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Back Stories

There’s plenty of racing on at the moment, Friday will see five different international pro races happening plus the Tour de l’Avenir starts. Rider transfers announcements make the news too at the moment too. But what if the biggest stories were behind the scenes?

There’s the BinckBankTour, the Tour of Utah, the Vuelta a Burgos, the Czech Tour, the Arctic Race of Norway and the Vårgårda team time trial… and the Tour de l’Avenir as well. That’s just the racing and par for the course but at the moment there’s a lot going on that could shape the sport…

The rider transfer announcements keep coming but all the headline moves were trailed in advance. Mikel Landa will be Bahrain-Merida’s stage race leader, Vincenzo Nibali is going to Trek-Segafredo, Enric Mas to Movistar and so on, these were all stories that emerged long before they were announced. Similarly it’s barely news when Elia Viviani is going to Cofidis and Nairo Quintana is moving to Arkéa-Samsic although it’s still a surprise to see two stalwarts of the World Tour moving down to Pro Conti teams. Here’s one back stories here because both of these teams have ambitions to move up to the World Tour which is itself changing by expanding from 18 to 20 teams. Cofidis look certain to move up but “look” is the operative word as, assuming they clear the various administrative criteria, the formula for promotion is opaque. It’s not taken off the current team rankings based on a synthesis of team’s position over the last three years but good luck finding this ranking online or even the criteria as they’re not made public and team managers and a few ardent fans are running their own private spreadsheets. I suppose this adds to the mystique but in other sports promotion to the top flight is often a big deal, here it’s likely to be an administrative decision announced with a quiet press release in November.

Another similar story is that from 2020 onwards the top two teams Pro Conti teams – to be renamed UCI ProTeams next year – in the UCI World rankings (screengrabbed above) will get automatic invites to the World Tour races but they’re invites only, they can decline them so as not to overstretch their roster all year. So some teams who don’t want to ride all World Tour races but fancy doing the Tour de France are working on ways to get into the top two places, currently occupied by Wanty-Gobert and Total Direct Energie but the latter is considering a move to the World Tour as well, as is the next team Cofidis which means the second spot could go to Androni-Sidermec but Correndon-Circus is chasing, more on them in a minute. It’s all a game of moving chairs but one happening behind the scenes. But we’ll see, the idea behind this rule sort of made sense when there were 18 World Tour teams as it allowed two automatic invites and then two wilcards but if there were to be 20 World Tour teams with compulsory entry and then two with automatic invites that’s 22 teams and so no space available for others so perhaps this will be revised shortly but so far nothing’s public.

One big story is the future of the Katusha-Alpecin team, or rather whether it has a future. The story has been that the riders were informed they could look for a ride elsewhere for next year but the team still has assets of sorts in the shape of rider contracts for next year (a liability too, but “owning” riders like Nils Politt can be a bargaining chip too) and a World Tour licence. The squad continues to languish in the UCI rankings and there’s been all sorts of merger talk that the team could be folded into another squad. The Arkéa-Samsic one lasted about two hours before team boss Emmanuel Hubert said no way but from this emerged the idea that the team is being hawked around; there’s even been one story saying Bjarne Riis could pick up the reins. But mergers don’t work, it’s not like a company buying another to grow in scalke, the UCI has rules on maximum team size so if the remaining rump of Katusha riders is bolted onto another team then something has to give, riders would have to be let go. The knock-on effect of all this is that the uncertainty hangs over the sport in two ways, first whether there will be some key riders coming on the market or not and second whether there will be a World Tour freed up should the team stop altogether.

Katusha-Alpecin are sponsored by Canyon and this leads us to the next scenario which revolves around Mathieu van der Poel. He’s hot property to the point where an entire team could be built around him but in the meantime his Correndon-Circus team’s future is in doubt after the lead sponsor Correndon was bought, to cut a longer story short, by Sunweb. Normally two teams can’t have the same sponsor but there are ways around this; also Correndon-Circus and Sunweb probably won’t be merging as Sunweb have too many riders under contract already. Van der Poel doesn’t need to rush but other sponsors are busy looking at ways to tie things down at the moment.

Talking of Sunweb, another big story in the background is Tom Dumoulin’s future. He’s said to be leaving the team for Jumbo-Visma and things had reached the point where team owners were discussing a compensation or transfer payment. This is a big deal with a top grand tour contender but seems a contained matter for now with two teams involved and no outside offers from the likes of Ineos and Astana. A further backstory is the health of Dumoulin who looks set to sit out the Vuelta, hopefully this is precautionary rather than the sign of a chronic injury.

Conclusion
Sam Bennett’s having a fine time in the BinckBank Tour but “sprinter wins sprint” isn’t necessarily big news, especially by the time we get to August even if he’s won three stages in a row. Meanwhile there’s a lot going on behind the scenes and plenty of uncertainty with the Katusha team’s future in doubt and rescue merger talks for the squad having been held with several teams and this in turn brings the knock-on effects to the World Tour as several Pro Conti teams apply for promotion. Meanwhile the league table used to grade them is private and we should get the news in the autumn assuming the rules are not changed between now and then.

