Team Victory Rankings

With the final stage of the Tour of Denmark Mark Cavendish took his 16th win of the year, putting first for the number of wins this year, ahead of Marcel Kittel and Peter Sagan.

These rankings are simplistic they still help explain plenty, from departing sponsorship to in-race strategy. And behind the numbers we can see the gap between the World Tour and the lower level Pro Continental ranks which is both quantitative and qualitative where the second division teams win less but, uniquely, are keen to avoid promotion.

Saxo-Tinkoff have a good week with two stage wins by Matti Breschel in the Tour of Denmark but this success doesn’t change the fact that the team has only won five races this year. Similarly Ag2r La Mondiale have been very visible with Christophe Riblon but still have just seven wins. For all the disappointment generated by BMC Racing they sit mid-table and above fellow big budget team Astana.

Cavendish is obviously influential for his team’s success but without him OPQS would still sit in fourth place in the table above. The two teams most dependent on one rider are Argos-Shimano where Marcel Kittel has 15 of the team’s 17 wins and Cannondale with Sagan taking 14 out of 24. It’s good to see teams with clear leaders but a crash or an injury to a star rider can ruin the fortunes of the whole team. Note Chris Froome has 13 of Sky’s 31 wins.

Once again this is only a numerical ranking, there’s no accounting for the quality of wins. Take Astana who have “just” 12 wins but this includes the Giro. But there is a value in these standings, they indicate team morale and if you’re wondering why Euskaltel and Vacansoleil are pulling out of the sport, a glance at the numbers shows why. Sure all teams get plenty of airtime even when they’re not winning but images of success are far more valuable.

Note sprinters bring in plenty of wins but Sky and Movistar show there are other ways to win. These two teams are especially interesting as Sky are one of the biggest budget teams in the World Tour whilst I believe – no firm numbers available – that Movistar have the smallest budget.

All teams in the second division, known as “Pro Continental”, now have at least one win but we can see the gulf between the World Tour and the Pro Conti ranks as the win rate is much lower. It’s not as simple as being bigger fish in a smaller pond because most of the time these teams are racing alongside bigger squads. Note Vini Fantini’s second place is still including Mauro Santambrogio’s wins because if his A-sample has flashed up, his B-sample has not and subsequent sanctions have yet to be imposed.

No Promotion
There are 19 World Tour teams at the moment but there are supposed to be 18. However with Euskaltel-Euskadi and Vacansoleil-DCM in the ejector seat we could see the World Tour with just 17 teams because nobody else wants to get promotion, the likes of Europcar, IAM and Cofidis have ambitions but see the costs and burdens of a licence and promotion as unreasonable and unattractive. There can’t be many sports where promotion to the top division is actively avoided.

Looking Ahead
The shrinking World Tour has consequences for all races next year. Because if we get 17 squads then races might take it upon themselves to issue five wildcard invitations rather than the standard four, or the three we had this year. A small change but self-reinforcing because the lack of promotion to the top league means more invitations are possible.

August is the busiest month of the year for racing with plenty of races so the table should over the next few weeks. Still OPQS lead and it’s near-impossible to overhaul them. Their ambitions are easy to see for 2014, hiring Rigoberto Uran for more success next year and Mark Cavendish is getting a sprint train with high speed wagons like Mark Renshaw and Alessandro Petacchi which can only add to the wins, especially if Tom Boonen has a good spring.

As simple as the rankings are, they do hint at why some sponsors come and go and help shine a light on which teams have momentum or matters like dependence on a star rider.

48 thoughts on “Team Victory Rankings”

  1. Wow, first on the comments.

    I think it’s very interesting to hear that Pro-Conti teams won’t want to step up. Perhaps that’s a good thing, as the sport needs to be sustainable, and they can manage their money better that way. Much more preferrable to going out of business with the big boys.

  2. Is it compulsory or optional to be promoted in other sports? Seems like an odd situation, I thought IAM were all gung ho about it earlier in the season. Maybe they thought Cancellara would join them then?

    • This happens in rugby from time to time – teams can’t afford the expansion and inprovements to their grounds that are a necessary part of being in the top tier. A team can win the league, and promotion, but not actually get promoted.

  3. In most other spors, promotion means more the potential for more money – e.g. the English premier league has sold TV rights worth £3.018 billion to 2015-16 season, while the second tier Championship has only £195 million for the same period. Thus you can see why teams are so keen for promotion.

    If I understand right, in cycling your income is primarily dependant upon the sponsorship, which may not increase significantly after promotion (in the current climate), yet your costs to have to fly all over the world racing will increase.

