With the season finished it’s time to look back at the wins and also take a deeper look at the stats. Which teams had the most podium places but the fewest wins? Which teams are the most reliant on one rider?
Quick Step top the table and by now you’re probably bored of it all, the record number of wins for the team, the 73 wins which isn’t far from Columbia-HTC’s 85 wins in 2009 but it’s still worth noting once again. “The Wolfpack” label came from directeur sportif Brian Holm signing off his emails “we’re the wolfpack and we take no prisoners”. Elia Viviani delivered the most wins with 14 victories, with Julian Alaphilippe on 12 and Fernando Gaviria on 9 and, even excluding team time trials, half the roster had a win to their name during 2018. The price of success is retaining riders whose value has shot up, there’s money to keep Enric Mas but otherwise note the exodus with Niki Terpstra going to Direct Energie, Fernando Gaviria to UAE-Emirates, Max Schachmann to Bora-Hansgrohe among others and the 2019 version of this team, Deceuninck-Quick Step will surely win a lot, maybe just not as much.
Team Sky finish on 42 wins, comparable to recent years but short of their record year, 2012 when they had Mark Cavendish as their house sprinter and 50 wins. As ever it’s a tale of quality as well as quantity, the Giro d’Italia and the Tour although for all the glory these add to a palmarès, the ledger saw the first half of the year dominated with coverage of Froome’s salbutamol case rather than, say, Michał Kwiatkowski’s Tirreno-Adriatico win. Now management end the year with more enjoyable concerns, like the enviable dilemma of who to send back to the grand tours, all while deciding where Egan Bernal goes too. Kwiatkowski was their most prolific rider. One curiosity was the absence of wins in April and the spring classics but even Sky have to manage resources and seem more focussed on stage racing.
Mitchelton-Scott have 38 wins, all the more impressive when you consider Caleb Ewan “only” had four wins this year, a slow start – but second in Sanremo – and then benched for the Tour de France, they could have conceivably finished second on the table. Simon Yates was their most prolific rider with eight wins and went from losing Paris-Nice and the Giro to winning the Vuelta and he must be licking his lips at the Tour de France route.
Bora-Hansgrohe, Groupama-FDJ and Lotto-Jumbo are all tied on 33 wins and each have surpassed expectations. Bora’s most prolific rider? Pascal Ackermann (pictured) started the year without a win to his name and finishes with nine, one more than Peter Sagan on eight and it’ll be interesting to see how the team manages the pair, plus Sam Bennett. Groupama-FDJ’s leaders Arnaud Démare and Thibaut Pinot took 14 wins between them including Démare’s Tour du Poitou-Charentes razzia where he won every stage, including the TT, plus the overall. As a French team the Tour de France is the big deal and Démare “saved the furniture” as they say with his stage win in Pau and they’ve made a big signing in Stefan Küng, adding to an already thriving Swiss contingent where he’ll be a player in the classics and an engine for team time trials. Lotto-Jumbo have arguably the best sprinter going in Dylan Groenewegen who took 14 wins this year and impressed too thanks to versatility like his uphill sprint in Paris-Nice and is surely only going to get faster. They were also impressive in the stage races, Steven Kruijswijk didn’t win but his long raid in the Tour de France is memorable and Primož Roglič is podium potential in a grand tour.
Mid-table and Astana had a solid season but nothing exceptional, two Tour de France stage wins are probably the highlight. Bahrain-Merida‘s 28 wins keeps them high on the table but they only won four World Tour races and punch below their budget. Movistar have 26 wins, half of them from Alejandro Valverde and you wonder if the “rainbow” curse will strike, not out of superstition but because he’ll spend winter doing more public relations work and frankly what else has he got left to win? BMC have been a curiosity, the team’s lengthy search for a replacement funding source meant many riders didn’t hang around to find out the good news that CCC would be taking over meaning the squad is going to look very different next year and we’re not just talking about the likely orange kit. Trek-Segafredo had 21 wins, the most since the US firm took over the squad and despite 2018 being a notional holding season as they lost Alberto Contador and went shopping for a new leader in Richie Porte who’s bound to deliver wins in 2019 in the week-long stage races.
Ag2r La Mondiale, UAE Emirates and Sunweb will be pleased not to be last. The French team didn’t have the Tour they wanted even if they had a record year for media coverage according to a press release which goes to show winning isn’t everything. UAE Emirates have few results to mention, despite the blue chip corporate branding they’re still the Lampre team underneath and it seems to show only their funding means they’ve been able to hire Fernando Gaviria in to remedy things, although we’ll see if he’s as prolific in 2019 and the betting is surely not. Sunweb didn’t have many wins but will be satisfied by Tom Dumoulin’s riding alone, second in the Tour and Giro and also in the Worlds TT and the promise of converting this into much more, all while Michael Matthews delivered five wins.
Team Dimension Data were plagued by accidents, injury and illness and only have seven wins to show and Ben King saved their season thanks to this two Vuelta stage wins and Ben O’Connor was a revelation. The glass half full version is EF Education First-Drapac won just by continuing, they almost run out of money last year. Half-empty and we might have expected signings like Dan McLay and Sacha Modolo to have won more than one race each. The team are going to put more of an emphasis on riding alternative races next year and it should get them positive headlines when more standard wins don’t even if, and this is becoming an annual refrain, Sep Vanmarcke has to win something big soon. As for these alternative races, a long-standing rule forbids pros from racing non-UCI events (as in UCI or on the calendar of a member federation) but exemptions can be granted and the rule is baloney too.
Last and what a difference a year makes. Marcel Kittel finished 2017 with 14 wins including five stage wins in the Tour de France. In 2018 he had two stage wins in Tirreno-Adriatico and that’s it and his whole Katusha-Alpecin team had a discreet time. They’re still trying to move away from the Team Kremlin image but hold on to the Katusha name as they rebrand themselves as a team for cycling enthusiasts, hiring a range of riders with social media skills to help tap into new markets.
Now a quick look into some more stats from the year
The chart above shows the share of each team’s wins by its lead rider, in other words how dependent a team is on one rider to bring in the wins. It’s somewhat determined by the number of wins, eg Quick Step are the most prolific team with the most prolific rider in Elia Viviani and at the other end of the scale Katusha-Alpecin were dependent on Marcel Kittel for two out of their five wins, it ought to have been a lot more in both cases. Still mid-table Movistar need to think about the post-Valverde era while Astana and Trek-Segafredo had lots of riders winning rather than a clear leader.
This chart shows the share of each team’s podium places with gold, silver and bronze to depict first, second and third places. Normally you’d expect an even distribution but in 2018 some teams struck gold disproportionately, notably Quick Step who, if they had a podium finisher then almost half the time it was a winner and the alchemy of turning silver and bronze chances into gold helps explains their success. Conversely Bahrain-Merida were the nearly men of 2018 with a frequent tendency to place rather than win, with Ag2r on a similar story only far more likely to finish third.
- Methodology: wins are in *.1 races and above and when the rider is wearing riding for their team, eg Alejandro Valverde’s Worlds win is not a triumph for Movistar; nor Yukiya Arashiro’s win in the Tour de Taiwan as he was riding for the Japanese national team. Put simply wins count for a team when a rider is wearing their jersey. Ancillary prizes like points competitions, mountains jerseys don’t count.