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.
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.
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.