With the Giro done a look the winners and losers on the victory rankings as well as some transfer talk.
Again Quick Step lead helped by ten wins from Elia Viviani, the most prolific winner in the World Tour peloton this year. Again they win far more often than they place, they have 36 wins and only 13 second places and 11 third places. Everything else being equal if they’re in the hunt for a win they’ll get it which is why when Max Schachmann was on the climb to Pratonevoso in the Giro and racing against Mattia Cattaneo and Rubén Plaza his win looked likely, not just because of his fluid pedalling style but because the stats suited him against two Pro Conti teams.
One year ago Sunweb had won the Giro but only taken six wins in the season so they’re on four now which is similar to last year. Will Dumoulin ride the Tour de France? He doesn’t need to for the team because Michael Matthews can win elsewhere for them in July and Wilco Kelderman should be worth watching in next month’s Tour de Suisse.
There’s a long tail of teams with slim pickings, the last seven teams have fewer wins combined than Quick Step. Katusha are joint-last with just three wins but Marcel Kittel should turn this around soon, some stage wins in the Tour de France and their season is a success, ditto if Ilnur Zakarin flashes up on the radar again in July with a stage win or better. EF Education First-Drapac will hope Rigoberto Uràn does what he did last year again and Dimension Data are counting on Mark Cavendish returning from injury for the Tour de France too. All World Tour teams have wins on the board but Ag2r La Mondiale, Dimension Data and EF Education First-Drapac are the three yet to win a World Tour race.
To compound Dimension Data’s troubles are reports that their co-sponsor Deloite could jump ship to become the replacement sponsor for BMC Racing and bike sponsor Cervélo is to supply Team Sunweb next year. Cervélo is now a Dutch bike company so linking up with Sunweb’s Dutch HQ sounds feasible. Deloitte moving? It’s possible and BMC could be a match given their safe, corporate vibe but will it happen? BMC need to be seen to survive so that their existing riders don’t head for the exit just yet and citing potential new sponsors with deep pockets is a good way to keep riders loyal (crudely: “we might have a rich sponsor, are you sure you want to leave?”). Still there’s a clock ticking here and it’s not the Tag-Heuer variety, another mooted sponsor for the squad. The Belgian press have long been linking Greg van Avermaet to Lotto-Soudal as the Belgian team has had a management shake-up with rider agent Paul De Geyter now in charge and keen to get them winning a major spring classic and GVA is the ideal local lad. But everyone would like to sign GVA, inking a deal is not the same.
Meanwhile several key riders are on the market. The Yates brothers are available, as is Caleb Ewan and just to retain them at Mitchelton-Scott is going to be pricey for a team largely bankrolled by Gerry Ryan. The Australian may enjoy forking out to win a grand tour and bringing on home talent like Jack Haig and Robert Power but the likes of UAE-Emirates and Trek-Segafredo are hungry for a GC leader too. Trek missed out last year when Fabio Aru left Astana for UAE-Emirates – with hindsight they’ve done well given Aru’s woes – but now they’re on the market for a leader. Meanwhile UAE are said to be interested in Simon Yates too, hardly a vote of confidence in Aru and Dan Martin but blue chip sponsor Emirates won’t be pouring in millions just to finish, say, seventh a lot. The Italo-Emirati team are on just five wins and looking at their own management shake-up with talk of hiring Trek’s Luca Guercilena to help them get results. Geraint Thomas is on the market and over the years has made noises about leaving in order to lead – Egan Bernal’s arrival won’t help – but has stayed put when offered a large new deal each time. Elsewhere Groupama-FDJ have their new sponsor and some Euros to spare, will they offer a new contract to Thibaut Pinot? Surely yes but will he want to stay if the future is linked to targeting the Tour de France rather than the Giro? Among other Frenchman Pierre Rolland is said to be talking to several French teams according to his agent, a return to Direct Energie?
This brings us to the Pro Continental ranks where Cofidis and Direct Energie lead the rankings with Cofidis showing signs of beginning to turn the ship around especially as Nacer Bouhanni has a win now although in the modest 1.1 GP Marcel Kint although this was achieved after being caught a crash and a very long chase, almost a team time trial, to get back to the bunch. The upcoming Dauphiné will tell us more about his sprinting form and it’s about all he’s got as a high level race test before the Tour.
For many of these teams just starting a race is a victory and wildcard invitations are what they live for. Aqua Blue Sport’s Rick Delaney has been outspoken on the lack of invites and this is understandable but risky. On a superficial level you can read it like someone who’s asked for date only to get rejected several times and then takes to social media to complain which can look rude and reduce future chances of an invitation. But perhaps that’s flippant, there’s jobs and millions of Euros at stake here. It all returns to a familiar theme where in order for a team to get picked they have be unmissable or from the home nation and preferably both. So Warren Barguil’s move to Fortuneo-Samsic meant an almost guaranteed invite to the Tour de France given his performance last summer and the team’s French nationality. To game the system you can start with a flag of course because nationality matters but it’s more to do with the roster, flying the Italian flag is one thing, bringing eight Italians to the Giro is better and while Delko-Marseille are 100% French they don’t have the roster yet to make them a must have in the Tour de France.
- Methodology: .1 UCI wins and above count and the rider needs to be racing for their team, eg Yukiya Arashiro’s win in the Tour de Taiwan was with the Japanese national team, Moreno Moser’s win the Laigueglia was done while wearing an Italian jersey so they don’t count for their teams