 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Neil Thursday, 15 August 2019, 11:17 am

    Love this blog, pedantry point: isn’t that the world tour rankings? Or have I misunderstood uci team groupings?

    Ps. 1989 part 3?

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 15 August 2019, 11:56 am

      They’ve had the World Tour rankings in the past but they were separate and there’s now just one big ranking called the UCI World rankings. Confused? You’re probably not alone, it’s hard to keep up.

      • DaveRides Thursday, 15 August 2019, 12:28 pm

        It’s going to get a bit simpler in the 2020 season, as the team ranking will be reset to zero at the start of the season.

        This means there will be no more transferring of points when riders switch teams, and that the race qualification ranking (for ‘top 2 ProTeams get invites to WT stage race’ rules etc) will be the same as the world ranking.

        • JEvanss Friday, 16 August 2019, 10:35 am

          Sorry DaveRides, I’m still confused.
          So, there will be two teams invited to individual races on the basis of being the two top non-WT teams (as shown in the list above), right?

          As for teams getting into the WT, that is currently based on a 3-year system (which is a bad idea – look at Pro-Conti [or whatever it’s called now/then] and they can be very good one year and very poor the next) and on a rankings system that is a mystery, right?
          So, you’re saying that this from 2020 will be based on the same rankings that we see above (used for the ‘invited teams’), right?
          And will it be based on 1 year or 3 years?
          Surely, 1 year is a better idea – who wants a team that was good 2/3 years ago? One example: Bardiani’s points under a 3-year system might be better than Androni’s – but Bardiani were rotten in the Giro and Androni were really good.

          Good that there will be no more transferring of points – that’s always been a nonsense.
          Having said that, I’d get rid of the whole points system – it results in teams riding for placings not victories.
          Then again, I’m with Larry T on this, I’ve always thought the races would be better off being entirely individual rather than grouped into an entirely arbitrary ‘World Tour’.

          Also, it makes you wonder why would a team want to be in the WT – better, if you have the cash/riders to do it, to make sure you’re one of the two top non-WT teams (admittedly not guaranteed) and thus go to the WT races you want and not the ones you’re not interested in.

          On a side note, with this system, will any non-WT team want to schlep expensively to Australia to ride a not-very-big race that their sponsors have zero interest in? (Sorry Australians, it’s just geography: not-very-big races in Europe are just easier to get to and have local sponsor interest.)

          • DaveRides Friday, 16 August 2019, 5:28 pm

            WT qualification is on the three year ranking. The system is not a mystery, they simply add up the individual points of the ten best riders on the team at the end of each season (2017, 2018 and 2019). You can do it yourself, the individual points rankings for previous years are all on the UCI website.

            I think the three year ranking is a reasonably good system for the purpose of qualifying WT teams, as it rewards teams which perform consistently and allows for a ‘safety net’ in the event of a generally good team having one bad year.

            The proposed automatic invites were to be on the one year ranking, perform well one year and you get rewarded with guaranteed race entries the next. I’d be surprised if this actually goes ahead, now that there’s a chance of additional WT team licences being granted instead.

            You’re right that it would be theoretically better to be the #1 ProTeam so you can accept/decline automatic invites at will, but it’s a precarious position as it would only take one year of poor performance to lose that position.

            The latest set of reforms have been generally good. The main criticism I would have is that all the WT teams are allocated in one go. The next set of reforms should introduce a staggered schedule so a third of the positions are open at the end of each year.

            Unlike Larry, I don’t have any illusions of pro cycling ever having been a romantic sport. It’s always been a business-sport, even Coppi was a ruthless professional. The WT system is just the latest incarnation in the history of the sport, and undoubtedly the least corrupt one to date. Those who put more into the sport get more out, whether that is the sponsor that pays to sign top riders or the race promoter that invests more to guarantee they get the top teams present.

            Teams which travel to Australia have their travel expenses paid. It would be a good trip for lower-ranked teams to make as it gives them a chance to demonstrate their commitment to the sport (by sending a worthy team) and reap the rewards of it (TV exposure at a time when there are no other races on at the same time, plus ranking points they can use to improve their position). The UCI has been in talks to add another couple of one day races so there’s more on the table to make that part of the season worth it.

          • JEvanss Friday, 16 August 2019, 11:41 pm

            Thanks DaveRides.

      • Kev Monday, 19 August 2019, 9:23 am

        Rohan Dennis……. where’s he going?

        Israel Cycling Academy ? Movistar ? Sunweb ?

  • Augie March Thursday, 15 August 2019, 12:27 pm

    Looks like we can look forward to many Katusha riders throwing everything at the Vuelta in order to secure a ride for themselves next year if it indeed seems like the team might be folding.

    I can understand riders like Viviani and Quintana tiring of fighting for support in terms with too many star riders, it’s often better to be a big fish in a small pond (and I’m sure by now Quintana is triggered by the word “trident” or probably even every time he sees a fork at dinner), but still not sure about Dumoulin. He’s the number one cheese at Sunweb and they’ve been building a team around his GC ambitions since 2015, why throw it all away?

