Team Victory Rankings

With the first grand tour completed, a look at the team rankings and as ever a chance to look at some side stories around the teams, rider recruitment and some other stats on which teams get lucky.

Quick Step top the table, just as they did last time. They enjoyed five stage wins in the Giro, four thanks to Fernando Gaviria and one from Bob Jungels. Plus a stage win in the Tour of California from Marcel Kittel. The team looks set to continue for 2018 according to an article in Het Nieuwsblad today, we heard long ago that Czech billionaire and keen cyclist Zdeněk Bakala will back the team and manager Patrick Lefevere saying he wants sponsorship so that the team are not reliant on Bakala’s deep pockets. It’s not an easy situation and there’s an element of “he would say that, wouldn’t he” because the instant a team manager expresses any doubt about the team’s future there would be a stampede to sign elsewhere. The first out the door might sign on good terms but the slower ones would be bargains. Still with Bakala the funding is there and all those wins have to help, there would surely have been even more if Julian Alaphilippe wasn’t out.

Movistar have 26 wins and if you’re wondering where, the answer is mostly in Spain. 19 come from the Iberian peninsula. BMC have had a relatively quiet May but enjoyed two stage wins in the Giro and we’ll soon see if Richie Porte can parlay his Paris-Nice performance into the Dauphiné where if he was caught out in the cold and crosswinds he still won the mountain stage with a very fast climbing performance.

Serge Pauwels and Omar Fraile, Tour de Yorkshire

Dimension Data impress on 15 wins. Mark Cavendish is normally their man for these rankings but he only had one win this year before being struck with mononucleosis, it sounds like he’s due back for the Tour de France but it’s very difficult to get the all clear, the moment hard training resumes is when the virus can spring back. Meanwhile Edvald Boasson Hagen has been on fire in Norway taking stage wins and the overall in the Tour of Norway and the Tour of the Fjords.

Thibaut Pinot

FDJ and Team Sky are tied on 13 wins which must please Marc Madiot but these teams face diverging problems. Team Sky several key riders have their contracts up, for example Mikel Landa stay. With several other teams needing to strengthen their rosters the Basque is an obvious hire for the likes of Astana, Bahrein-Merida or UAE Emirates. Meanwhile Madiot will be scratching his head, Thibaut Pinot is down to ride the Tour de France but how soon until he wants to ride the Giro again and if so what do the team do every July if their star rider prefers the Giro to the Tour? Pinot’s best policy is to have a successful July, a stage win and the polka-dot jersey would give him the bargaining power but easier said than done. David Gaudu could share the reins one day but needs to be given time.

Scanning the other teams Katusha-Alpecin are below where their budget would suggest, Alexander Kristoff hasn’t been as prolific as normal even if he’s still got six of their eight.

Team Sunweb “only” have six but of course one of these is the Giro. They’re a small budget team who seem to punch above their weight in terms of image and Tom Dumoulin’s triumph is going to boost this further, especially as his win appears to be breaking out of the sports pages into national news. Dumoulin must be near the top of the shopping list of several teams. If he stays do the team buy in more help? Wilco Kelderman would have made a big difference so it’s not obvious. But the rest of the team only has three wins, Michael Matthews’s stage win in the Tour of the Basque Country, neo-pro Søren Kragh Andersen’s stage win in Oman and Nikias Arndt winning the Cadel Evans Road Race.

Cannondale-Drapac have finally got their World Tour wins. There’s been a spate of “invest in cycling” articles (eg here) in the US media linked to to the team. It could read like a plea for sponsorship to keep the team on the road but apparently it’s more of an invitation to join the ride, to add funding so that the team can cope with cycling’s wage inflation and have more resources for performance initiatives.

Last come Astana with one win and sadly that’s from the late Michele Scarponi. His death may have knocked morale but they were struggling before: Fabio Aru’s knee injury kept the Sardinian out of the home start to his Giro and now both he and the team will want to see results, the squad needs this and Aru is in contract negotiations. Now that Cannondale have their World Tour win it’s Astana who have the longest streak without a World Tour win, the last was Miguel Ángel López’s success in the Tour de Suisse, almost a year ago now.

Lucky vs unlucky?
Some teams have come close to the win again and again only to miss out. Trek-Segafredo for example have just six wins but 19 second places and 12 third places, expressed another way only 16% of their podium finishes have resulted in a win, the lowest rate apart from outliers Astana on 9%. Team Sky have had several runner-up places compared to wins and score a relatively low 27%. By contrast Quick Step score 58%, an impressive win rate. Is this luck or simply having the best riders capable of taking their opportunities? Perhaps both.

In the Pro Continental ranks, cycling’s second tier, there’s Direct Energie and the rest. The French squad have taken 21 wins with a podium score of 58%, ie if they’ve placed on the podium then over half time it’s been thanks to a win. Only five come from house sprinter Bryan Coquard, lower than we’d expect for someone normally so prolific. He’s leaving, destination unknown – BMC Racing and Ag2r La Mondiale have expressed interest before – and if his win count isn’t big he’s still going to leave a void. The team hasn’t won a World Tour race this year but rivals Cofidis have thanks to Nacer Bouhanni. These two teams are in a comfortable spot, their nationality means they get invited to the Tour de France as long as they assemble a decent team and this creates a self-fulfilling scenario: the probability of an invitation in July helps secure sponsorship which helps secure the roster which helps secure the invitation. But what of the rest? It’s as if the Pro Conti tier is being distanced by the World Tour ever more and after the invited teams struggled in the Giro, sometimes just to make the breakaway you fear for some of the invitations to the Tour de France.

