With the season finished it’s time to look back at the wins and how the teams fared, 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?
Plenty of races were postponed this year from the summer to the autumn, but many were sadly cancelled. In the last three years the World Tour teams have scored between 460-470 wins between them. For 2020 the total is 286, implying roughly 40% fewer race days.
Deceuninck-Quickstep top the tables just as they have done for the last eight years. They had 39 victories with Remco Evenepoel as their most prolific winner contributing eight, remarkable given he spent much of the season in rehab following his Lombardia crash but testimony to his versatility, he can win on the flat, against the clock and new for 2020, in summit finishes. The team’s model is established, they live for the spring classics and aim for a maximum of victories, they don’t target the overall classification in the big stage races and if a young rider looks like GC potential he’ll go elsewhere for a bigger contract.
UAE Emirates are second and took the biggest prize with Tadej Pogačar’s Tour de France win, he was their most prolific winner too. House sprinter Fernando Gaviria has struggled twice with the coronavirus this year but still landed five wins. They’re a big team near the top of the table yet sometimes it’s hard not to see the old Lampre team underneath. This memory should fade given the focus on recruiting talented new riders but they’ve not rushed into the market to bolster Pogačar’s chances next year, only hiring Rafał Majka and they’ll count on riders like Brandon McNulty to keep improving.
Jumbo-Visma come next and this time it’s thanks to Primož Roglič. A grand tour contender? Certainly but a winning machine as on his way he collects all kinds of stages, he often wins mountain stages out of a small group and time trial stages alike. The Dutch team has a constellation of stars but many have shot up in value so retaining them when their contracts expire and the end of next year is a pressing issue. Can they afford to keep Wout van Aert or would it make sense to give up on bunch sprints and let Dylan Groenewegen go elsewhere? It’s as much a strategic decision as a financial one, arguably the former should drive the latter.
Not long ago that the Bora team looked like Peter Sagan’s entourage bolted onto a modest Pro Conti team but Bora-Hansgrohe barely need the Slovak. Pascal Ackermann is establishing himself as one of the world’s best sprinters and must fancy a crack at the Tour de France soon while the squad is packed with talent for stage races. Paris-Nice winner Max Schachmann is now one of the best riders in the world, albeit a touch forgotten for he missed out on the resumption of the season after breaking his collarbone.
Groupama-FDJ are a surprise fifth, thanks to Arnaud Démare who finishes the year as the rider with the most wins. The story is paradoxical in that he decided to stop going for the classics and focus on his sprinting but has done this so well you wonder if he shouldn’t have a go at the classics because in races like the Tour de Wallonie he was beating the likes of Caleb Ewan one day, Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet the next. They’re a French team but resemble Italian teams of old with a clear leader surrounded by a phalanx of helpers, when they went to the Tour it was all-for-one behind Thibaut Pinot, in the Giro for Démare. David Gaudu will be crucial next year as he emerges from a support role. Atilla Valter is a good signing from CCC.
For Ineos there are wins and wins. Winning each of grand tours in the same season still looks like the big target but nobody predicted they’d have won the Giro with Tao Geoghegan Hart but come up short with Egan Bernal in the Tour and Richard Carapaz in the Vuelta. Filippo Ganna was their most prolific rider, he won all this time trials this season except for the San Luis stage on road bikes in January when Evenepoel won They’ve made some big signings in Adam Yates, Richie Porte, Dani Martinez and Tom Pidcock is one to watch, as much to see how he combines his love of racing with the corporate world of Ineos. But how to win those grand tours? Bernal’s got long term injury challenges, Thomas is a Tour contender but no certainty, ditto Carapaz. All this makes 2021 more interesting.
EF Pro Cycling had a great season with stage wins in all the grand tours and Dani Martinez taking the Critérium du Dauphiné and we got the Hugh Carthy of old in the Vuelta, or rather delivering on the promise from his Caja Rural days. The interesting thing is what comes next with the signing of Hideto Nakane linked to the arrival of new sponsor Nippo, a Japanese construction company and Rigoberto Uràn’s as yet unannounced two year contract extension which is linked to incoming Colombian sponsorship and the establishment of a local development squad.
