythical Green Mountain plus stages in all those short stage races. As a bonus track, he added up those petty podia in both Sanremo and Liège. Please note that in 2012 was “merely” a Vuelta winner and two times Giro podiumer, more or less what any Aru would be today. But more was already expected from him.
And you now watch back *with hindsight* to Froome’s 2014 and call it a *dream season*?

Sure it is a dream season, as you say, for “most of the peloton”, but that’s not what Froome is, not after late 2011 at least. I’d agree with you that 2014 would have been a dream for the old “Froome 1.0”, 2011 even looked bright for him with just the Vuelta 2nd place he’d then confirm in 2014! But if you look back now, and you consider what Froome became, 2014 was poor, to say the least.

Let’s have a look to another of our favourite riders, Quintana (Nairo). I guess you’re still clapping your hands with enthusiasm at his 2017 “dream season”. He was Giro runner-up winning a stage (> Vuelta), won Tirreno with a stage win (> Romandie), won Valencia with a brutal stage win (> Oman), and won some another stage dunno where. And he nearly won a Tour stage while trying the double!

Any of Wellens’ seasons since his neo-pro years would be enough to be a *dream* for *most of the peloton*. 200+ guys racing together and very few of them win anything at all. That’s how cycling works. And that’s why you judge its athletes depending on their own status, not the peloton’s.

RonDe February 21, 2018 at 4:16 pm

As we both know Gabriele, Froome crashed at the Dauphine, which he was going to win, and the Tour… the outcome of which we disagree about. Its entirely feasible its a “bad year” due to two crashes. Hardly something to build grand arguments on. I look at the Froome of 13 and 15 and find the crashes more significant than the results of 14.

gabriele February 21, 2018 at 6:34 pm

Go on dreaming… facts tell a different story.

There’s plenty of race you can have a great performance in, throughout the year. Bring the form elsewhere if you don’t win the Vuelta, the Autumn calendar is rich.
Froome looked like he lost the 2014 TdF before it even started. Then trying to argue that he’d win that Dauphiné if he didn’t fall is the pettiest argument, as if that race wasn’t won through tactics – in fact, the strongest man didn’t actually win, he just proved he could destroy Sky’s catenaccio.

However, whatever the reasons (and I strongly doubt that they were a couple of falls), 2014 stands out as an annus horribilis in Froome 2.0’s career. You were defending that it was a dream season for most of the peloton and listed a very poor series of results – several of which next to meaningless – as if it was something Froome could be proud about.
Neither was it a dream season for a top rider like Froome, nor does that point make any sense because that sort of difference is inherent to cycling itself.

Enough said.

gabriele February 19, 2018 at 12:09 pm

Ag2R scooped up the early national calendar with two classical French former GC hopes now more promising as lieutenants, namely Geniez and Gallopin. Bardet barely raced, coming from winter ski training (not as much as Pinot, who really impressed on the snow in one of the most selective cross-country races), but he looked relatively good in La Marseillaise. Anyway, showing up was a nice way to promote the national calendar, whose minor races tend to struggle in every country. Naesen promises to be among the best come the Classics season but he wasn’t very visible, barring his open criticism toward the Froome situation.

Astana impressed in Oman with Mapei ways (I guess others would name Gewiss ^__^) but Hirt and Superman López were widely expected to be good. Luisle Sánchez had a great start of the season, trading races with friend Valverde and ultimately bagging their common home race in Murcia. Sánchez was impressive in the mountain top finish in Andalusia, too, but he looked like he progressively ran out of gas. The best news, besides glimpses of class by López and solid gregari on show, was the dominant win by Moreno Moser in Laigueglia. The field was quite poor but the action was dazzling. He then went again in undercover mode, but any cycling fan should hope that such a talent doesn’t go lost, as it seems about to happen in recent years. Cort Nielsen is another young talent in the team who must go on growing: he started strongly last year, too, but he failed to keep his early promises. Fuglsang looked already solid although he never shone: fine if it’s a soft start, less fine if it’s just a further manifestation of his usual approach.