75 thoughts on “Team Victory Rankings”

  1. Kristoff has previously ridden Tour of Norway and/or Tour de Fjords in May. He rode ToC for the second time this year, and struggles. Ha arrived late, and wasn´t near anything. The recent years he has taken easy stage wins in Norway in May, but this year he only got the victory in Frankfurt.

    I think this partly explains few victories, but he seems less dominant. He has worked with his strength, so perhaps he will do better in TDF then in 2015 and 2016.

  2. Does spending more money = more wins? Seeing Ag2R and Team Sky performances so far the answer is probably no. But it’d be interesting to know the total budget divided by the number of wins for each team.

      • It’s a question of priorities. Movistar’s Spanish sponsor is, I’m sure, thrilled with their many minor victories at home. Meanwhile Sky have had comparatively few wins, but the ones they’ve clocked up have been high profile. Likewise if Froome wins another grand tour, then those expensive domestiques will be considered good value.

        • Team Sky prioritise the Tour above all else regardless of what Brailsford says about wanting to be undeniably the best team in the world. If they won minor races and no Tours I can’t imagine Sky the media company would be nearly as satisfied, not least when media storms blow up around the team.

        • Movistar race and wins a lot in Spain, in minor races, too (helping them to survive more than making happy its sponsor, even if I guess that the sponsor won’t complain, either), but I don’t think inrng ever spoke of “minor victories”…
          Apparently Movistar can comply with both the “priorities” of supporting their local scene (as Sky does, too) *and* winning bigger than most rivals, with as many *big* victories as the most prolific competitors.

          Even if you count for Movistar *only* WT wins (12), you’ll discover they’re just one less than Sky’s *total* wins (13, which include three from Herald Sun Tour, the Colombian NC or a modest Amgen stage, along the rest – which is indeed very good).

          If it wasn’t for Cali, which is quite laughable as a WT race and is considered by UCI itself as a”second tier WT”, Sky would have exactly *half* of the “high profile” wins Movistar’s got (6+1 vs. 12).

          In fact, two of the *major* short stage races in cycling are held precisely in Spain, Catalunya and País Vasco, and Movistar won both of them, plus stage victories. But the problem about that isn’t Movistar’s, it’s for those who might wonder “where Movistar got its victories”.
          (Along with Tirreno and a couple of Giro stages in Italy, Fléche and Liège in Belgium…)

          Despite an high profile season by Sky, even taking completely away those Spanish race which are indeed “minor” (not as “minor” as HST, anyway), Movistar still got one final GC more than Sky (Tirreno, Catalunya, País Vasco vs. Pa-Ni and Trentino), one Giro stage more and two more stages in top short stage races (frankly, I’d count the Trentino stage for Sky but not the Amgen one, even if the latter is WT and the former isn’t). Classics might be considered even, with Liège and Fléche vs. Sanremo and Strade Bianche.

          I guess that Sky will come back strongly for the “French block” of Dauphiné + Tour.

          • If you’re going to get into “tiers” of World Tour wins you might also find that Pais Vasco and Catalunya are a notch below stuff like Milano-San Remo or Paris-Nice, so careful on that slippery slope. You also seem to think I’m defending Sky, I’m not, by their standards and for their budget they’ve had a comparatively poor start to the year. Froome especially is missing in action, he’s been a consistent winner of early season stage races over the past few years, and he was. But as Nibali showed in 2014 you can be nowhere all year, pull it all out at the Tour de France and everyone will consider your season a roaring success….

          • All 7 major one-week Tours are on the same level. Paris-Nice is not at all more prestigious than Basque Country or Catalonia. Or Suisse or Romandie.

          • Is it too simplistic to say that when it comes to stage races Movistar are a team that goes for wins and Sky are a team that only goes for the big win? That’s not to say that Movistar didn’t throw great effort behind winning for Nairo but I can’t imagine a Sky DS sanctioning Izagirre’s breakaway victory at the Giro.

            Of course, it also helps Movistar that they have the evergreen (and almost always racing) Valverde. He has 11 of their wins this season.

            I don’t buy RonDe’s assertion that Sky only prioritise the Tour though. Their results in the monuments last year were 2, 5, 3, 1, 26. Those are not the positions of a team that only cares about three weeks in France.

          • @ Ferdi – I am not sure which races you consider the “7 major one-week Tours” but your claim is hard to back up. I am going to guess you mean Paris Nice, Tirreno Adriatico, Dauphine, Pais Vasco, Catalunya, Romandie & Suisse. The first thing to point out is that UCI awards fewer points for Pais Vasco and Catalunya that the other five named so they would appear to disagree that they are all equal.