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 15 August 2019, 3:49 pm

      We tend to see the outward reasons like a team in support but there can be things particular to the rider, eg a clash with a manager over something that’s not made public leading to a breakdown in the manager-athlete relationship etc, perhaps wage levels etc. These back stories rarely see the light of day.

    • RQS Thursday, 15 August 2019, 8:13 pm

      Would you really say that Sunweb have built a team around Dumoulin? I would say it is the opposite. They rely on Dumoulin to do something and haven’t really made any investment into a team capable of sufficiently supporting him. Michael Matthews is the only rider of note that they really have outside of himself.
      Jumbo Visma will certainly give him more competition for resources and better resources at that. If I was him I would definitely jump.

      • KevinR Friday, 16 August 2019, 9:33 am

        Tend to agree with RQS. Jumbo Visma are one of the few teams in GTs willing to challenge Ineos. Just not quite had a rider to finish it off.

  • Ecky Thump Thursday, 15 August 2019, 12:27 pm

    Any news on Richard Carapaz’ team of choice for 2020 please?

    • JEvanss Thursday, 15 August 2019, 2:22 pm

      It’s going to be Ineos. No idea why they’re taking their time – maybe he’s negotiating hard, if they didn’t settle this prior to the Giro (presumably nothing gets signed before August 1). I expect a raft of other signings for Ineos after their comparatively (the domestiques) weak team performance at the Tour.

    • R Thursday, 15 August 2019, 2:24 pm

      Seems to be universally known that he’ll be at Ineos, but don’t think there’s been anything official, yet.

      Even with Mas arriving, Movistar look light on GC riders for next year. Just Mas and maybe Soler? Quintana, Landa, Carapaz out and Valverde another year older. While Ineos have the opposite worry: Froome, Bernal, Thomas, Carapaz will all want leadership in a grand tour, while the likes of Sivakov and TGH won’t wait around forever. I suppose this year has shown that you need some redundancy when it comes to GC riders, with Ineos being led by Sivakov (Giro), Bernal (Tour) and TGH (Vuelta).

      • The Inner Ring Thursday, 15 August 2019, 3:47 pm

        It’s bound to be Ineos but Sky always announced their recruitment in September and onwards.

        • motormouth Thursday, 15 August 2019, 4:53 pm

          is Froome really expected to be riding for GC in a grand tour next year? that would be quite the recovery.

          • CA Saturday, 17 August 2019, 3:33 pm

            Motormouth – agreed. Unfortunately I think froome may never return to peak form again. Just like joseba beloki before him. He will lose a lot of fitness.

  • Ecky Thump Thursday, 15 August 2019, 12:42 pm

    Another question from me, I’m in an inquisitive mood today 😉
    To what degree is the influence of the major bike manufacturers (brands) a factor in the WT’s back stories?
    I’m thinking on two levels –
    1. On teams / riders; think Specilazed with Sagan and their association with the various incarnations of Quick Step? And now we have Canyon, are they pulling out of Katusha Alpecin to perhaps commit more fully to MvdP and his team?
    2. Driving styles of bikes and technology in the peloton?
    It seems that their influence could be very significant but it often appears to be discreet?

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 15 August 2019, 3:50 pm

      It’s a factor sometimes but only a handful of sponsors bring real weight and cash with it, the likes of Specialized can help shape big transfer deals, Ridley or Argon 18 a lot less to put it politely.

      • not yoda Thursday, 15 August 2019, 5:38 pm

        Van der Poel recently announced a 4 year (personal) contract with Canyon. Probably only Sagan has such a contract? Not many others have such a personal contract?

        • One Man Grupetto Friday, 16 August 2019, 10:57 am

          Not many others have persona contracts. but you can see the influence of bike manufacturers in placing riders on a team. E.g. Canyon has Sutterlin on Movistar as a German speaker, Houle on Astana for Argon 18, Schonberger on Neri Sottoli for KTM. Absolutely not to say those riders aren’t worthy of their spots at their respective levels, they’re all quality riders, but their nationalities make them outliers on those squads.

  • Sam G Thursday, 15 August 2019, 12:47 pm

    Sunweb seem to have a problem that they seem to loose a rider when they get good e.g Kittel, Barguil, Dumoulin. I have heard the management at Sunweb runs a tight ship. But they may want to reconsider their approach if winning riders continually fall out with the management to the point they want to leave.

    • Anonymous Thursday, 15 August 2019, 3:01 pm

      Not completely disagreeing with your point but Barguil? He’s regressed since he left.

      • RQS Thursday, 15 August 2019, 8:17 pm

        And Kittel has progressed?!

        • StevhanTI Sunday, 18 August 2019, 9:47 pm

          Well he wasn’t half bad at Quickstep

  • Andrew Thursday, 15 August 2019, 1:11 pm

    The Grand Tours generally have 22 teams in them; is that the same for all World Tour races or does it depend on team size?
    Is there a case for saying that now there are going to be more World Tour teams, they should be allowed to opt out of a limited number/combination of World Tour races? In this way, teams could choose to miss races where they have little interest or which would stretch their resources too thin, and keep open opportunities for ProTeams to be invited even if they aren’t in the top two under what opaque formula the UCI applies.