    You can kind of see why, if you have a sponsor, and you can make them happy in the lower divisions, then given there is not a hungry bunch of money laden sponsors waiting for the top teams, then it is better to keep your reduced outgoings

    • Also, in cycling you have a chance to win the Champions League despite playing in second division (with an invite). Other sports usually reserve the right to play for top division teams…

  4. Intersting point that avoiding promotion is self-reinforcing, but can IAM be sure of a Tour invitation ahead of say NetApp, MTN, Columbia and the three French regulars without the Cancellara card? There is still a barrier to non-native teams getting into the GTs with the price being literally finance and going to some far flung World Tour events.

  5. I know that for a lot of teams we don’t have firm budgets available, but for many we have estimates I think. Would be very interesting to try to divide team budget over number of victories to see which team is most efficient.

    • You could do that but it wouldn’t give a clear picture of ‘value’ or efficiency.

      As the article says, Astana haven’t won many races but have won the Giro, surely this win is worth more to them than a stage win at the Tour of Denmark for example. Likewise which would you prefer, Froome’s GC win at the Tour de France or Cavendish’s stage wins?

  6. Some great points about the lack of will to be promoted.

    Europcar are a great example of this, you’d expect them to want to step up to World Tour level but they already have a practically guaranteed Tour de France spot each year and don’t have the budget to compete in the other Grand Tours consistently. Likewise, with their prominence each July you’d expect them to be able to pull in another good sponsor but they’re struggling. If Europcar can’t justify making the step up to World Tour level can any of the other Pro Conti teams?

  7. Until the race organisers are prepared to share the TV rights money with the teams, there won’t a financial incentive for teams to want promotion.

      • Cycling clearly finds it hard to monetize its appeal. I guess not being able to sell tickets to a stadium doesn’t help. Would be interesting to know if there is a study on fan base of sports and their total income and where cycling ranks for average income per fan.

  8. Being in the Pro Tour has appeal for teams on the bubble for getting into the big races. But, why do the big teams like Sky stay in the Pro Tour? Certainly Sky and Movistar would be invited to any race they apply. Being independent would let them pick and choose their best schedule.

    • When you are a big squad you can keep racing all year. Plus it would make a real mockery of the system if Sky or another team refused to take part in the World Tour.

      The harder part is for teams like Europcar and Vini Fantini to be promoted because they’d have to ride three grand tours in a year rather than focus on one.

      • Maybe it needs someone like SKY to do this to shake things up. There has been talk about having a rival league but perhaps this is a better way to instigate change (not that I know what that change should be)

  9. About the comparison to other sports : I think the cycling model is closer to northern america’s sports where you literally buy your access to the elite. Except than you can avoid it in cycling because the UCI is always offering an alternative way to access to the main events. The teams are simply evaluating the pro and cons of being a World Tour team.

    In soccer, the access to the elite depends on a sporting criterium and you can’t refuse a promotion. There’s actually no reason to refuse a promotion, but more and more teams can not ‘afford’ a promotion. This is not a choice, a promotion requires a ‘stadium update’ to be in the norms, +a big salary mass increase and a global increase of the everyday costs. It happened recently to Mirandes, a successful spanish club that was going to be relegated to division 4 due to financial problems, even though they managed to get a promotion to division 2 with the sporting results. They finally managed to fill the money gap but they will be in a worse situation next year.

    Back to cycling, I really think the UCI system is completely imbalanced and the teams are forced to always look for ‘work arounds’ to survive. The riders and the sponsors are always under big pressure and i’m sure there are other ways to improve the system.

  10. Wasn’t the Pro Tour intended to give certainty of Grand Tour entry for teams? But that was really a way of saying entry into the TdF because there seems to be no real issues for the big teams getting into the Vuelta or Gior or other races. So why not just get rid of Pro Tour and just make an agreement with ASO for fair distribution of TdF invites?

  11. I can’t quite believe that Movistar has the smallest budget of the world tour teams. They have had such a strong team for years. They like to buy Euskaltels best riders away too, so they at least should have more money than the basque team. There are other teams which i would have guessed are “poorer” than Movistar (like Lampre before the Merida infusion, or Vacansoleil), but official data doesn’t seem to exist. Ah, the transparency of the UCI.

    • I was also shocked by this line more than anything. Movistar don’t seem to do things on the cheap in terms of rider calibre. I thought on rider pay Movistar were in similar bracket to OPQS, Cannondale etc?

      I love the articles that you used to do (proportionately) more of on the economics of the teams and sport.

