A look at the win rates for the top teams and as ever a chance to look at some of the stories behind the wins and the stats relating to the teams especially as we’re in the middle of the transfer season.
Etixx-Quickstep lead as usual and by now half the team have enjoyed a win each and that’s excluding collective wins in time trials. Another impressive stat is they’ve won 10% of the races counted here (World Tour down to *.2 races). Yet questions swirl over the team’s future, headline sponsor Etixx, a brand of energy food, belongs to Omega Pharma which used to be owned by Belgian sports fanatic Marc Coucke however he sold the business to US firm Perrigo with a small clause saying they had to fund the team until the end of 2017. With no replacement sponsor found yet the clock is ticking and the team can only sign riders on one year deals for next year but it seems they’re planning in the future, only today they’ve announced a side sponsorship deal through to the end of 2018. You’d think the team could name its price among the Belgian corporate sector for the VIP opportunities offered in April alone but, in reductive terms, the cost of running a team these days is superior to this kind of national value but not yet worthwhile internationally: too expensive for a Belgian sponsor, not global enough for a multi-national?
Team Sky are second and among the 34 wins is that Tour de France win, the prize that eclipses everything else in the sport but there’s been more, for example the accordeon-playing Gianni Moscon’s recent success in the Arctic Race of Norway this month.
Dimension Data are the newest joiners to the World Tour and have enjoyed plenty of wins. Mark Cavendish took four stage wins in the Tour de France and the yellow jersey and has eight wins in total this year, the same count for Edvald Boasson Hagen. Tinkoff have often struggled for wins but will bow out with plenty this time, 28 of which only nine come from Peter Sagan, “only” as you might expect him to carry the team but others have shared the load. Astana are having a mixed season by their usual standards. Vincenzo Nibali won the Giro, Miguel Angel Lopez took the Tour de Suisse and they’ve had more wins here and there but Fabio Aru vanished in the Tour de France and their chances in the Vuelta look slim as promising as Miguel Angel Lopez is. One hope is the World Team Time Trial Championships, with talk of a boycott today’s L’Equipe reports Astana are the only World Tour team planning to ride.
Orica-BikeExchange are mid-table and have won when it counts. A bonzer Tour Down Under then two stages in Paris-Nice, Mathew Hayman’s Roubaix win and stages in the Giro and Tour and more including last weekend’s win in Hamburg for Caleb Ewan against sprint royalty. They undergo a transformation from a team packed with sprinters and ex-track riders into a herd of mountain goats or at least a squad led by stage race contenders like Esteban Chaves and the Yates brothers while Michael Matthews leaves. In comes Roman Kreuziger and his baggage as a client of Dr Ferrari but there’s a difficult balancing act ahead, Chaves and Yates x 2 means three leaders when some teams struggle with two and that’s before Caleb Ewan asks for his shot at grand tour sprint success and expects some wagons for his sprint train.
IAM Cycling have only 14 wins but they’ll be missed next year, a pirate ship amid the World Tour galleons with riders willing to attack and take chances to win like Jarlinson Pantano along with a few surprises, think Roger Kluge winning a stage of the Giro when all the sprinters had gone home.
Cannondale-Drapac have eight wins and it’s hard to recall one of them because none have been big, they’ve not won a race in the World Tour this year. Unlucky? Perhaps but they’ve not had many opportunities either, Moreno Moser was second in the Pinerolo stage of the Giro and they’ve had some third places in other World Tour races. In comes Sep Vanmarcke as the big signing which is potentially game changing if he can convert his podium placings to a big win. We’ll see if Mr Drapac’s millions can help buy in more riders. Overall you sense a team that’s lost its mojo, once they painted themselves as The Clean Team and Argyle underdogs and now it’s not so clear what they’re doing.
Ag2r La Mondiale‘s last place in the rankings doesn’t matter too much because with a stage win and a podium finish in Paris thanks to Romain Bardet with the kind of audacity that’s so exciting it almost makes you want to buy a Sram-equipped Focus and wear brown shorts. The sponsors are delighted and are pouring more money into the team. They’ve been sponsoring the squad for 17 years now and the budget has gone up to allow them to recruit more riders, notably Stijn Vandenbergh who can help in the classics but also play a bodyguard role for Bardet in July and they’ve taken five riders so far from IAM Cycling, possibly more than will join from Drapac in their formal merger with Cannondale.
On to the second tier of teams and it’s like peering at a different planet such is the gap between these teams and the World Tour. Direct Energie top the rankings on 22 wins with 13 from Bryan Coquard. So far so good but they’ve not won a World Tour race since 2013 and Thomas Voeckler and Sylvain Chavanel seem to be consuming the wage budget without delivering proportionate results.
Among the others Bora-Argon 18 resemble a family car that’s about to have a jet engine strapped on the roof with the arrival of Peter Sagan for 2017. It’s fun but it could be disruptive too but should be manageable, riders used to taking their own chances know these “suicide” moves don’t usually pay-off so they’ll be only to happy to rally behind Sagan.
Some teams have clear national goals so CCC-Sprandi have won six races in Poland and most of their other wins come in and around Central Europe. Bardiani-CSF probably want to win big in Italy – and their Giro stage win means they did – but six of their eight come from outside Italy with Sonny Colbrelli back in form thanks to two stage wins in the recent Tour du Limousin.
From national to regional and once upon a time the sport had several regional squads, think of teams representing Brittany, the Basque Country and Galicia but now there’s not much left. One survivor is Topsport Vlaanderen but they’ve had a disappointing time, normally a conveyor belt for promising Flemish riders no rider stands out this year but there’s always the upcoming Eneco Tour. One growing theme in recent years has been improved talent detection and so the best riders are spotted early and brought into feeder teams from an early age, it’s rare. Still if they’re last on the chart Marseille-Delko-KTM, Team Novo Nordisk and Team Roth have not had a single win between them.