            Their points system is odd, however, in that it puts the Tour Down Under in the same category as the five above which seems a stretch for a race founded in 1999, so I woudn’t take it as the categorical answer. Any view is subjective but personally I would rank Paris-Nice, Tirenno Adriatico, Dauphine and Suisse as the most prestigious with Catalunya next followed by Pais Vasco and then Romandie.

          • If the Team Victory rankings tell us anything then it is that the surest way you can go to getting wins is enlisting a top-tier sprinter and dedicating part of your team as a lead-out train/support to them. I think Sky’s results reflect that, even with Viviani who is maybe not top-tier but faster than one victory all year. Obviously there are outliers in the WT rankings so it is not that simple, BMC and Movistar for example, but at Pro-Conti level then you’d have to look at Cofidis and Direct Energie as a possible template.

          • @Augie March
            Slippery slope? I made a one to one comparison you might have read above. Milano-San Remo is a Monument like the Liège, I don’t get why you’re trying to match it with stage races when there’s precisely a Monument to weigh it against…
            Paris-Nice, as Ferdi says, is on the same tier as the others, despite the UCI points, which are, as always determined by political decision way more than being based on sporting value (whose consequences is what @Dave H happens to notice). At least, I hope it’s that and not sheer ignorance or pure greed.
            Paris-Nice is living a lacklustre period in recent years, even if it still can offer great racing, but the fact that Tirreno-Adriatico stopped being a pre-Sanremo test changed many things.
            País Vasco is probably the more technically challenging of them all, Catalunya thrives on a long history and a very notable field.
            I’d also value Trentino (Alps) above his UCI category, and I placed it on the same level as the other short stage races, albeit, as Ferdi notes, it’s not probably on the same level as the best ones – which includes the Spanish ones.
            It’s on Romandie’s level, I think (Romandie is another race which is hugely suffering, mainly because of poor courses, as it happened to the Suisse, which is the one with the most relevant historical legacy, but which went through dire years, before a recent shift in attitude which granted fine racing and fields again).
            As races in themselves, that is, in a long-term perspective and without relating them to other events, Catalunya and País Vasco are probably more relevant than Dauphiné itself, which, before the novelties in “preparation”, was essentially a race you shouldn’t enter in top form, if you wanted to perform in the TdF. It was not a race you won because you wanted it (while the above mentioned ones always were like that), you were there thinking about the Tour. That factor limited quite much the quality of racing and victories. Sky itself with their different approach endowed greater importance on the race, within a whole different marketing frame which gave the French race a meaning it never had.

          • Ok. The hierarchy of one-week races. Complex subject. Gabriele has a lot of truth. I won’t try to be synthetic or systematic. My perception is based on memories throughout 5 decades:
            – To begin with I remember the defunct ones (Midi Libre above all, that undoubtedly ranked as high as any other, but also many Spanish ones, like Setmana Catalana, Bizikleta Vasca or Eibarresa, Valles Mineros, and others, including soon-to-be-missed Critérium International, and other provincial French stage races, and not forgetting Portugal either.
            – The 7 major ones that are left standing have become very similar. Froome or Valverde could win them all in the same year if they tried (nice bet, ay?). In the old days, they were all strikingly different: T-A had no serious climbing, but lots of rugged sprint stages (I loved it), Midi-Libre very little mountain, P-N not much more, Romandie (as usual) less mountain than rain, País Vasco’s climbs were many but not big, and Dauphiné Libéré and the Volta (no question what Volta we talked about) were the adult, big-climb, long-TT, races.
            – I remember one interview with Sean Kelly in the “Miroir du Cyclisme”, after joining Kas, when, being asked about the difference of riding for a Spanish team, as opposed to a French or Belgian team, and he saying something to the effect that the one-week races in Spain being, and he specifically mentioned País Vasco and the Volta, something different and “better” in terms of difficulty, competition, and craziness. That interview stuck with me, I’d like to read it again. The thing with the Basque and Catalonian races is that, although they have been struggling with financing lately, they are the heirs of a wealth of races (the “Bicicletas” I mentioned in the Basque Country, plus the “Subida a Arrate”; and the “Setmana Catalana” plus the Masferrer trophy, the Jaumandreu trophy and others). All of that heritage is now channeled in those two races.
            – Much to my dismay, I disagree with Gabriele in that the Tour de Suisse has the biggest history. The Volta has it. It’s much older, and has always had a better field, and a more impressive roster of winners (owing largely to the monopoly it used to have among post-summer, post -TdF, post-Worlds, stage races: it was really fantastic in september, before the Vuelta moved its calendar slot, those dried-out Western Pyrenees…). The thing with Suisse is that it can only happen in the very summer and close to the TdF, which has always conditioned it, but it is a couple of days longer, and should generally be harder than any other one-week race…. Comparing it with P-N should be a no-brainer).
            – On contemporary races: Algarve and Andalucia are doing a great job, but it’s still February. Trentino is doing fine too, although I wish Italy focused on one-day races a but more. Austria was improving and has potential, but it seems to have stalled. Belgium and Eneco seem to fill the gap T-A has left vacant, so they have great potential.
            – And if you ask me if I discriminate against the races not taking place in the traditional cycling hotbeds, by considering that a race in Switzerland, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain or the Netherlands, is more the “real McKoy” than a race in Norway, Poland, Australia, Germany, the US or Britain I say: with all due respect, YES.