    • I too was surprised when I saw some numbers. They’re a strong team but look at who they have got and the wage bill is not huge. Valverde is cheap after his ban and Quintana has been on a neo-pro salary. Note the squad could be moving its registered HQ to Luxembourg in order to shop around for a lower tax rate as a means of freeing up cash to keep Quintana.

      • On the other hand, Cobo is making a fortune for whoever knows what except being “the man who beat Froome”. And Movistar’s roster is very deep indeed.

      • I’m not really surprised by the low wages of Movistar. With more money they would have invest on a bigger squad with at least 3 spanish leaders. There is no concurrence in spain while it is surely one of the powerful countries in cycling. They do not seem to run a lot of races everywhere in the world, and I think they limit the concurrent races to the minimum.

        Movistar is hiring cheap and I won’t be surprised if Nairo Quintana leaves. Except if the magic trick in Luxemburg allows them to aim higher.

  12. “There can’t be many sports where promotion to the top division is actively avoided.” This is the folly of “Mr. Mars” and “The Mad Hatter”s globalization of pro cycling. The top tier is simply too damn expensive for what the sponsors get out of it. If they must have this thing, they need to a)make it a smaller, more select group of say 12. b)provide some real benefits to the top teams rather than burdens of having to show up at all three grand tours, etc. Perhaps if “The Mad Hatter” is replaced this situation can be reviewed and changes made?

    • +1. Absolutely. De-regulate, please- (And to think Cookson and McQuaid are still messing around with ideas about how to organise cycling as a “league”… Please…)

        • Sure, ol’ JV is certainly an objective opinion! My point was the top-tier requires far too much infrastructure for teams to compete at multiple events that run concurrently. How many trucks, buses and all the other equipment is required for this beyond a team that competes at one race at a time? How many riders must they have? Directors? Mechanics and other staff? It’s crazy expensive…all because of the mis-guided (I’ll be kind here) idea of globalization. If it’s such a great value, where are all the companies lining up to get in? If a sponsor could get their team into their national tour more easily at a lower cost, I think we’d see more sponsors want to spend the money. But instead we too often see top-tier teams show up because they’re forced to…and show up with nobody who can challenge for the win…they just make up the numbers far too often. Think of Euskatel at Paris-Roubaix for example.

  13. Funny system. Saxo is last in number of wins, but 4th in the UCI WorldTour rankings (11th not counting Contadors points). Finishing 3rd and 5th in San Sebastian gave them almost 1/7th of their total points

  14. Saxo Tinkoff made several signings but they are still all about Contador. As long as he’s not winning the rest are stuck.

    Don’t agree with the manic Oleg Tinkoff.., but can see his frustration.

  15. I’d be interested in a discussion comparing the value of Victory Ratings compared with overall Tour Points earned. Some teams rarely darken the top step, but manage to finish consistently in the front group to earn lots of points.
    Apart from securing their Wold Tour license, how valuable are those points rankings to sponsors and the world at large?

  16. Comparison with other sports is difficult because cycling is on a global project and in almost all other team sports the primary competition is a national one. Many cycling teams still have essentially national sponsors so their exposure to their markets is limited to races held in their countries and then the media coverage of races elsewhere. Is there enough coverage of races in say Canada and China in most European countries to justify the sponsor expense of competing there? Reports indicate that the Tour de France is the big one for sponsor exposure and that much of the rest is largely irrelevant.

    We see teams with US sponsors, for example, going to races there for the exposure and interaction with the sponsors and their guests because that is in the sponsors interests. There needs to be a match between race calendar and sponsor markets and the global companies are not rushing to be involved in cycling for obvious reasons.

  17. Fred B, I take your point about cycling being global. But there are other global sports models, like Formula One, etc, that seem to have a more stable finance structure. I’d be interested to know how F1 compares with the WorldTour in terms of revenue streams.

    • Can’t say I’m a F1 fan but surely some differences are that there is one body in charge of the sport and the calendar at that level and some income distribution agreements with the teams. The countries/circuits bidding for the races also know the will get paying fans onto the circuit. Also, several of the teams are manufacturer teams and car manufacturers clearly have sponsorship budgets far in excess of bicycle manufacturers.

      Cycling is a much more accessible grassroots sport and, in contrast to almost every other sport, has no reliable model to extract income from live spectators. Interestingly, the proposed womens Tour of Britain seems to be playing on the health/livestyle card much more than any inherent value to having a race and would-be host towns/cities seem abundant. Similar perhaps to last weekends RideLondon-Surrey Classic race sponsors will probably be after the domestic spectator and TV audience. The teams will be grateful for a well organised race offering decent prize money?

