Team Victory Rankings

Monday, 28 May 2018

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
mendip5000 May 28, 2018 at 7:55 pm

I realise info would not be perfect, but it would be interesting to see a ratio of team budget per win. Quick Step look good value. Brand Alignment with Lidl, perhaps?

The Inner Ring May 28, 2018 at 8:36 pm

I wish I could but it’s near-impossible without resorting to estimates in several cases, only a few teams publish accounts/budgets in public and a handful may mention it during interviews. The UCI does get the data for the licence application/renewal process each year but it’s kept private.

not yoda May 28, 2018 at 9:00 pm

Rather surprised that Aqua Blue has slim pickings in terms of wins.

Paul May 29, 2018 at 2:45 pm

They were given very few wildcards this year

Terence May 30, 2018 at 1:17 pm

Surprised by this too. Is this evidence that a team only performs at that level if their riders want to show themselves to get one of the spots on the team for a grand tour? I don’t think it is. They have put in some great rides in the classics and other races i’ve seen them, and Dunbar looked impressive during the Tour de Yorkshire.

Chris_SK May 30, 2018 at 8:55 pm

I doubt it has anything to do with transparency. Everyone already knows wildcard places will always be distributed around domestic based teams first, and foreign based teams second.

plurien June 4, 2018 at 10:55 am

Simply put, that’s true but a pro-conti team with in-country clients and suppliers to entertain will make better use of hospitality and the race village, which gives them more value to the likes of ASO. They get the nod.

Shawn May 28, 2018 at 9:10 pm

BMC aside, do all other WT Teams have sponsorship sewn up?

The Inner Ring May 28, 2018 at 10:02 pm

Mitchelton-Scott remains to be seen, they want an outside sponsor rather than Gerry Ryan and Dimension Data may have concerns if Deloitte are moving (if, all we have is one source saying this although the journalist who published the story, Raymond Kerchoffs, has more scoops than a gelateria).

Larry T May 29, 2018 at 7:58 am

I think Beppe Conti rumored Pinot to be going to SKY? That would fit with Brailsford’s hubristic quip about winning LeTour with a French rider.

RonDe May 29, 2018 at 9:05 am

Perhaps Sir Dave meant Froome was going to take French citizenship? 🙂

Larry T May 29, 2018 at 7:55 pm

Froome a Frenchman? After this Giro I wouldn’t rule anything out! 🙂

The Inner Ring May 29, 2018 at 9:10 am

Brailsford has tried before but not sure Pinot would fit in.

RonDe May 29, 2018 at 10:12 pm

Wasn’t it put about that Sivakov was taking (or has taken) French nationality?

The Inner Ring May 29, 2018 at 11:21 pm

It’s been mentioned before but the last I heard was he didn’t want this or if he does get nationality he would still ride for Russia (for readers unfamiliar Pavel’s parents are Russian but his father rode for a French team, Pavel grew up in SW France).

van G May 29, 2018 at 2:00 pm

If that was truly his goal, I wouldn’t bet against Brailsford… It wouldn’t be Pinot though.

RQS May 31, 2018 at 10:40 pm

Wouldn’t Bardet be a better bet. Pinot’s short comings are well known. Bardet has room for development, and could be shaped into an autre ciel.
To be fair Bernal looks like the real deal, though he’s a bit young for GT success right now.

Tug Wilson May 29, 2018 at 9:11 am

Quick Step are an interesting phenomenon. They have clearly prioritised number of victories over, say, grand tour victories. They never come close to winning a grand tour but, obviously due to location, focus on Belgian classics and go for stage wins in the 3 week races. But it makes you wonder what people like Jungels or Alaphilippe are doing there who potentially have stage race ambitions or why the likes of Dan Martin ever went there. And its clearly a different philosophy to a team like Sky who would be quite happy to win grand tours every year and sacrifice the number of overall wins in the process. It seems that teams have to decide what they want to win otherwise you spread yourself too thinly.

Richard S May 29, 2018 at 11:24 am

QS are interested in winning all the classics, so that includes the Ardennes Classics, Lombardy and other hillier semi classics. To that end they employ riders who are good at those kinds of races, such as Alaphilippe, Jungels, Dan Martin and in the past the likes of Paolo Bettini, Stefano Garzelli, Michele Bartoli and Oscar Camenzind (as Mapei). Its worked pretty well for them, Alaphilippe and Jungels this year, and I’m sure they get paid well. Alaphilippe has struggled on the not especially mountainous Paris-Nice to stay in the hunt on GC, and although Jungels has a couple of good results at the Giro it would be a stretch to see him ever winning it (still less the Tour and uber Mountainous Vuelta). Fair play to them to sticking to what they are good at as opposed to trying to force their square peg physiological attributes into a round hole. It must be tempting for Alaphilippe, and he is unusually good at TTs for a Frenchman (!), but he struggles on long climbs. He’s best suited to the role Jalabert occupied in the 90s of winning a couple of stages and wearing yellow in the first week.