  3. OOOOOOOO this is interesting…. can we get some transfer predications…. silly seasons almost upon us…..

    who’s going where, who’s up for grabs….. are we all waiting for news on QuickStep? I’m going to assume they’re sticking around as a team:

    QS – Do they actually need to replace TB? Could they go in for someone like Naesen?
    Movi – Likewise what to add? Great team. Valverde ever green, just hold onto the big domestiques?
    BMC – Even if TVG leaves, with GVA and Porte is there a need for more? Just climbing support.
    Orica – Retain leaders and then add climbing domestiques or is the budget spread thin already?
    DD – They’re pretty good right now? Need a cobbles leader? Budget permitting?
    FDJ – Need another regular winner or stage race leader, does budget say yes?
    LottoJ – Hard to say, lots of Indians no outright chief…
    UAE – Not a bad roster, just need to turn winners into regular winners or replace?
    LottoS – Interesting, stick or twist? Good roster just needs Gallopin & Benoot to come good.
    Kat – This is an interesting one – more support for Kristoff or is he leaving?
    Bora – More support for Sagan, very obviously, does his wage prohibit this?
    Bah – I wonder if they’ll get another leader with an ageing Nibali, Landa would be a brilliant signing.
    Sun – Keep Dumoulin… and do anything to make that happen – more support, more sponsors…
    Trek – Will Contador retire, perfect team for Dumoulin unless the big guys come calling?
    A2r – Great roster with Bardet and Naesen, like all the small GT teams, more support needed.
    Can – Interesting, have Uran, Rolland and other been worth the gamble? What is the identity of team?
    Ast – They must be going all out for Landa surely? Disaster since Nibali left…

    Throw some names in the hat…

      • Team Sky to buy Quintana, teh marginal gainz lead to Quintana taking the yellow jersey off Froome in a flat ITT, Quintana subsequently banished to ride the Eneco Tour.

    • Vino is probably getting his lycra cleaned and ready to go and has called all his doctors, he’s making a comeback.

      Astana is done, they’re toast. Awful team.

      Once again, I’m really sorry about Scarponi, that was a big blow for the cycling community. Was he wearing a helmet on this ride?

      • “Was he wearing a helmet on this ride?”. Please think before posting.

        (He was. But not only the helmet is generally of little use protecting cyclists when the crash involves a moving motorised vehicle, it’s *specifically* pretty much useless when that vehicle is a lorry – any reference to the helmet in case of traffic cycling deaths is as questionable as asking how the victim of a rape was dressing. “The helmet” essentially makes sense to protect your head when you fall down by yourself – and to misguide safety campaigns, obviously)

          • Yeah – you misjudged that CA – not the question to be asking as it inevitably insinuates if he wasn’t, then it was his fault. I doubt you’d actually think that, and assume this was asked out of curiosity for whatever reasons – but questions like that are always a one way ticket to causing offence and seeming inconsiderate. Apologies if I sound patronising but trying to write an actual reason rather than be curt.

      • CA- this is very amusing by my kit is new for every ride, then goes to team. Shoes I keep 6 weeks if I like. Opinions are like Americans…

    • Kristoff has complained about Katusha criticising him for being fat. I think he’ll sign for Quick Step as replacement for Boonen.
      I hope Landa goes somewhere he can be an outright leader too. Having to ride the Vuelta second fiddle to Froome just in case Froome has the form to carry on after the Tour is bound to sting for a Spaniard (I know he’s Basque).

      • Is Kristoff really a replacement for Boonen – also would he clash with Kitell and Gavria? Can’t see them going for Kristoff, although you have a point – if they want a rider who has the potency of Boonen they’d need someone who has a sprint and would likely clash with their other sprinters? GVA is the only proven winner out there it seeems that wouldn’t, or Sagan but neither will happen… It’s quite hard to see how they actually fill the void? Sagan is the only Cancellara figure out there. I think I stick by Naesen – ps how is Naesen in a race finish situation with a reduced bunch? Or Moscon…

        • Quick Step in its various incarnations has never been a team to worry about having too many chiefs. How would Gilbert, Alaphilippe and Martin have worked together in the Ardennes if they were all fit?! Wout van Aert has expressed an interest in concentrating on the classics next year, maybe they’ll sign him as the next big Belgian thing.

    • As much as the likes of Ast, UAE, Bah would like to have Landa, I don’t see him leaving Sky.

      At Sky, at least he can have a descent tilt at the Giro (good team support, sole leader if not so many TTs, co-leader otherwise). And who knows, if Froome has his Tour-Vuelta double itch scratched or otherwise indispensable during the period, he may even get to have a go at the Vuelta.

      At other teams, he maybe the outright leader, he wouldn’t get the same level of support either in terms of training/sport science support or in race support from the team.

      Most importantly, he still needs to convince team mates (and possibly a few DS in the car) that he is a worthy team leader at the new team. Whilst with Sky, he has done this task with his persistence at the Giro this year. Such belief is very crucial when things really gets tough.