    • The commercial interests of Formula One are managed by FOM (Formula One Management) which is currently owned by a private equity firm and run by Bernie Eccelstone. Revenue comes primarily from television rights and is supplemented by the (ever increasing) fees that FOM charges race promoters. The teams are funded by a distribution of funds from FOM (based according to their results in the championship the previous year), sponsorship and (in some cases) the support of their manufacturer. The race promoter must recoup their costs from ticket sales (and presumably rent from food vendors and similar) and often require a large amount of government support. Some drivers are “pay drivers” – they bring money to the team directly or indirectly (through personal sponsorship) in order to get a drive in a Formula One car and (hopefully) impress enough to make it to a better team. Many of the teams struggle to get the level of investment they require and rely on the wealth of their owners/benefactors or the patience/good will of their parent company – I would say only the top three or four teams (Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and maybe Lotus and Mercedes) out of the eleven competing are stable financially.

      • Race fees have been pushed higher because FOM have been signing lucrative deals with race promoters heavily backed by their government, pushing out more ‘traditional’ venues. For example, Formula One has recently expanded into the Middle East (Bahrain and Abu Dhabi), India, Singapore and South Korea – all of which I believe receive substantial government support. However, the government money does not last forever – especially when tourism and ticket sales do not pick up. Traditional (and much loved) venues and races like the French GP, the German GP at Hockenheim and Nuerburgring and the Belgian GP at Spa-Francorchamps have been struggling to stay afloat. The British GP, the Monaco GP and the Italian GP seem to be doing okay.

        • Lotus don’t seem to be particularly flush, as they’ve been struggling to pay one of their driver’s (admittedly eye-watering, even for Formula One) wages recently.

          I think the British Racing Driver’s Club that runs Silverstone (and the British GP) is close to the breadline. They had to take out a loan to upgrade their facilities and suffered losses after having to turn spectators away from the 2012 qualifying session. I imagine the race hosting fee is quite onerous too.

          • Thanks for the insights into F1. I guess clearly the fact that you have paying spectators at large venues around the world makes a difference. I hadn’t realised the huge government support involved in some venues however – perhaps similarities there with the way many races, including the Tour, are reliant on host cities paying the race organisers for the honour of having the race start or finish at the city. And the fact that many teams are reliant on individual benefactors is also a feature common to cycling (e.g BMC).

  18. Does anyone know where I can find out how many races each of the WT teams entered to achieve the wins listed above? Ideally on one site, I mean. Cheers.

  19. I’d be interested to see the effect that getting rid of wildcards would have on this subject. If teams like Europcar and Cofidis couldn’t rely on an invite from ASO, would their sponsors get out of the sport altogether? Or could the fact that only World Tour teams would be guaranteed a place on the Tour encourage their benefactors to increase their funding to get a spot in the top division?

    It could be said that the Pro Continental team sponsors that ride the Tour year after year are getting the benefits of TdF exposure on the cheap, whereas the World Tour team sponsors are paying through the nose for it. Forcing the teams that are happy to take advantage of this situation to pay their way into the big races would even that up but at what cost?

    • Exactly. But the pro continental teams getting wildcards have a big card to play: nationality. The Tour, Giro, Vuelta (and other races) each need to invite local teams.

      As discussed before on here French teams in particular have very high payroll taxes meaning they can’t afford to hire the best riders. But by accident they also happen to be in the country with the biggest race in the world so it still pays to have a lower budget team, World Tour or Pro Conti, as the Tour offers so much publicity.

  20. I would love to see a colour code which shows the value of the victories. Each bar would split up into the colours, which are related to the rank of an event. That would add a quality aspect to the statistics.
    As example Garmin-Sharp:
    Tour = yellow: 1 victory
    Giro = pink: 1
    Vuelta = red: x
    Big classics = grey: 1
    other World Tour = blue: 4
    HC = dark green: 3
    .1 = normal green: 0
    .2 = light green: 2
    total: 12
    Also interesting to see would be a cake diagramm to look how the victories are spread between the riders in the team. Again the example Garmin:
    4: Martin
    2: Narvadauskas
    1: Kreder
    Result analyzing can be very fun, but if you really want to see the worth of the results, not only for the Sponsor but also for Individuals (a 10th Place in GC is gets not that much interest but could be a break through for a young rider), you need to create a point ranking like CQ.
    And results and performance are two different things, the real value of a team lies somewhere in between.

Comments are closed.