    • DaveRides Thursday, 15 August 2019, 1:51 pm

      Grand Tours have occasionally had more than 22 teams, and could do so at the moment as 22x 8 rider teams is well short of the 200 rider maximum. I fully expect this to happen so as to preserve the invitational entries for the race owners.

      Major one day races typically have 25 teams.

      Allowing teams to skip WT races would undermine one of the principles which holds the WorldTour together, that all the top tier teams go to every race. I don’t see the need, as they all have enough riders on their rosters to be able to send a bunch of their younger riders to a less desirable race.

      If introduced, it would need to be tightly controlled. Maybe allow each team to sit out one tour and two one day races per year, only allow three teams to skip any one race, and allow a team to skip a certain race just once in each three year licensing period.

      The race qualification ranking for the ProTeams is not opaque – it is the team ranking points (sum of the ten best riders’ individual rankings) at the end of the previous season. The plan was for the top two to get automatic invites to WT tours and the top three to get invites to WT classics – but I expect the race organisers to demand this be cancelled if the WT does get expanded to 20 teams.

  • JEvanss Thursday, 15 August 2019, 2:20 pm

    What have they done with the Binck Bank Tour? A few years ago it featured an Amstel-like stage, an LBL-like stage and a Ronde-like stage. It was brilliant – and unique among stage races. Now, it’s mostly flat stages, with one Ronde-like stage.

    What seems more interesting, another stage race with numerous flat stages and an ITT or a stage race with three classics-style days so that we not only get to watch this kind of racing in August, but we get to see who can handle classics racing on consecutive days?

    Bafflingly poor use of the available geography.

    • R Thursday, 15 August 2019, 2:26 pm

      Agree, it was a must watch race a few years ago when Wellens won it twice in a row. Also gave the Classics guys something to aim for in the Summer.

  • john crake Thursday, 15 August 2019, 2:24 pm

    But why the (repeated) anti-Bennett sentiment? He’s been winning consistently against big names all year.

    • Andrew Thursday, 15 August 2019, 2:44 pm

      I didn’t read J Evans’s comment as a criticism of Sam Bennett, who is certainly in good shape and maybe deserved more opportunities in big races this year.
      The BBT would have been no more interesting had someone else won some of the sprints.
      In previous years it’s has been a pleasant surprise among the TV highlights. This year, not worth watching, beyond perhaps the last 30 seconds.

      • JEvanss Thursday, 15 August 2019, 2:51 pm

        I didn’t even read john crake’s comment as being about my comment… if it was, I can’t see why.
        I criticised the BBT’s parcours.
        I did not – nor have I ever – criticised Sam Bennett, a rider I have literally no feelings about.

        • David Friday, 16 August 2019, 8:40 am

          I thought it was in response to (a misreading of) Inrng’s concluding paragraph, as diminishing Bennett’s achievements.

          • JEvanss Friday, 16 August 2019, 10:07 am

            Yup, me too.
            And further to what I said, yesterday’s BBT stage wasn’t bad – bit short, mind.

  • Larry T Thursday, 15 August 2019, 4:57 pm

    “…the idea behind this rule sort of made sense when there were 18 World Tour teams as it allowed two automatic invites and then two wildcards…”
    The entire idea never made any sense unless you consider a money-grab by the UCI sensible. The sooner “Heinie’s Folly” (aka World/Pro/Whatever Tour) bites the dust, the better. 2020 will show just how stupid this idea was for those who have yet to see the folly in it.

  • Wayne Thursday, 15 August 2019, 6:12 pm

    I find Quintana to Arkea an odd one. I assume he’s getting paid a fair bit to compensate the drop from world tour as it doesn’t sound like it’s a done deal they’ll be there next season.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 15 August 2019, 6:21 pm

      He’ll lack resources such as support staff but the drop out of the World Tour in itself shouldn’t be problem, he’ll get the team invites to many stage races, you can see him having a programme of, say, Oman, Paris-Nice, Catalonia, Romandie, Dauphiné/Suisse and the Tour, possibly the Vuelta as well without too much of a problem, he can skip some of these etc.

    • RQS Thursday, 15 August 2019, 8:26 pm

      When you consider the back stories I can’t really see a downside for him. He gets to come out from the shadow of a Spanish flag and ride how and when he wants to ride. He may also be more supported, even if that support can’t cut it at the sharp end. Only if he’s getting paid less does it not make sense.

      • Ecky Thump Thursday, 15 August 2019, 10:18 pm

        It feels like there could be a huge back story behind Quintana’s move – politics in the team, rider rivalry, who knows what. But it certainly all seemed to unravel at the Tour.
        And is Quintana’s move a tacit realisation on his own part of his (in)ability to win another Grand Tour?

        • Anonymous Friday, 16 August 2019, 5:46 am

          just guessing but I think it’s all about Valverde. He’s the undisputed king of Movistar, regardless of whether he can win a particular race or not. He’s like a mafia boss. I reckon what he says is law, and for whatever reason he’s not so keen on Nairo. And so the little Colombian has struggled with official leadership and unofficial backstabbing.