  4. I think of Astana as an Italian team really, mostly being based there, and after a dismal Giro to be Italian I can’t help feeling more than ever that we’re seeing the total collapse of Italian cycling. Lampre leaving seems less serious than the Pay to Race scandal and the total lack of anything more than ‘suicidal’ breakaways from the Italian teams and even riders in the Giro (Conti an honourable exception, but there’s no knowing he’d have won that sprint).
    Sure there are some very exciting riders, Rosa, Aru, Conti, Formolo, but no team left to tie them together, and with the rise of English as cycling’s lingua franca (sic) I wonder how many teams left even speak Italian? Is there any future in the idea, and would Astana or someone else consider re-registering as Italian? Would there be any benefits to doing so?

    • Forgot to mention Bahrain, but given the country’s in the title and it’s so new, the concentration of aged Italian stars (how it must sting for Visconti to be asked to ride for Nibali!) seems despite the team rather than because.

      • Bahrain and UAE Emirates, despite their “national” title (a bit like Astana, no?) are quite much Italian structures, perhaps even more so than Astana.
        Besides Astana, Trek-Segafredo has a very strong Italian component, just as BMC, even if in the latter it’s concentrated in sport direction, not in management.
        In Katusha’s structure, despite its growing internationalisation, a couple of key-roles are Italian, one DS and the coaching direction.
        The rest of teams have several Italian human resources here and there, quite logical given the know-how, but it’s less structural, indeed.

        The huge inflation in team funding have brought away cycling from the social and economical environment in which it used to thrive in Italy.

        Sugardaddies, national public support (lotteries and the likes) and cycling-related companies aside, you now should speak to financial (banks, insurance; real estate, even), energy, IT or communication companies, in short, big and/or international corporations.
        A significant part of the Italian cycling management isn’t just, how could I say,… apt? Prepared?… to do that.
        And the potential sponsors put their money into the biggest pro races or granfondos.
        After all, the whole Giro’s got a turnover of some 40-50 M or so, and sponsors receive huge coverage throwing in some 12-13 M or so (summing up all of them!).
        Why should they back a team? They’d barely get a mediocre team, for the same money, all together, and would probably get less exposure.

        The lack of balance will be manifest throughout the sport as a whole: after all, I don’t think that the TdF is much bigger than 120-150 M. Teams are simply too expensive, within this scenario.

        PS In fact, Visconti managed to go through the whole Giro without *really* ever riding for Nibali. Disappointing. I suspect that someone else is feeling the stings, thinking about more effective gregari he could count on in a recent past…

        • I hope they also invest in other races, and reviving all of those Italian semi-classics. And let’s hope pro teams get deflated, and sugardaddies and Governments put their money on health, education, and social protection.

        • Indeed you’re right, note I said ‘asked to ride’ 🙂
          Thank you, this is all interesting. I can only hope a few things change, because there’s also no chance of one of the minor teams moving up.

          • Wilier Selle Italia have made noises about moving up to WT status in three years time. One of the reasons that the Giro organisers picked them over Androni and Nippo as they have a ‘project’ and it was felt that the other two didn’t.

  5. On a slight tangent. Good to see the Basque team making steady progress, they are looking to go Pro Conti for 2018. Euskadi Basque Country- Murias Taldea. For fifty euro you can join the supporters club, which gets you a tee and some other benefits to. I know Mick is a big supporter at Prendas selling kit. Saw them in a few 1.2/2.1 races this year. Even in these super austere times, there is always a way to get to the races #GureTaldea🤘🍀

    • They’re one of the teams who could benefit from moving up… if they can secure more sponsorship in order to buy in a couple of World Tour level Basque riders. If they can do this then wildcard invitations to many Spanish races, including the Vuelta, await.

    • Like any politician worthy of voting for, I proceed to break the solemn promise I made just a few days ago and post a comment. Just this once.
      This was news two weeks ago and was reported here by yours truly the same day, May 16th. Going Pro Conti is of course not a matter of unilateral declaration by any team that wants to enter that category and Euskadi will be subject to the usual scrutiny and has to meet the criteria set by the UCI, but a symbolic first step was taken today when UCI president Brian Cookson met a representative from the team. But it looks good and there is every reason to believe the team will indeed make the jump next year.

      I shall repeat the other, perhaps even brighter piece of news from the press conference two weeks ago: the team was as good as promised of getting a wild card entry to the Vuelta in 2018, subject of course to the move to Pro Conti ranks becoming a reality.

      Last and maybe even least, the (official) name of the team is “just” Euskadi Basque Country – Murias. “Talde” is Basque for “group”, and “taldea” is the absolutive case or, roughly, “(the) group”. Murias Taldea or “Murias Group” is what the big construction group of companies calls itself.

      “Euskadi Basque Country” with the two words in English is the verbal logo or whatever it is called of the Tourism Board or Authority of “Euskadi”, the Basque Autonomic Community in Spain. (“Euskal Herria”, which you may or may not have seen, refers to the entire Basque Country, also including the parts in France.