Movistar, guess what, is Valverde and Quintana – but not *that* Quintana, this time. Younger brother Dayer won in Colombia while Nairo failed to defend the jersey against a bold move by Bernal, who went from far counting on Henao, covering his back in the favourites’ group. Some had predicted that Nairo would have man marked Urán, allowing room to other rivals, and that’s precisely what happened. However, the Colombian race was spectacular, as inrng points out above. Valverde came back from his serious injury and long months without races in its usually dominant fashion. He looked good in Mallorca, even if he couldn’t win because of an excess of attacking spirit (imagine that! Valverde is clearly a case of Jekyll and Hyde racing style depending on the competition) and a very apparent caution in the wet descents. In Valencia he simply crushed a very qualified field, blowing away the likes of Yates, Poels, Roglic, Fuglsang on the uphill finish or leaving behind Van Avermaet, Hermans, Moscon, Visconti, Rosa in the Classics-like stage.

Bahrain-Merida single victory by Colbrelli was notable. Nibali set him up, but those who expected the Shark to show up again on Green Mountain in the following Arab race, where he already won a couple of time in the past, got disappointed: Gorka Izagirre was apparently the GC captain.

Trek-Segafredo won a lot but they impressed less than others, maybe because their victories came in the smallest race. Yet, having Degenkolb back to winning ways would be great. Consistent Nizzolo delivered a rare win but he too needs to raise back to his level after a difficult 2017. Mullen and Mads Pedersen victories are promising, since we’re speaking of very young and extremely talented riders, just as Portuguese Ruben Guerreiro solid showings, albeit with no wins, against top-level rivals. Brambilla looked good supporting Moser in Laigueglia (they raced for the Italian national team) and Mollema showed up in Algarve, too.

Hey, wait, I just became aware that you should take away Moser’s win from Astana’s counter. Or did I get something wrong?

The Inner Ring February 19, 2018 at 6:13 pm

Good extra coverage and agreed it’s interesting to see Moser back again, can he sustain this into the year? Was he in the Italian jersey in Laigueglia? I will update the chart soon to reflect this.

gabriele February 19, 2018 at 7:23 pm

Italian jersey, Astana bibs… and a Paolini touch with that beard and helmet (hoping it’s just and nothing else 😛 )×879.jpg

Note the great public, notable crowds indeed.

Eskerrik Asko February 19, 2018 at 6:50 pm

Pinot was 51st, in 2.42, 22 minutes after the winner of La Transjurassienne, Ivan Perillat, a world class skier. This may not strike everyone as impressive, but it truly is – especially considering it was Pinot’s first ever XC ski race.

gabriele February 19, 2018 at 7:42 pm

And he looked already pretty solid in his very first bike race, too, which was the Haut Var, a good race with a decent field, albeit quite much national…
Making the cut of a twenty men selected group in the first stage, then again in the second stage when the cut was down to six, although he was in the second triplet when they split again before the line (but it was just a 3″ difference).
Keep an eye on 21 years old Madouas, his palmarés won’t have you screaming out loud, but the boy is talented.
XC ski was very typical winter training, than the new wave of sport scientists (even before Sky) started considering that it made you less explosive for the 15′ efforts which many would like cycling being reduced into.
I’m not a coach at all, but I guess that… as it belongs to the *old cycling* it must be awfully bad! (obvious sarcasm alert)

The Inner Ring February 19, 2018 at 8:08 pm

XC skiing and cycling have a good crossover, there are quite a few in the peloton who do both but not few race in the winter (some rider contracts say no skiing even). There are lots of XC skiers who cycle in the summer too. But it is different with the long powerful movement in the legs rather than the high cadence.

Madouas’s father rode the Tour de France and his mother is a sports scientist so he’s got some DNA and culture there.

Anand February 20, 2018 at 12:25 pm

Best crossover from cycling to winter sports surely are speed skating?
There are numerous athletes from both that crossover over the seasons.
Most remarkably as I can think of right now, is Haavard Lorentzen (N) that just won 500 m speed skating in the olympics. He whooped ass with Bystrom in aged classes up to junior, and Bystrom is now a WT-rider for 4-5 years and previously U-23 world champ.
Clara Hughes, Eric Heiden, Christa Rothenberger, some russian – Sabelinskyi or smthng can’t remember.

Ecky Thump February 19, 2018 at 9:44 pm

Old skool – we must be talking Madiot here, are we?
Is he an advocate of XC Ski-ing?