Roelof May 29, 2018 at 9:46 am

Too bad Roompot hasn’t booked any victory yet. Apart from this, I cannot complain about the current state of Dutch professional cycling.

Pilgrim May 29, 2018 at 10:26 am

Katusha-Alpecin have flown under (or should that be over?) the opprobrium radar this year but Kittel and Zakarin are going to need to go some to get a return for the season. Looking through their squad it’s more ‘meh’ than Dimension Data

Gervais May 29, 2018 at 3:45 pm

I think lotto would take Wout van aert over Greg van avermaet .

RQS May 31, 2018 at 10:49 pm

Good point. I don’t think it’s going to be long before he joins a World Tour Team. I’d like to see him join Bora or QS as he can get the support to win the Classics – though I can see him being over shadowed at both teams. His next step is going to be pivotal to his career. Trek may offer a
good development ground – money and a good level of support/competition may drive him on. Though spiritually the Lotto teams may offer something closer to home.

Tovarishch May 29, 2018 at 4:05 pm

I thought I heard that Thomas has agreed to stay at Sky.

Chris May 29, 2018 at 5:06 pm

If he is, money aside I wonder what they can offer him? I really don’t think he has it in him to win the Vuelta, much less the other 2 GTs, but I gather that he thinks he can do it. Are Sky still backing his ambitions or has he accepted a “lesser” role?

Tovarishch May 29, 2018 at 7:42 pm

He says he is targeting the Ardennes Classics next year.

BenW May 30, 2018 at 1:39 pm

Only about 5 years too late, in other words. A real shame, I think he could have done something by now.

RQS May 31, 2018 at 10:56 pm

It seems forever since Thomas did anything of note, but it was only last year he was wearing yellow in the Tour.

Pilgrim May 29, 2018 at 5:33 pm

Thomas is a strange one. The heart says he’s been an absolutely vital part of the Team Sky train for years now through both classics and grand tours. Plus of course two olympic golds on the boards.

But the head and the tale of the tape tells a different story. In terms of naked palmares, one grand tour stage, one spring classic and two one-week stage race wins. It’s not much. I think he’s stuck at Sky. He’s 32 now – maybe he has 3 years left but would any other WT team take him as the undisputed leader? And if they did would he risk the step down in rider support and prep that might entail from Team Sky?

Augie March May 29, 2018 at 6:40 pm

Thomas seems to vacillate, he loves the spring classics but also wants to be a GC rider in stage racers, and potentially in Grand Tours. Unfortunately this isn’t the 1970 or 80s any more, and there is a world of difference between 65kg GT riders and 80kg cobble crushers in the modern peloton. So he could either bulk up or slim down and devote himself totally to one or the other, but seemingly wants to have it both ways, and ends up with less than he probably could have if he committed.

Ecky Thump May 29, 2018 at 6:10 pm

Continuing the theme of comparing this year with last and whether the reduction in team sizes has made a difference to results –
It wouldn’t seem so, as a brief summary.
The top team in May 2017 was Quick Step with 30 x wins, this year they’re top with 36. More a reflection perhaps of their all-round strength, good form and wolf-pack mentality?
The top three teams in May 2017 enjoyed a total of 79 x wins between them, this year that figure is 80 x wins.
The top seven teams had 126 x wins in total in May 2017, compared to 132 x wins in May 2018.

Of course, what these figures don’t show is that many of the wins are *extremely* hard-earned – think Mitchelton Scott’s Giro – and having one rider less is definitely a major factor in that.
Quality not quantity, in other words.

BC May 29, 2018 at 6:19 pm

Personal view only.

Grant Thomas is a good strong all round rider who doesn’t excel consistently at the highest level at most of road racing’s requirements, climbing rouler or sprinter. He regularly suffers from bad days in three week events. He is accident prone, 32 years of age, to win needs to arrive alone. Not the best profile for a three week rider. His strengths are that he can ride the cobbled one day classics well, is an excellent team rider, has been a backbone of SKY since he turned pro.

I am surprised that SKY have not pointed out his strengths and weakness’s in black and white. Maybe they have. G could well be a rider who lives to regret his event choice’s of as a pro.

I haven’t the slightest idea what he has been doing since Roubaix ! Probably stuck up a mountain. Teide, in Tenerife.

Tovarishch May 29, 2018 at 7:46 pm

Particularly odd as he reportedly hates that sort of training and feels it actually makes him worse. I think it is Sky that have persuaded him he is a GT contender, which doesn’t square with anything we have seen from him. They do have a record of ruining promising British riders, though.

RonDe May 29, 2018 at 9:35 pm

Yes, what a pig’s ear they’ve made of that Froome fella! Haha!