          • Anonymous Friday, 16 August 2019, 10:23 pm

            And I guess you spit senseless rumours. My sources say that Valverde is the force that holds the crew together and you’ll never heard a bad word by him about teammates.
            But whatever, I know Valverde hating is big in some communities. Haters gonna hate.

          • RQS Saturday, 17 August 2019, 12:46 am

            I can’t put any credence in any rumour putting Valverde as a domineering patron who subdues Quintana. He’s been with him from the very start.

            I imagine it’s probably more of a nationalistic issue with Movistar wanting their best Spanish riders to be the main riders.

            Cyclocosm’s ‘How the race was won’ for stages 18-20 are quite illuminating with the way that Movistar became the snake that tried to eat its tail and failed.

          • Anonymous Monday, 19 August 2019, 10:02 am

            “I imagine it’s probably more of a nationalistic issue with Movistar wanting their best Spanish riders to be the main riders.”

            I don’t buy that. Movistar is fighting hard for Colombian mobile phone market share. With almost 50 M of population, not a small market at all. It’s about Quintana just simply not delivering what he should. Movistar contracts in Colombia don’t get signed because of Quintana anymore and I can imagine his current contract was not a bargain. It’s just that.

      • Larry T Friday, 16 August 2019, 1:13 pm

        Agreed. His current team seems uninterested in riding for him, so what’s the downside moving to a team that will ride for you but is not as good? He’ll be #1 at Arkea instead of “meh” at the GT’s and no doubt is already rich beyond imagination in Colombia. Don’t think he’s blowing the cash on women and sports cars so a salary decrease won’t be a huge issue compared to having the support as #1 in a team.
        I assume Landa’s going to Bahrain for the same reason while Carapaz is hoping to become the Ecuador version of Quintana with a series of fat paychecks?

        • JEvanss Friday, 16 August 2019, 3:00 pm

          I’d imagined that the reason a team as small as Arkea had managed to sign Quintana was because they offered a bundle of cash.
          Otherwise, why not go to a decent team, e.g. Astana?

          • Larry T Friday, 16 August 2019, 4:46 pm

            Is there any evidence any big-money WT teams wanted Quintana? I assumed most of them had decided he was past his sell-by date or wanted more than they were willing to pay?

          • JEvanss Friday, 16 August 2019, 11:33 pm

            No idea. I just assume that when a rider joins a team significantly crapper than one he could join – e.g. Dan Martin to Israel CA – it must be for the money.
            I’d be very surprised if NQ and DM couldn’t join better teams than those.

          • Wayne Saturday, 17 August 2019, 9:26 am

            Is Barguil staying at that team? Can’t see him being too happy not being the number one during the Tour!

          • SLO_cyclist Monday, 19 August 2019, 10:06 am

            “Is Barguil staying at that team? Can’t see him being too happy not being the number one during the Tour!”

            Number one for what? Going for a stage win or polka-dost jersey? You don’t need that. Barguil and Quintana can ride freely on their own, chances that the team scores a TdF stage win increase in comparison to having only Barguil and let’s be honest….a TdF stage win is all a second tier French team needs.

        • Larry T Saturday, 17 August 2019, 9:25 am

          I must be part of a very small minority here as someone who believes there is more to sport than just the f—ing money!!!???

          • Wayne Saturday, 17 August 2019, 9:27 am

            I’m afraid not Larry, not when it becomes your job anyway. Plenty of examples of athletes taking money over prestige

          • JEvanss Saturday, 17 August 2019, 1:36 pm

            For the professionals who are involved in the sport I can totally understand why money would be their primary objective.
            What confounds all good sense is why some fans go along with this idea.
            (Of course, it’s because our capitalist societies train us to believe that money is the most important thing in all areas.)
            Money doesn’t make cycling better. It doesn’t necessarily make it worse either – it does in some instances, e.g. a team having far more money than others.
            Some seem unable to get past the dogmatic idea of ‘money=better’.

          • Wayne Saturday, 17 August 2019, 4:32 pm

            I wouldn’t really say anyone “goes along” with it but it is understandable. Who on here would turn down a job that offered more money? And in terms of cycling if a big name rider drops not only from one of the biggest teams but down an entire division then it has to be for money! Can’t see any other reason. But no money doesn’t always equal better, Katusha and BMC being the best examples of that.

          • Larry T Sunday, 18 August 2019, 10:22 am

            Turn down a job that pays more money? Yours truly. Someone once offered me a position but I declined. The discussion continued until he said – “Surely you have your price.” which was to me an insult that ended the conversation. There’s more to sport and life than money, my friend.

          • SLO_cyclist Thursday, 22 August 2019, 4:02 pm

            “(Of course, it’s because our capitalist societies train us to believe that money is the most important thing in all areas.)”

            Well it’s not only that. These guys’ careers are not 40 years long, they need to earn the living in 18 to 20 years. They are also not football players. Some of them who earn a few million a year can of course compromise a million or two and they will still be fine for the rest of their lives but all others need to save some money during the on-bike part of career. Not all of them will become successful DS or bike shop owner after the “front office” part of their careers.

