Team Victory Rankings

Patrick Lefevere described his Tour de France as one of highs and lows with wins and woes alike, typified by Zdeněk Štybar’s stage win in Le Havre. As he was raising his arms in celebration Tony Martin was floored on the tarmac with a broken collarbone. Lefevere said it was better than flatlining around France. The story of Etixx-Quickstep’s season is one of consistency with wins on all terrains and they top the table so far this season with 39 wins.

We’re now past two thirds of the racing days of the 2015. August can feel flat after the Tour de France but actually it’s one of the busiest months of the year with around 100 days of racing thanks to simultaneous stage race around the world. Right now there’s the Tour de Pologne, the Vuelta a Burgos, the Tour of Utah and the Volta a Portugal meaning four days of racing in one day. So any team in the doldrums can get some wind in their sails this month.

Did you expect Katusha to be second? Alexander Kristoff went missing in the Tour de France but still has 18 wins, more than anyone else in the pro peloton and half of Katusha’s score. Joaquim Rodriguez has won five races this year including two stages of the Tour de France and the Tour of the Basque Country. It’s still hard to work out the point of Team Katusha, the “Russian Cycling Project”, you cannot buy a Katusha and they don’t do much for Russian cycling. Yuri Trofimov, one of the few capable of winning World Tour races, is leaving for Tinkoff-Saxo.

Team Sky help with regular quality and quantity point. Sky’s Tour de France win is just one among 35 wins but obviously every team manager would swap all their wins this season for this sacred success. Richie Porte’s delivered nine wins thanks to his early season stage race run. Elia Viviani has two wins, not much but it shows the value of a “house sprinter” who can pop up for a few wins a year when needed.

Lampre-Merida are having a great time. They’ve been struggling for years, now they’ve got 23 wins ahead of big budget behemoths BMC Racing. But look more closely and Lampre-Merida have been on fishing expeditions around the world. Tsagbu Grmay brings two wins with his double in the Ethiopian road race and TT championships and while they took four stage wins in the Giro in May they took two more in the Tour of Japan where they were the only World Tour team.

For all teams there are stories of missed opportunities. Take Tinkoff-Saxo where Peter Sagan has finished second 11 times this season and just converting a few of these into wins would help. But how? Nobody wants to reach the finish in a breakaway with him so he gets attacked – see Ruben Plaza’s Gap stage win in the Tour de France – and if there’s a bunch sprint then he’s often beaten by the specialists. He just needs to be a lot less visible, take that Gap stage where he could have sat further back on the Col de Manse.

Looking at the tail end of the chart the stories seem to vary but share the common theme of a small budget. FDJ linger as Arnaud Démare’s fallen between two stools labelled spring classics and sprint finishes when you’d normally bank on him to win 10 races; Arthur Vichot is another contender for flop of 2015, although Vichot has been sick with a virus for a long time and there are some upcoming races to suit him. There’s talk of recruiting foreign classics specialists to help in April then double as bodyguards for Thibaut Pinot in July.

Cannondale-Garmin thought they were having a dire season until the story about Tom Danielson’s positive A-sample appeared (incidentally he’s still not listed as suspended on neither the USADA nor UCI site, let’s hope it wasn’t a prank call) and of their meagre six wins two are national championship TT titles for Ramūnas Navardauskas and Andrew Talansky against softer rivals. They argylle team had three second places in Tour de France stages, close but their leaders are paid to win. They’re the youngest team in the World Tour so some leniency is normal for the others. Lotto-Jumbo’s sponsors are reviewing whether to continue, they’re signed up for 2016 but will they continue for longer? Let’s hope so and winning isn’t everything as Robert Gesink’s Tour de France comeback shows and Steven Kruijswijk had an excellent Giro.

Onto the Pro Continental teams, cycling’s second division. Note the y-axis, these smaller fish swim in a smaller pond where there’s less to feed on, just 16 wins for Rusvelo, half of what it takes to top the World Tour. Well done to Rusvelo but can you name a win? Can you even one of their riders? Ivan Savitsky took four stage wins in the 2.2-rated Tour of Serbia and it’s this discreet success that keeps them mysterious, often they only appear in the European and English-language media when someone’s been caught doping.