Tovarishch May 30, 2018 at 1:25 pm

There are a whole list of British riders with Sky who I am sure dcould have been more successful if they hadn’t had the super domestique role; Swift, Kennaugh, Rowe, Stannard and now we have Doull, Dibben and Hart.

George Vest May 30, 2018 at 4:08 pm

We are in the realms of speculation, of course, but I’m not at all sure that the riders you mention would have been more successful elsewhere. Swift is not quite fast enough; Kennaugh not quite consistent enough etc etc. Rowe and Stannard are typical classics specialists, who then naturally get roped in as superdomestiques for the flat stages in the GTs, as is the case for plenty of beefy Belgians in other teams.

Thomas does seem to be at a slightly higher level, who may have achieved more if he’d specialised in one or other role, but a) this is by no means certain, and b) is it his fault of Sky’s that he’s tried to do both for the last few years? I don’t know the answer, but if he’d said that he wanted to prioritise the classics would Sky really have said no?

noel May 30, 2018 at 5:12 pm

or maybe they are just a bit average…. likeable most of them for sure, decent track riders some of them, but average…
(average for a world tour pro that is… not average for mere (or lesser) keyboard mortals like myself obvs…)

Chris May 31, 2018 at 7:19 am

I’m in the same boat as George. In particular I think the prefix “super” is being thrown about way too much there, it’s not applicable to any of those riders. They are all standard domestiques and I can’t see any of them having got substantially better results if Sky threw their weight behind them. Luke Rowe is the only one there who I think might have more in him.

Richard S May 31, 2018 at 11:27 am

I see Rowe as a poor mans Thomas. Welsh, reasonably good at the classics but with no major results, no sprint so has to come in alone but unable to ride away alone. I don’t see him ever winning big other than in one of those situations where a relative outsider wins Paris-Roubaix. But even then Van Summeren and Hayman had better previous results. He’s a good strong rider to go for hours on the flat during the early stages of a race. I think Stannard had more potential, and better results with podiums at Sanremo and Roubaix, but he seems to be on decline now.

KevinR May 29, 2018 at 9:54 pm

The biggest problem Geraint Thomas has if he stays at Sky to pursue his GC ambitions is probably Egan Bernal. I know he’s young, I know he’s only won one one-week stage race but he already looks the part, so much so that even Chris Froome is probably looking over his shoulder just a little. Bernal aside, I can’t see Thomas ever winning a GT. His climbing isn’t up there with the best GC riders and he always has at least one jour sans over three weeks. Staying upright would help his cause though.

RonDe May 29, 2018 at 10:10 pm

Bernal will certainly be on the Tour de France team for Sky as their main guy once Froome is done. How long that is, who knows? If there had been harder climbs in Romandie he may have won that too. Rumour also has it he may be a domestique for Froome or A.N. Other in a few weeks time. I’d expect him to be given a grand tour leadership next year dependent on where/if Froome is racing in 2019.

None of this is good for Thomas who is getting older and has wasted his best years dithering about what he should do. Many thought he’d focused on his least likely successful outcome when he chose grand tours just as he was developing into a one day contender. My own view is that Sky should tell him he’s super domestique material, take it or leave it. However, we don’t know what has gone on and it may have been them trying to convert him. In any case, between too much “bad luck” and poor choices the Welshman looks likely to finish his career with less opportunities than he should have had.

Augie March May 30, 2018 at 5:43 am

Bernal is obviously a big talent, but the lesson of Andy Schleck should be that we should ease off on anointing 21 year olds who show climbing promise as the next great grand tour rider.

Sky originally had their eye on Simon Yates and would probably still be interested in one or both of the brothers. Plus unlike Froome they’re actually British.

PaulG May 30, 2018 at 8:41 am

….and your definition of British?

Petty, snide remarks are not required on this blog. They just lower the respect for any valid points you make.

George Vest May 30, 2018 at 9:01 am

Hear hear

Augie March May 30, 2018 at 5:18 pm

Settle, petals. It was a light hearted comment, not racial vilification. And there’s a basis in this, the great British public haven’t warmed to Froome like they did Wiggins, and the fact that he is really Kenyan who just races under a British licence is probably a factor in this. Sky is a British team with a British sponsor, so I don’t think it’s controversial to state that the sponsors would prefer a very British face of the team. Yes winning bike races is important, but pleasing the sponsors is arguably more so, as if you’ve been around pro cycling for long you might have noticed that sponsors are very fickle. Yes Sky could hire Pinot, but would they really want to? Would FDJ hire Simon Yates?