      But I digress. I’ll get my coat…

      • Eskerrik Asko, do you know if it the team will have the same Basque-bred only approach to rider recruitment and development as the Euskadi team did (prior to the last year of their existence)? I know the current Conti team does.

        • The goal is still most definitively to be as wholly and genuinely Basque like Euskaltel-Euskadi (until that fateful – and slightly farcical – season), but unfortunately I have no real insight into how far or at what point the management or the main sponsor would be ready to compromise.
          However, I’m quite optimistic and believe that a future as a Pro Conti team with a practically guaranteed Vuelta entry each year is quite feasible, And if the price of sticking to their ideal policy is never making a further jump up to World Tour level, I think they’ll willingly pay it.

          PS I’m not Basque myself. I’m not even a half Basque or a wannabe Basque, but I’ve been a kind of hangaround Basque since the late 1980’s (when times, especially in Basque country, were different).

          PPS Once, not such a long time ago, I was in convivial Basque company and a glass was raised to celebrate me as a honorary Basque. Only a few moments later, the undeniably pleasantly surprised smile still on my face, someone said: “Not really, just kidding!” and, more seriously: “There can be no such thing as a honorary Basque, You are Basque or you are not Basque and that is that”. To which someone else quickly added: “Well, there is Samu!” and the mood was all cheerful and festive again!

    • I prefer when bike races who don’t use the vernacular borrow French instead of English. French is a cycling language and cycling is a world of its own. As in “Tour de Pologne”.

      • Ah – is it really that big of a deal? I don’t really care when restaurants use French, just the way it is, pretty understandable.

  6. Speaking of happy sponsors, I’m sure Scott must be satisfied with how their move up to co-title sponsor is going this year. INRNG has been saying for years that Orica needed a second sponsor so it’s good someone listened.

    • Yeah – good point – Orica have been so well managed over the years – immediate impact and then slowly and successfully morphing into a GT and decent sprint outfit.

      Interesting also that they’ve always had a good public profile, similar to Sunweb so you rarely forget them the way you do UAE. Maybe it’s an English language thing though?

      • I think Sunweb and Tom Dumoulin will have a lot more fans now as he’s a likeable, and very frank guy. The English language thing is obviously a factor, but then Peter Sagan has gained legions of fans despite speaking very poor English – his strength on the bike and general antics cross cultural and linguistic divides. Perhaps the problem with UAE is that they lack a charismatic rider, or that their social media team seem amateurish, I mean they didn’t even take over the old Lampre Twitter handle instead starting their own and losing all their old followers.

        • I wish my Slovak was as bad as Sagan’s “very poor” English 🤔, I suspect most Anglophones can perfectly well understand him.

          • I can understand Sagan’s English just fine but it’s still simple stuff, I’ve yet to read an in depth interview with him that covers more than the usual “I try to win, the team did a great job” etc. It probably takes a Slovak journalist to ask him more meaningful questions about his background, ambitions and more.

          • While I’m still here, I take the opportunity to ask. Isn’t his Italian quite adequate for him to express himself far better than in English or good enough to conduct an in-depth interview? After all, he spent 4-5 years in Liquigas (where Italian was still the linqua franca, I believe)!

            PS It is notaworthy that Russian, Polish and many other East and Central European cyclists “historically” joined Italian clubs and teams and Italian was (and in many cases still is) their first (and sometimes only) foreign language.
            In those education systems oreign languages were often not taught to the entire age group or beyond a quite basic level only to those who were destined for university. And English wasn’t the first choice then, it came after Russian (when applicable), German and even Spanish – but now it’s of course a completely different order of preference.

            PPS Vino had his absolutely delightful (or so I’ve been told) French! Tere were French clubs and teams which sort of had their own lines of import which can still be seen for instance in the presence of Estonian riders who ride for or have ridden for Cofidis.

          • Good stuff there Eskerrik Asko. Just looked it up, the 1989 and 1990 Alfa-Lum teams at the Tour de France were entirely ex-/Soviet (Tchmil, Konyshev, Abdoujaparov). But the first such rider I recall noticing was V. Ekimov, who won a stage of the 1989 Tour de Trump as a 19 yr old amateur riding for an actual Soviet team (finish was in New Paltz, New York). He went Dutch and signed with Panasonic, staying on through sponsor changes including one season as Rabobank before moving to US Postal. By 2006 he had started and finished 15 Tours de France.

          • Before that the Vuelta had been inviting the Soviet national team in the 1980’s, recognizable in their all-red jerseys with Ivan Ivanov make himself a name in 1989 (he took a stage and apparently helped Delgado defend himself from Colombia’s Fabio Parra).
            On Sagan’s Italian, I remember seeing him, very young, losing a sprint against I don’t remember who, but reading very clearly his lips shouting “Vaffanculo!” to his rival as he raised his arms. But I don’t know if this says more about his linguistic skills or about a conceivable obsession with backsides. 😛

        • Yep, not surprised – good bit knowledge on the twitter handle (Gabriele-esq), you get the feeling that a team with the aesthetic judgement to send out a jersey that poor might also have a social media team not quite up to the task…

          With Orica – I don’t think the Yates or Ewan are that charismatic (Chavez obviously is) but the team have still done a great job with their public profile – similar to Sunweb who had themselves well positioned already to take advantage of someone with the warmth and likability of Dumoulin.