Stephen Cummings

MTN-Qhubeka are a positive story in the original sense with a lot of wins and that high profile success in the Tour de France from Stephen Cummings. But you’d hope so given their high profile recruitment and spend. They’re a good example of how to operate a Pro Conti team, it’s a smaller budget but having some exciting riders and a story to tell brings in the invitations for the top races, all without the burdens of a World Tour licence. Sponsor MTN is stepping down and it’s said South African IT company Dimension Data will take over but let’s hope the ink is dried on that. They were never the first African team to ride the Tour but made plenty of this label and 2016 will be interesting from a story-telling perspective because the African story has been told: is it one of continuation or is there a new angle?

Cofidis have 13 of which seven come from Nacer Bouhanni and he’ll look for more success in the Vuelta to save his season, he’s now the best paid rider in France and needs the success to match this price tag. Europcar have written to the UCI for a World Tour licence in 2016 with five potential sponsors lined up according to reports; as good as this sounds the team has to send in the paperwork now anyway even if has a 1% chance of survival because if it misses the deadline then it’s finished away so the admin is a formality rather than a sign of something to come. They’ll need money for the World Tour, the team has won in the .1 and .2 races with only one victory in an HC race and nothing in the World Tour. Bryan Coquard could be the man to deliver but IAM Cycling and Ag2r La Mondiale are interested.

Androni are suspended now following two positive tests in the team after the UCI’s introduction of collective punishment starting this year, aping the MPCC’s code. It’s harsh to stop a whole team for the fault of two cretins, you punish clean riders on the team who might have aimed to be in peak form but the team has internal issues to resolve and this might finally focus minds.

Bardiani-CSF are the ultimate quality vs quantity tale here, just one win but Nicola Boem’s stage win in the Giro was just what the sponsors wanted but the likes of Enrico Battaglin and Sonny Colbrelli ought to have delivered more wins by now. Finally don’t forget Dutch team Roompot, still on zero wins.

Momentum: wins matter and teams that struggle in the first half of the year tend to continue.

Methodology: these are individual wins and team time trials. Wearing a leader’s jersey for a day in a race is not a win, only winning it at the end of the race counts.

53 thoughts on “Team Victory Rankings”

  1. Great article as always, but you forgot about the Tour of Denmark, which is higher ranked than the Volta ;).

    I wonder how the rankings would look if you for the WT-teams only included WT-races, and for the PC-teams didn’t include .2 races. A team like Caja Rural have 10 wins above the .2-class. Rusvelo have in comparison only 3 wins in races above the .2 class (4 if you count the russian national TT) plus a couple of U23-championships.

    • Ranking point acquisition by team is another way of looking at it. Admittedly, it rewards placements, not only wins. However, it also weighs down “shit small races”, giving a bias towards more prestigious wins.

      If you compare Rusvelo and MTN-Qhubeka (pretty much equal in number of wins) they are miles apart in for instance PCS Ranking (37th and 17th, respectively), underlining INRNGs point of the former’s “discreet success”.

  2. Good to see Lampre up there in the top half of the wins table. The sponsor remaining loyal after it seems like years and years of gaining few wins and not that much to cheer about, obviously a dedicated and loyal sponsor within the sport. Nothing worse than a one hit wonder sponsor no doubt caused by differences around the solid oak board room table.

    • They must be the longest running title sponsor left are they, or is it Lotto? Italy needs another company like that to come along roo really.

    • Absolutely!!! Lampre came first into the sport in 1991 (with Lampre-Colnago?), which is crazy! I remember 2013 was Lampre’s 20th year as a title-sponsor in professional cycling. Think about that: 20 years-and that were certainly not the easiest years for cycling. They should get an award for that.