Read this for more context:

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/cycling/tour-de-france-2013-why-is-it-we-love-sir-bradley-wiggins-yet-find-current-british-tour-de-france-8711813.html

Francisco May 30, 2018 at 8:57 pm

Homework: explain the differences between Britain, Great Britain, the British Islands, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

maximflyer May 30, 2018 at 10:46 pm

@ Francisco
the explainer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNu8XDBSn10

weeclarky May 31, 2018 at 1:40 am

It’s a fair point. But having lived in South Africa [as a white Brit] for many years I was sick of all the white people who claimed they were ‘British’ because their parents were, and so had an easier passport. Of course, this is fair enough in principle, but really what they were saying was ‘I’m not actually African even though I’m from Africa’. Sometimes this went back 3 or 4 generations!

The thing that saddens me is that if he actually rode for Kenya, it would do the country a lot of good in terms of exposure etc. But he doesn’t. I find this very difficult to see past to be honest.

Chris May 31, 2018 at 7:31 am

@Augie I’d disagree that it’s Froome’s “Britishness” (or lack thereof) that means the Great British Public haven’t warmed to him. I reckon the average person in the street wouldn’t even known he was born in Kenya – if they knew who he was at all!

My take is that they just love a character more, and Wiggins is definitely that. He provides infinitely more media-friendly soundbites and images so gets surfaced to non cycling fans much more than Froome, who conversely is very reserved in what he says and does outside of races. Ever since he started to become successful at cycling Wiggins has very much been presented to the public as a media personality – Froome will likely always be an athlete.

RonDe May 31, 2018 at 2:38 pm

@Augie

There are a lot of things I don’t credit the British public with. But if you gave them the choice of designating Froome culturally British or Kenyan I think I know which they’d choose… and its not the one in Africa. Besides, Froome sounds more South African than anything else.

Not that any of this really matters anyway. Flag-waving is pretty much antediluvian.

Tovarishch May 30, 2018 at 9:19 am

Don’t forget Tao Geoghegan Hart, although it looks like he is being developed as Bernal’s wingman.

Tom May 30, 2018 at 2:14 pm

TGH is pure class.

Steve May 31, 2018 at 10:41 pm

I’m sick of Belgians like Bradt Wiggins and Sam Bennedt cruising on the great history of English and Irish cycling. Get your own mythology, Eurotrash!

Clare May 30, 2018 at 3:43 pm

Love the detailed analysis Mr INRNG! I’m a new-ish reader of your blog (and all the thoughtful comments) and just wanted to say thank you.

Retancourt May 30, 2018 at 11:45 pm

Long time reader, first time commenter (slightly in awe of the knowledge on show!).
I just wondered whether Geraint Thomas choosing to focus on road cycling relatively late has had an impact on his success and his development as a ride. As I recall in 2012 he concentrated almost entirely on track (due to the London Olympics and I think that he was 28 then. Maybe he would have done better if he’d concentrated fulltime on road cycling earlier?

J Evans May 31, 2018 at 3:51 am

If that reported 4 million contract was on the table during the rest day, S Yates should have taken it – although would anyone really be daft enough to offer that much two weeks into a three week race?

Augie March May 31, 2018 at 7:06 am

That was likely a rumour, probably started by Yates’ agent with an eye on his own cut.

KevinR May 31, 2018 at 8:03 am

This may sound fanciful and far/fetched but does anyone agree that Froome May also have been using the Giro to get the data to build his case against the AAF? The reason it crossed my mind was the Froome himself said he was being tested before and after every stage, which wouldn’t have happened as part of the random programme. Also he has been firmly making the point that it would be clear to everyone soon that he did nothing wrong, which to me sounds like he and Sky are confident they’ve got the proof they need to explain why he shouldn’t be banned.

RQS May 31, 2018 at 11:10 pm

Sounds far fetched to say he was gathering data in competition. So he supplies data which shows he’s failed another test?! That doesn’t disprove the first result, and only raises the suspicions of him cheating with the prospect of a ban and disqualification.

KevinR June 1, 2018 at 8:30 am

Well one of the big problems of proving his case is that it’s difficult to recreate the conditions that led to AAF. So what better way to do it than in a GT? I take your point about recording another AAF but the daily tests may have been conducted by Sky with independent specialist oversight. Recording a second official AAF may be deemed a necessary risk. As I said far fetched but it seemed odd that he would make a point of saying to the media – several times – that he was being tested before and after every stage and then to follow up with statements that the public will soon understand the reason for the AAF

Tedba May 30, 2018 at 8:48 pm

That is mostly twaddle… British people have warmed to Froome plenty… It has nothing to do with his parents out place to birth… Anymore than the half Australian, born in Ghent ‘wiggo’.

The difference between the two is that the coverage enjoyed by track cycling as a result of the Olympics and other global events had already made him a household name… Same with the other sky riders… Froome came from nowhere and was suddenly winning grand tours.

noel June 1, 2018 at 11:20 am

I think it’s the accent rather than parental history… a bit like Henman compared to Rusedski

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