          It’s such a shame when you see a team missing so hard on all fronts like UAE.

          Although maybe you did just need the wins and characters – Cannondale don’t have the public clout without their old riders from the Garmin days however good their media team are.

          Do you think Kristoff could go to Garmin?

          That would be a brilliant signing… he’d already have great support there for classics, plus bring their youngers riders through, plus bring them wins and a leader who (as far as I know?) is generally liked… the only negative is it might stifle their climbers races splitting the teams, but surely a price worth paying? If they got Uran, Rolland off the wage bill they’d be swapping them for a proven winner with many more years left in the legs?

          If I were them I’d be bending over backwards to get him across…

          Just as Trek should be seriously looking at Dumoulin or Chavez should Contador retire – (I was even wondering if a Trek/Sunweb merge would be an option?) and Bahrain going for Landa.


          • Gabriele-esque? I guess that’s a complement so cheers 😉

            I agree, the Yates twins are as ordinary as they are identical and Ewan is too, but Dan Jones does an excellent job in his videos of making the team look good, and there are always more interesting personalities around, like Luka Mezec and the much missed Pieter Weening.

            Kristoff to Cannonade could work, Vaughters has plenty of talented riders and a solid leader they could all get behind would help (although perhaps in some of the flatter classics there could be a clash with Vanmarcke’s ambitions). I don’t know what’s going on with Katusha, they got rid of most of their Russian riders and are calling themselves a Swiss team now, but Kristoff seems to fighting with management from some public statements and other than Martin and to a lesser extent Zakarin they lack star riders now Rodreguiez has retired.

            And when I was talking about Sagan’s English I meant all things being relative. As a professional sportsman in an international sport, yes even cycling, sorry Larry, English proficiency is almost mandatory, especially for a superstar like Sagan. So I’m only comparing Sagan to other cyclists, notice how fluent Dumoulin is. While most appreciated his attacking riding style, let’s not kid ourselves about why Jens Voigt became a beloved public figure, it wasn’t for the quality of his wins.

          • As I (indirectly) pointed out, a comparison between Dumoulin and Sagan is a bit unfair (even if it is a perfectly relevant one).
            Tom is Dutch and the Netherlands are the most English-speaking of countries, i.e. you can expect the average man to have learnt English at school and to speak fairly fluently without too much of an accent. (The Scandinavian countries come next and the accent will not be too noticeable, then perhaps Finland and Germany and it is a matter of opinion in which of the two the accent can be more deplorable.) And he has raced in a Dutch team where English was the language used in communicaion between riders, staff and management who weren’t native speakers.
            Whereas Peter probably is still too young to have been taught English from an early age by competent teachers and he spent his formative years in terms of acquiring language skills in an Italian team.

            That said, what strikes me that both are not only good-looking guys in a much sought after fashion, they are also as if created to fill in a certain niche, they meet almost 100% the picture of a certain very marketable kind of cyclist – in very high contrast to ordinary looking guys with personalities that appear dull or completely uninteresting to cycling fans and general audiences alike.
            I don’t have anything against either – and i sincerely hope they will both be around and succesful for a very long time indeed!

          • I’m still here, I’m ashamed to admit. But this is to comment on the Kristoff to stay or leave and if the latter where -issue:
   tells us that according to a Belgian news source Astana is after the rider also known as the “Stavanger Express”. Vinokourov wants a strong rider for the classics. The likely package would be the trio of Kristoff and his two mainmen Sven Erik Bystrøm and Michael Mørkøv.
            No comment yet from Kristoff, his coach or his agent, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were keen.

  7. Re: Dumoulin breaking out of the sports pages and onto the front page: I would not have expected differently. Even last year Kruijswijk was getting attention from general media when he was in a good position to win the Giro. Cycling is mainstream sports in The Netherlands after all. I don’t have the numbers but I would guess it shares third with tennis in terms of long term generalist media attention. Still miles and miles away from football though*. NOS (and Sporza, which draws a lot of Dutch viewers) must have been pissed at the Eurosport deal exactly in the year that a: Giro awareness in the general audience has increased due to SK’s results last year and b: There were no less than three serious top five candidates from The Netherlands entering the Giro. They have the Tour of course, but the biggest crowds are drawn when there is a Dutchman in the mix for the podium. I don’t think Gesink is capable of that. Things are looking up though compared to the last decades, I think many Dutch cycling fans are already looking forward to next year’s TDF. And maybe Groenewegen can do something in the sprints this year.

    *All based on my personal impressions. Second place is speed skating(!). Currently Max Verstappen is also getting lots of coverage but before he joined the circus Formula 1 wasn’t covered much outside sport-specific media.