  3. The quality versus quantity angle is interesting. For example Mark Cavendish has won a lot of races this year and a stage of the Tour, whereas Sagan has only won a couple and didn’t win a stage of the Tour. Yet at the moment Sagan is the one who has come out with his reputation and cult status intact, if not increased, following his constant attacking and near misses in the Tour. Whilst Cavendish appears to be over the hill. Also obviously Bardiani-CSF wouldn’t swap their Giro stage win for any of Rusvelo’s wins, likewise MTN-Qhubeka and their Tour stage.

  4. So, Adam Blythe is looking like Tinkoff-Saxo’s biggest summer signing – unless they sign Cavendish (a pipe dream, one suspects – and a terrible idea for all concerned).
    What they need are better domestiques – Basso and Rogers look over the hill (and that’s if Basso comes back); Majka is seemingly unwilling to work as a domestique. Their aim is Contador winning the Tour: anyone who knows anything knows you need a good team for that.
    Tinkov’s hubris and lack of knowledge meant he signed Sagan instead of 2 or 3 quality domestiques.
    Telling that Tinkov only sacked Riis after Contador had re-signed – something Contador must now deeply regret.

    Great finishing 2km in the first stage of the Tour of Poland. Very interesting to see a technical sprint, which favours skill/bravery as well as power/speed – and Caleb Ewan nearly took Kittel (just over-cooked the final bend).
    Whenever we get those in a grand tour – or even the hint of a corner in the final 500m – there are multiple complaints, but they make for a very exciting finish; and the riders should be able to handle such things (they do in smaller races).

    • Not so good a finish on Stage 2 though ,JE 😉
      Ouch. Thankfully no serious injuries. But those beautiful bikes, ahhh, my heart bleeds !

  5. Are Movistar going to learn the lesson of the Tour and ride for Quintana – or are they once again going to squander a potential victory with their Valverde bias? I’m confident it’ll be the latter.
    Quintana could well argue that he has been denied two potential (please note: ‘potential’ – I’m only saying ‘maybe’) TDF victories in the last two seasons by his team favouring an inferior – but Spanish – rider. (Even in 2013, his chances were stymied by team tactics – albeit he didn’t look strong enough to win.)
    I think I’d rather Froome didn’t ride: although it would be good to see almost all of the top riders, it would probably be a more exciting race without the Sky train.

      • The Sky train in Spain rides mainly on the plain….?

        Please correct me if I’m wrong but I believe Valverde still has another two years on his contract at Movistar, and like his fellow sailors of the Spanish armada, does not look like to be losing form. Therefore Quintana and his manager might want to think about looking elsewhere for a team who will commit to him. Look at Cadel Evans who achieved his potential after transferring from Lotto to BMC, or even Joaquim Rodríguez who went from second banana to Valverde to top dog at Katusha. It’s risky leaving a big budget team for the unknown, but you either take the plunge or just settle for being second.

        • Surely Movistar would not be that stupid?! Quintana is a massive prosepct who could have concievably won two grand tours last year and ran Froome close at the Tour this. Valverde is a podium placer in grand tours, at best. If Movistar have any sense they’ll back Quintana for the grand tours and use Valverde in the classics where his form appears undiminished, and as a super domestique/stage winner in the tours.

          • Well apparently they don’t have any sense, hence Valverde’s central (seemingly guaranteed) role in each TDF + Vuelta.

            And time is more urgent than people might think. Yeah, Quintana is 5 years younger than Froome so theoretically has more opportunities to win the TDF, but that’s nowhere near a given. I mean in July 2011 no one would have thought this unknown domestique on Sky would be the next dominant figure in three week races, everyone was saying “Ah well, next year for Andy Schleck”. You just never know where the next big Grand Tour rider is going to come from (although you can rule out France, they just don’t breed them tough there any more; I mean Warren Barguil cries and misses his family living in Nice so moves back to Brittany, while guys like Richie Porte move to the other side of the world when they’re 20 to where they don’t even speak the language in order to make it as a pro).

          • The Quintana / Valverde relationship is a very interesting one.

            Valverde ‘did a 1986 Hinault’ during this year’s TDF and sparked up the race, unsettled his rivals, but ultimately rode for Quintana.

            He finished higher than he ever has when riding for himself, yes?