  • HennieK Thursday, 15 August 2019, 9:27 pm

    If it’s on Mathieu van der Poel’s shirt, you’re obliged to spell it right: Corendon (with one “r”)
    🙂

  • Richard S Friday, 16 August 2019, 12:07 pm

    A lot of riders seem to be leaving Astana, are they definitely carrying on next year? Also is Politt really such a bargaining chip? He’s been second at Roubaix once.

    • ronytominger Friday, 16 August 2019, 6:38 pm

      Politt is the almost the only one with any notable results at katusha this year. (theres also zakarins giro stage, but you would expect more from him) and hes just 25, top 10s on various spring races this year. so yeah a good prospect.

      https://www.procyclingstats.com/team/team-katusha-alpecin-2019/analysis

      the mood is said to be extremely bad at the team and probably one of the reasons why martin and kittel left.

    • Anonymous Friday, 16 August 2019, 10:26 pm

      Politt had top 10 results in mayor classics, this year and the year before, The fact that you only noticed him in P-R doesn’t lower for his values.

  • RQS Friday, 16 August 2019, 8:05 pm

    Dan Martin has announced his moving to the Israeli Cycling Academy (ICA). THIS strikes me as an odd move.
    Dan’s not had the best 2019. At 32 he is not too long in the tooth that he can’t still race at the sharp end, but I think that there are some young riders coming through capable of doing what he does only better because age is being unkind.
    I guess what I’m saying is that I’m surprised he’s going to a pro-Continental team when he might work well at Sunweb or Trek, where expectations are lower, but the competition is still there.
    While Quintana’s move only seems like a positive, this feels more like a surrender. UAE have not been focused or competitive so I see why he’s jumping ship, just he’s leaping from one leaky vessel to the next. Shame, he looked on good for in the 2018 Dauphiné, and has gone to a bad season now to this. I wish him the best.

    • JEvanss Saturday, 17 August 2019, 9:17 am

      I’m hoping this will mean that Martin re-focuses on the classics – certainly, he must have given up on trying to do anything in the TdF.
      One of so many riders who squander a career where they could win multiple LBLs and Lombardias, etc. to become yet another grand tour also-ran (look at Fuglsang when he finally focuses on the classics).
      I really hope Alaphilippe doesn’t become the next.

      • Larry T Sunday, 18 August 2019, 10:13 am

        Agreed. Too much of cycling centers around TdF and GT’s in general. Watching the tributes to Felice Gimondi reminded me of when the greats contested most, if not all of the races each year. Greg LeMond gets unfairly blamed for the current specialization by those who ignore his palmares prior to being shot in the hunting accident. Vincenzo Nibali’s one of the few who’ll race-to-win throughout the season -the sport needs more like him.

  • Digahole Saturday, 17 August 2019, 6:36 pm

    A bit harsh on Martin there…he was right at the pointy end just last year… 8th on GC, a stage win (n army another) and generally fantastic attacking riding throughout.
    You’re only as good as your last race eh? 😉

    • CA Sunday, 18 August 2019, 1:16 am

      8th on GC is an also ran spot. At no point did he threaten yellow

      • Digahole Sunday, 18 August 2019, 11:32 am

        How about the stage win? He won a tour stage 13 months ago… hardly time to quit to the tour. Anyway, he races the tour like he races in the classics so I don’t see any big disadvantage

        • CA Sunday, 18 August 2019, 3:17 pm

          Stage wins are totally different from GC. We were debating if he should focus on GC moving forward not whether he should go to the tour for stage wins. If he targets the classics he can still go to tour for stage wins… But he could maybe win one or two more monuments or big classics which surely is bigger than top-10/15 on GC at TdF

  • Pax Sunday, 18 August 2019, 5:38 am

    Lachlan Morton’s win on Saturday at the Tour of Utah, is a pretty cool setup given all the alternative races he has done. Read you can enjoy cycling in many ways and still win (and help convince folks that the number of bikes you need has increased the N , N+1 still prevails). Overall this seems like a positive for the US cycling scene, granted he is Australian, but he has lived in the US for a while.

    • not yoda Sunday, 18 August 2019, 7:23 am

      EF’s alternative calendar and how they are deploying Howes and Morton is a top class PR case study. Of course with Rapha it all comes right together.

      • Digahole Sunday, 18 August 2019, 2:01 pm

        I agree that the alternative calendar looks like a PR master stroke. Thing is with pro cycling is that you can basically apply what would be a good solid PR strategy in some other industry and look like a genius

      • Larry T Sunday, 18 August 2019, 3:35 pm

        I think you confuse PR with marketing? Marketing of course is where RAPHA are the masters – who else has conjured up so much from nothing purely by marketing mojo?