Eskerrik Asko February 20, 2018 at 11:02 am

Madiot certainly didn’t expressly forbid one of his trusted domestiques, Jussi Veikkanen, from XC-skiing.
The consensus among both coaches and cyclists is apparently that the free technique is preferable to the classic. It may be only received wisdom with no studies to support it but it strikes me as true: (C) is much more of a mostly upper body exercise, especially nowadays when it is 99% double poling.
PS The subject comes up rather naturally every winter here in Finland (where the approach ranges from 100% indoor training to 90% skiing with as many weeks in Spain as one’s schedule and budget allow for both groups), but according to Lotta Lepistö’s coach there is no relevant sports scientific study or comparison, so everyone is more or less entitled to their opinion on the basis of this or that theory.

The Inner Ring February 20, 2018 at 11:09 am

Madiot’s a big advocate of CX, he used to hold the pre-season training camp in his home village and get everyone doing CX. There’s famous video of Wiggins wiping out in the mud

Augie March February 19, 2018 at 1:42 pm

Haas showed more emotion after that one win in post race interviews than Ilnur Zakarin has in his entire career, so I’m sure K-A will be happy. And with the Olympics happening, even Chris Froome has had to surrender the headline space to Putin’s doping army, so Katusha’s move to Switzerland looks like a canny one.

gabriele February 19, 2018 at 2:57 pm

I’m sure we’re all comfortable with getting emotional nuances in Russian when spoken by a native.

Tovarishch February 19, 2018 at 3:43 pm

He does somewhat lack emotion.

The Inner Ring February 19, 2018 at 6:19 pm

There are not many Russian speakers in the press room or holding a TV microphone for the translations which means communications are harder and often the translation has made interviews slow and dull. Not that he’s Mr Charisma either but he’s alot happier in Russian interviews, eg

Othersteve February 19, 2018 at 8:04 pm

Wonder why we see no mention of any pro racing events in Russia.
It must exist in pro-conti or ??

Anyone know?

The Inner Ring February 19, 2018 at 8:13 pm

There’s not much high level racing in Russia at all and a reason why the likes of Katusha, Gazprom and Itera-Katusha exist/have existed as a means to take their riders into bigger races. But there are plenty of races below the pro level and a conveyor belt of U23 riders.

There was talk of the GP Sochi getting promoted into a big race but the Russians had a falling out with the UCI around the time the Katusha team had its licence suspended.

Tovarishch February 20, 2018 at 1:31 pm

The Five Rings of Moscow is a 2.2 event held over the May Day weekend. It is quite fun with a mixture of the Olympic track and closed roads in the centre over 5 days.

Richard S February 19, 2018 at 2:38 pm

I’m a bit surprised that Michael Matthews hasn’t started racing yet as Milan-Sanremo is always a big target for him and he wants to be a major player in the classics. All/most of his big rivals for the classics have shown some sort of form so far already. Maybe he is playing it cool and hoping to peak for Amstel Gold/Liege?

Augie March February 20, 2018 at 5:20 am

Apparently he’s going to start in OHN, but his usual aim is the Ardennes.

notyod February 19, 2018 at 3:48 pm

Interesting to see these victories in terms of later WT rankings as this or any coming year may once again end with race to avoid bottom. However sponsor crapshoots might just take care of that..

RonDe February 19, 2018 at 8:58 pm

Given that team Sky have “invested in the future” a great deal over the last 6 months acquiring Lawless, Halvorsen, Sivakov and the already prodigious and instantly likeable Bernal, all this Froome nonsense is really a PR kick in the teeth. Imagine the headlines now with Bernal’s win, Kwiato, Thomas and Poels all fronting up at races. What a happy, smiling bunch they’d appear. In many ways, and I don’t say this lightly, they need to get rid of Froome and let the youngsters (and those who haven’t had the chances due to Froome) write a new narrative. But we all know Brailsford is not that kind of guy. He’s a “go down with the sinking ship” kind of guy. Sky have a bright future with their roster but the notion that the poo sticks to the blanket is go to dog them all their days. Maybe a re-branding in future? All tongue in cheek of course 🙂

Ross February 20, 2018 at 9:18 pm

Did Sky not only win 5 races last weekend? 3 in the Algarve (Kwiato x2 & Thomas) & 2 in Andalucia (Poels & De La Cruz)?

Whale Oil Beef Hooked February 20, 2018 at 10:46 pm

Brailsford et al, maybe with one eye towards a possible loss of a sponsor (could be business restructuring or PR related…) have assembled a roster brimming with potential to attract a replacement investor?

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