            With Quintana, of course Movistar will not want him to leave, and I don’t believe he will want to go either. I imagine the Spanish-speaking team around him is very important, and despite what it may look like, he is probably comfortable with Valverde as a partner. He’s still only 25!

          • Just a quick comment re. Barguil . As a fan, I understand why a person might question his dedication/toughness. As a human being, I completely respect that someone is not willing to sacrifice his personal happiness for sporting ambition. It all comes at a cost and the interview I read with him shows him to be an intelligent person who is trying to figure our the right balance for him of professional success vs its costs. If being a stage hunter as opposed to a GC contender brings him greater happiness, I say good for him.

          • True, and I wasn’t implying he was a deficient character, from interviews he seems a very nice young chap. But if suffering isn’t his thing then probably the life of a pro cyclist isn’t for him either. You don’t have to go very far in this sport to realise that only the toughest both mentally and physically survive, and those who eat pain for breakfast and all those cliches, they’re the ones who will end up crossing the line with arms aloft.

          • HWSB, you’re right: “Valverde ‘did a 1986 Hinault’” – i.e. he rode for himself.
            Unlike a lot of people here, seemingly, I’ve no idea how the Quintana/Valverde relationship is.
            Nor do I think it matters. The far more important thing is that Quintana’s grand tour chances are being hampered by his team’s conservative tactics and bias towards an inferior (in grand tours) rider.
            Regardless of Quintana’s age, he will have few better chances of winning the Tour de France than this year.
            Also, riders don’t always continue to improve with age – this may be his peak.
            Movistar ensured they got 2nd and 3rd at the expense of possibly finishing 1st – the only position that counts.

        • Movistar/Valverde/Valverde’s agent might have a valid argument if Valverde was the same age as Quintana, but he’s 10 years older. Proposing favouring a veteran who finishes lower in grand tours than a man 10 years his junior would make the worst business case ever. Plus I don’t know what markets Movistar the company work in but Colombia has a massive population who love cycling where I’d imagine Quintana is already an icon. I’m not sure abandoning that market would please them much.

    • Movistar really can be so thankful for all these experts who give their insights and opinions on their disastrous season so far! You are so right, the team can’t have any sense: Finishing with 2 riders on the Tourpodium, winning the team competition and having the best young rider in their ranks in the Tour. Like HWSB, I don’t think Quintana is worrying about a thing. He is a young rider, must still learn a lot, which he knows and wants as he tells us in interviews, and I don’t see any trouble between him and Valverde. On the contrary.

  6. INRNG,

    Is it possible to see average prize money per victory? Would help understand if a team has coupled quantity of wins with quality of race.

    I’d still expect Etixx to be near the top but there may be less successful teams (as defined by your chart) who are actually specialists in winning the bigger stages or races.

    Thanks, great article as always.

  7. Volta ‘a’ Portugal, Volta ‘ao’ Algarve… (because the noun ‘Algarve’ is always used with the definite article while the noun ‘Portugal’ is not – a pesky language, I agree ;-).

  8. > It’s still hard to work out the point of Team Katusha … you cannot buy a Katusha

    Nor can you buy an arsenal (at least not legally) or Chelsea (certainly not the whole thing) yet the point of both is very clear.

    I think title sponsorship is ridiculous. People pass on football allegiances to their children yet what if your father supported Roger de Vlaeminck — should you be thinking about Brooklyn chewing gum (unknown and not sold in Brooklyn)?

    • I think if your father was a Roger de Vlaeminck fan you may still end up in a Brooklyn jersey. On the other hand cycling fans looking at your jersey will surely be thinking of the champion and not the chewing gum, so you have a valid point here about that particular title sponsor. You may also say that there is a very slight possibility to be a mass consumer of Lampre laminated steal, but there are many companies which are household names like: Mapei, Saunier Duval, Cofidis, Europcar, Movistar, Vacansoleil, CCC or even Phonak. As you see they don’t have to be title sponsor at present still one can remember them.
      ‘Nor can you buy an arsenal’ 🙂
      Actually I quite like that cycling is lacking that tribe feeling of ball sports.