    • A (presumably Dutch-attributable?) cycling/speed skating nexus is pretty unmistakable in US cycling. Sheila Young (BMC manager Jim Ochowicz’ wife), Eric and Beth Heiden, and Connie Carpenter-Phinney (Taylor’s mom) are all former Olympic speed skaters from Wisconsin. Young and Carpenter were also Olympic cyclists; Beth Heiden was UCI World Road Champion in 1980. Eric Heiden was far the weakest as a cyclist, but not too bad as a skater. Tejay van Garderen and Christian Vande Velde are not from Wisconsin, so maybe they don’t skate.

  8. Taking the opportunity of several comments here about language. French, as we all know, was the official language of cycling and Italian the unofficial one (Froome is rather traditional, in that sense, as we all may have noticed in a recent Vuelta…).

    Armstrong much more than anyone else before has brought into the sport English as a very needed language, just as a growing internasionalisaton, as Augie March noted above.

    Yet, it’s interesting to observe that – as it is often the case – English in cycling is working mainly as a “lingua franca” (since the concept has been called for above) which everybody is been taught as his or her second language. In most teams, you’ll find staff and rider speaking English because it’s what they’ve got in common, but the natives are still quite few.

    And if we refer to the *public* of cycling, well, I’d dare to say that not only English native speakers are a tiny minority (barely a 10%), but, probably, we also should add that an impressive percentage of the global spectators… don’t understand a word of English at all!

    A bit more than *half* of the Tour de France’s global public – I mean, people actually watching the race, not reading a one-liner in some RSS feed – is provided by just *three* countries: France, Italy and Spain. None of them is famous for the English level of their population 😉 (Belgium would deserve to be included, but its audience contribution is limited in absolute terms – albeit extraordinary as a national share – and I don’t really know what their English is like).

    Throw in a bit of demographic (the general quantity of uneducated population in Italy and Spain, as long as formal education is concerned, at least; the elder age and the lower class background of many cycling fan), and you might get what I mean… not even a single word of English!

    The *total* TdF public from UK + USA + Australia, summing them up all together, is normally more or less equal to the public of Italy only *or* Spain only (and about a third part of the French one).

    And there’s *no* special growing tendence in those English-speaking countries, either: Australia went up for Cadel, then duly down and is now more or less steady, UK hit a peak for Wiggo, then dropped for Froome 2013 and then slowly recovered (but it didn’t get back to Wiggo’s level, yet). USA, well, the Armstrong’s years are far back and now they float around the 300K mark.

    On the contrary, 2016 apart (a freaking disaster audience-wise everywhere, except UK which was stable), the three main countries, Italy, French and Spain all saw figures grow from 2010 to 2015, more or less +25% in France, +50% in Italy and Spain. France’s growth 2010-2015 (the growth alone!) is worth the total number of UK spectators. Spain’s growth (again, the growth alone) is worth all viewers from USA + Australia.

    Please note that I chose a borderline situation: the TdF is by far the most international race: in the case of other races, let alone the Classics!, the situation becomes even more extreme.

    This is why *most* knowledge, debate, information about cycling is just… not happening in English. The political impact of CIO and UCI politics in the last couple of decades shifted – up to a certain point – the self-representation of the sport (huge comic moments when RCS decided, some years ago, to use English-only on-screen TV graphics for the Italian feed, too).
    Yet, the fanbase shared culture, the circulation of insider information through unofficial means, the sort of consensus about what’s meaningful, the soon cited “unwritten rules”, that’s mainly happening in broader fan communities which sometimes find even easier to cross the linguistic barrier between, say, Italian and French or Italian and Spanish than checking the English media and forums, whose level is often hair-rising (yes, I’m speaking about you, CN).
    Just one single example among many relevant ones: you can track down where new concepts about courses came from, and a lot of them, both specific (say, climbs) and more general (about the course structure) were origined from the fanbase and grassroots, essentially in Spanish and in Italian environments.

    The UK is an example for everybody (especially Spain and Italy!) for the work their Federation and their other institutions have been doing about cycling, and sport is just a part of that. It’s a world level model in many sense. Orica-Scott is a world level example of PR, getting the best racing from your resources and managing young riders. I personally admire both and suggest them as what should be copied as much as possible.

    Though, most of that is up -> down (which is a great way – if not the best one – to have things moving, getting ’em started, generating an impulse), while the broader cycling community is still elsewhere.

    It’s complicated not to be a native in any language, however hard you try to master it… most fans from the historical countries are “cycling natives”, their ideas get forged within the frame of a broader community and a decades-long legacy. Most “new” fans learned cycling as their second or third language, and that’s very worthy but not an easy position at all to find yourself in, as I know far too well from my personal experience with foreign tongues 😛

    • PS No need to say that most literary traditions include several masterpieces whose author wrote them in what was *not* his or her mother tongue… and a good deal of the European heritage was written in Latin when it had already become a lingua franca which wasn’t anymore anyone’s native tongue.

  9. Whoo! English not an important cycling language: got it. Agree.

    Inrng readers are well aware that “*most* knowledge, debate, information about cycling is just… not happening in English.” One great thing about inrng is that he covers some of that coverage, and it’s clear he does not and could not rely only on English reports for the kind of “news” he often writes about.

    PS- Wasn’t going to mention Nabokov or Beckett, just wanted to ask whether your views that we see here en ingles should be considered authoritative?

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