        • Digahole Sunday, 18 August 2019, 9:28 pm

          Yeah, suppose i should have said marketing.
          But…
          To do effective marketing you have to really understand your customers and that takes effort and is something that, outside of bike brands, cycling is woeful at. Then to have longevity, you got to back up the talk with a product that keeps people coming back. Otherwise your marketing spend is an unsustainable pit.
          I’d say their products are good quality with innovative details which takes design investment. But my real point is that they understand a particular and large segment of cyclists better than all their competition. Perfect example is the bibs they have aimed at endurance and gravel riders with those stretchy pockets on the outsides so you can ride in a regular t-shirt or whatever. It’s design meets customer, in the direction the sports going. Not rocket science, just good design and marketing execution.
          Just another hoodwinked fanboy? No, just reckon more power to ‘em for listening to what people want, then giving it to them while everyone else insists that their way, or the old way is best.

          • Larry T Monday, 19 August 2019, 7:56 am

            No doubt the RAPHA folks are clever. My issues with them is they are the polar opposite of SOPWAMTOS, not making ANY of their s–t. Since they wanted to be ASSOS but didn’t have any of the history or heritage they just made it all up.
            I think there are customers of theirs out there that believe there is a clothing factory somewhere with RAPHA on the side of it with old-world artisans sitting at sewing machines inside, making an item of clothing just for them. Then there’s the phony exclusivity of it with the latest insult being heirs to the Sprawl-Mart empire are now involved. Nothing there but smoke and mirrors — forget everything Henry Royce ever said, these days it’s all marketing, marketing, marketing.

    • Digahole Sunday, 18 August 2019, 11:36 am

      Hold on a minute, Morton is as Aussie as they get… you can’t just go claiming ours cause you got none 😉

    • CA Sunday, 18 August 2019, 4:28 pm

      Yeah he definitely isn’t American. The Americans are lucky to have him. He is a really talented rider and proof you can have a couple tough years but can make a comeback if you believe in yourself. His thereabouts series is really neat. Glad he has found a way to make a living doing the neat rides he does.

      • DaveRides Wednesday, 21 August 2019, 10:14 am

        Americans love an international athlete who decides to make their home in the US scene, whatever the sport.

        Lots of Australian cycling fans think Morton is a bit of a flog.

        Both point towards Morton being in exactly the right place.

        • noel Wednesday, 21 August 2019, 10:16 am

          what’s a flog?

        • CA Wednesday, 21 August 2019, 3:01 pm

          No clue what a flog is… but all top Aussie riders make a home elsewhere… maybe the Aussie cycling scene is a flog (it sounds like it’s a negative thing).

          Whatever the case, Lachlan Morton is a really solid rider and it’s really interesting with all the off-road training rides he does.

  • not yoda Sunday, 18 August 2019, 7:31 am

    Some observations on the transfer market
    – top teams attract the best young talent at relatively low expense
    case #1: Bernal probably is paid a fraction of what Thomas and Froome commands (plus the Androni buyout probably still much less than the millions that the other Sky/Ineos riders are on)
    case #2: Evenepoel, Pogacar paid well, deliver wins but not on the level of non winnning Cavendish, Degenkolb, et al

    – ‘established’ riders with palmares go to lower teams and get paid, part of it for PR
    Viviani to Cofidis, Dan Martin to ICA, Degenkolb and Gilbert eventually to Lotto

    – Olympics is worth more/less in different teams
    eg. Campenaerts to NTT (form. DDD) to target Olympics and World Champs, Lefevere says Evenepoel ‘may’ go to Olympics, Viviani not riding further than Hamburg on the road to target track, presumably to get Olympics track spot, while former track riders like Yates brothers have completely left track racing and physiology no longer suited

    • RQS Sunday, 18 August 2019, 12:20 pm

      Of course young riders are paid less than established riders. You’re paying for their marketability and palmares. If you’ve not established yourself (even if you come with some hype) you aren’t worth too much till you follow that up with significant performances.
      But, if you do, your stock has a lot more potential. MVDP is likely to eclipse Thomas in earning potential, and will be much hotter property sooner rather than later. But as a tour winner Thomas is going to be more well known outside of cycling – he can sell more bikes/t-shirts/books etc than MVDP at the moment.
      Established riders have a similar pull so when it comes to invitations to prime events and they likely come with WT points, which is why teams try to get a rider in the top ten of the TdF on GC. Which is also one of the counter-productive elements in play when it comes to getting riders to attack – finishing in the top ten stops them from really attacking the yellow jersey and winning a stage (where theirs a possibility they could blow that stage or the next) if they can protect their GC placing.

  • SLO_cyclist Monday, 19 August 2019, 9:57 am

    “Nairo Quintana is moving to Arkéa-Samsic”

    Interesting. I’d assume the big teams like DQS, Ineos, Astana would fight over such a potential! 4 M EUR, 4,2 M EUR…..4,5 M EUR….5 M EUR…….SOLD!