      • Retro jerseys look classy but arguably the teams teetering on the edge of dissolution would rather you’d bought their authorized replica kit as opposed to a Brooklyn jersey from a specialist retailer. And even though Molteni (whoever they are) has got themselves 100 years’ worth of exposure thanks to Mr Merckx, did it translate (or does it now) into higher revenue for the teams?

        The lack of tribe feeling and hooligans would be fine had there not been a popularity problem. French viewers only tuning in for the scenery, people leaving the roadside once the caravan passes — it’s all on this blog, and would be quite unthinkable with a ball sport.

      • Mrs. Grupetto and I were shopping for laminate flooring a few years back and I lingered too long around the Quick-Step range.

        “Why are you looking at those ones? They’re totally the wrong colour and texture…Oh hang on a minute, they sponsor a cycling team…”

        The end of the sentence left me in no small doubt that evaluating interior fixtures and fittings largely on the basis of two-wheeled sponsorship would not be contemplated.

    • I grew up chewing Brooklyn gum, mainly because I did think it came from Brooklyn and it would make me awesome. It was (may be better these days) very poor chewing gum. Tasteless. Had to have 3 sticks at once like in Dr Strangelove.

  9. Feel very sad for Europcar, especially as this isn’t only about the professional team. I think Vendee U is also on the line? It is a shame! On the other hand I simply can’t understand why Bernadeau has so much trouble finding a replacement? Of course one always hears that the presentations the teams prepare for sponsors are generally very weak, but that can’t be the real or only problem? I begin to wonder, if the fact that Europcar announced so early that they would leave, was -instead of helping the team-making the situation worse? Maybe the teamowner thought: “We still have plenty of time left to find a sponsor, we needn’t panic” and didn’t really get going till it was too late?

    • Europcar hasn’t won many races and got relegated this year. It’s hard for a sponsor to sign up for this, they know what they’ll spend but the glory in return is uncertain, especially as Coquard could sign elsewhere and Voeckler is fading. As you say the marketing in pro cycling often isn’t that good too. And agreed that there’s a whole structure underneath, the pro team is the tip of an iceberg.

    • I think that’s harsh about Savio. He definitely exaggerates his personality to help raise the profile of his team to get people/sponsors on board. I’m not sure I can name many other Pro-Conti GM’s.

      I think one of his teams problems is that they rely so heavily on a sponsorship model which needs each rider to bring a sponsor to the team. (Hence the overtly busy jersey which he has described as “looking like a f***ing newspaper”). This means he has less personal control over who he signs than some other teams and bad things happen. Similarly when Di Luca got tagged onto YellowFluo for the Giro at the bequest of a sponsor and produced a sample which compared favourably to fuel from a fighter jet.

      • Surely he still has control over who he signs, it’s just in order for him to sign them they have to bring a sponsor with them. It’s more likely the riders feel the pressure of having to justify their sponsorship and also the knowledge that if they don’t perform the sponsor will pull the plug and they’ll be out of a ride. Plus a rider like Appollonio was on a bit of a downward curve and probably out of desperation to perform and try and get back in a World Tour squad took to the PEDs. I also think that history shows that these kinds of substances/practices are easier to get hold of in Italy than anywhere else?

        • He definitely says no to some riders but he also has to more finely balance the books than some others and with the sponsorship model that means less choice. Each year, there are riders there aren’t the best natural fit on the team (Hoogerland and Van Hummell last year – I guess that was from Bianchi being the team bike which it had been from Vacansoleil the year before).

          You make a really good point about the pressure that the model places on the individual rider to perform, especially on the downslide of a career. I can see that with Appollonio and Francesco Reda.

  10. Of current tours, I’d like to add 2.2 Tour de Guadeloupe which I am presidenting as I write.
    Sure, we have no WT teams here but the sporting level is at a surprisingly high level. Exotic, but un grand fete and direct television, helicopters, the full monty. (couldn’t find the correct accent ^ for the french feast, sorry)
    No household names…

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