  • RQS Tuesday, 20 August 2019, 1:03 pm

    I could see him at Bahrain Merida or UAE, but I don’t think he’d remotely interest Ineos or DQS.
    Ineos want super domestiques, they have enough GC contenders. Why would they get themselves more competition for TdF slots?
    DQS are not exactly built for GC contention, and so I cannot see him fitting in there.
    Thereafter the list of teams which would be able to saddle themselves with Quintana’s wage demands drops off a cliff. Astana probably would be the team for him to go to, but its not apparent that they will be continuing for too much longer.
    Many of the teams have a nationalistic bent to their make up, and who they want as GC contenders, so some teams would not really be interested in putting a Colombian for GC. I assume this is one of the reasons Quintana has not received the level of support he’d want given that Landa and Valverde have been given equal billing.
    UAE and Bahrain Merida strike me a possible candidates, but they already have clearly identifiable GC candidates. Arkea no doubt won the bidding war due to their combination of their naked ambition to sign WT points/GC rider, with a purse to match.
    There’s a wage hierarchy dependent on the financial strength of the team, and the personalities already involved at the team (Contador moving from Trek cleared the way for Porte’s wages). Moving from Movistar you will only ever really jump to a smaller pond. Like Landa moving from Sky, Movistar was his best option given his nationality and wage demands. Quintana had fewer options given his recent palamares/sliding stock and nationality. If either Ineos or DQS were a Colombian team I would bet he would be of greater value to them with their sponsors.
    I doubt we are going to see much advertising featuring Egan Bernal in the UK (Geraint and Froome have hardly been blazoned across our screens and magazines).

  • Larry T Tuesday, 20 August 2019, 2:45 pm

    Where is the evidence for “Thereafter the list of teams which would be able to saddle themselves with Quintana’s wage demands drops off a cliff.” What wage demands? How much? Seems to me the guy is considered (rightly or wrongly) past his sell-by-date. Otherwise, why would his current team not be keeping him? For Landa it’s even more extreme as he’s (so far) proven himself incapable of leading teams to victory in a GT more than a few times.
    Porte should be the next guy dumped onto the discounted last-best-chance market, though Mollema’s right up there with Dan Martin and perhaps Kruijswijk?

    • RQS Tuesday, 20 August 2019, 8:24 pm

      I’m not going to make you suck eggs Larry, but we’ve both seen the budgets and financials of the teams. Money brings you victories and Ineos/Sky, Movistar and DQS are the strongest teams, by a reasonable margin.
      Probably every team in the World Tour has a budget capable of paying Quintana, but that doesn’t mean that they can afford his wages on top of their current talent.
      Quintana is a GT winner and that comes at a premium. I’m staggered at the wages BMC were willing to pay Ritchie Porte, and if rumours are correct, he’s getting between £1.5m to £2.5m at Trek. If Quintana has an agent worth anything he will be getting as much. That’s a significant part of any teams wage bill for most teams whose budgets are around £15m-£18m. If they have their own talent contracted (the only team that I can think of missing a big GC rider is Sunweb) then only really teams with a budget of £20m plus are going to be able to add him to a packed roster. So yes, the teams willing to stump up that much are not many, especially where they have a GC rider already on the wage bill, and the number gets reduced further if they’re worried about balancing the competing interests in the established team.
      Where would you expect him to go with the current team rosters? It’s a tough call. Arkea have probably the right balance of money, ambition and few named talents (Barguil) that he can be a fit there. Arkea are a bit left field because you’d expect him to stick with a WT team, but going back to the article, this is surely their gambit for the expanded franchise…..
      I imagine, perhaps short sightedly, time will tell, that his last few seasons have given him a lacklustre reputation. So yes, he’s like a day old baguette as our host would say. That might not put off everyone if his wages were at the right price, which is why I think Samsic have probably stumped up the best offer – I don’t think he’s doing it for the love of the team, that’s for sure. Samsic offer something new, otherwise he’d probably sit at Movistar right?!

      • DaveRides Tuesday, 20 August 2019, 10:21 pm

        It’s well over a year since the first clear signals started pointing towards Quintana departing from Movistar at the end of this year, plenty of time for a WorldTeam to start moving towards building a structure around him if they wanted to do so. That he was still available at all come the start of 2019 would have put a huge dent in the amount he would be able to ask, bringing the ProTeams into play.

        I reckon that the reason for Arkea going for him is that they don’t have the ability to jump up to the WT ranks on their own (they are way outside the top 20 teams on the 3 year ranking) and are making a play to be the ProTeam which merges with Katusha instead. Having a spread of star riders from France, Germany and Colombia will appeal to Katusha owner Igor Makarov and his favouring of continued globalising of cycling.

      • Larry T Wednesday, 21 August 2019, 8:47 am

        You provide a lot of assumptions and conjecture, not much in the way of fact, including “otherwise he’d probably sit at Movistar right?!” as if that was an option. Was it? I find it difficult to believe he’s getting more money at his new team, does anyone actually know?
        It seems Quintana was not happy at Movistar, perhaps starting after he won the Giro? And vice-versa? No news or rumors went around about any other WT team offering him a fat paycheck to join them and now he’s going with a non (for now anyway) WT team with a paltry budget, so your implication of some sort of bidding war for his services comes off as pure fantasy.
        My whole point (which seems to have been lost) was that not everything is done just for the money – IMHO Quintana left his current team in search of unwavering support. He thinks he’ll get that with Arkea and was happy to take whatever salary they could come up with. I believe Landa’s in the same situation pretty much for the same reasons (especially after 2019 Giro) though I believe as a proven GT winner, Quintana has much more to offer than Landa, Porte, Mollema…etc.