Team Sunweb has been mocked as a high end development squad among the World Tour but they’ll like that, particularly when Tiesj Benoot took a great Paris-Nice stage win, Marc Hirschi is winning Tour stages and they placed two riders on the Giro’s podium in Milan. If anything the question is why only 16 wins as they can pick off a lot of smaller races but the pandemic’s partly to blame. Signing Romain Bardet is interesting, he’s thrown everything at the Tour de France before and it’s worked when he’s landed on the podium but when it hasn’t it’s consumed the whole season. He’s 30 and has only seven career wins, this should change soon.
Mitchelton-Scott‘s biggest triumph was escaping the Manuela Fundacion farce. The team could never have fallen into the hands of an almost unknown businessman from Andalusia, but the surprise is that the takeover talks went so far. In the wake of all of this they’re still reliant on benefactor in Gerry Ryan but haven’t been able to keep Adam Yates although in comes Michael Matthews.
Astana are another team with backroom difficulties and reports of unpaid salaries before the pandemic had been declared. The funding from Kazakhstan is drying up and so existing sponsor Premier Tech has stepped up, and behind the scenes stock in the team’s managing director, the Belgian Yana Seel is rising while general manager Alexander Vinokourov value is falling. It means the team is struggling to hold onto its riders with Miguel Angel Lopez said to be joining Movistar and Aleksandr Vlasov has apparently already signed with Ineos for 2022 but he’d surely like to move soon given his new contract could well have another zero on the end. Still it was a decent season for them with Jakob Fuglsang landing Il Lombardia and two Tour de France stage wins thanks to Lutsenko and Lopez.
Lotto-Soudal are on 12 with seven from Caleb Ewan who has arguably been best sprinter in the world for the last two years. He delivers when it counts. Tim Wellens is back to winning ways and so too was John Degenkolb. The squad’s made a mid-season announcement that it’ll be focusing on bringing on more youth riders and they’ve signed seven neo-pros for 2021, plus a 22 year old and a 24 year old and it’s bound to have an effect as riders find their feet.
A quiet season for Trek-Segafredo, they’re never the most prolific but injuries and illness hit them hard. They’ll take great satisfaction from Richie Porte’s on the Tour podium. Mads Pedersen delivered three wins, is he a sprinter? Arguably not but there’s a scale that goes from, say Ewan to Démare to Kristoff to Pedersen, what the Dane lacks in pure speed he’s got in brute force at the end of a hard day’s racing. They’ve not been shopping much but neo-pro Antonio Tiberi looks very promising.
Israel Start-Up Nation bought their way into the World Tour for one dollar late last year when they acquired the Katusha team’s UCI licence. The problem was that it was too late to buy new riders so the entered cycling’s top tier with a second tier roster. Harsh, but they’re the paraphrased words of co-owner Sylvan Adams. They did well with Hugo Hofstetter winning Le Samyn, Alex Dowsett a Giro stage and Dan Martin a Vuelta one. The biggest thing they did all year was sign Chris Froome, a big gamble given the way he was riding prior to signature and now given the way he’s been riding since. Even if the Dauphiné crash had never happened Froome’s 35 and for a “start up nation” they’re old assets like Michael Woods and Daryl Impey.
Bahrain-McLaren looks like a pot of money in search of a purpose. Launched with great pomp at the McLaren “Technology Centre” earlier this year, they had the assembled media cooing about Formula 1 collaborations but less than a year later McLaren’s sponsorship is in the bin and they only landed two World Tour wins thanks to Jan Tratnik in the Giro and Ivan Garcia Cortina in Paris-Nice. They’ve signed Jack Haig for next year, a good rider but not prolific either.
CCC rescued the old BMC team but only just and while the team’s new backer was Dariusz Miłek, a former cyclist and long-time benefactor of Polish cycling, his corporate colleagues cut back on the marketing budget and the men’s World Tour team ends. Of the nine wins, six came out of the Tour of Hungary and Josef Czerny’s Giro stage win was the biggest. The licence has been bought by Circus-Wanty but it feels like a paperwork deal rather than a takeover, they get the UCI licence but not much of the roster.
NTT have had a tough time and now the top sponsor is pulling out. It’s been an awkward case study, projected as “Africa’s team”, they’ve looked more Scandinavian of late and tried some Moneyball-style signings. Domenico Pozzovivo was a good example, he recovered from injury to have a very good Giro. Giacomo Nizzolo was their best rider, a string of sprint wins starting Down Under, then Paris-Nice before the Euro and Italian championships but he’d crash out of the Tour de France. There’s talk of a rescue deal but each day seems to bring a story of a new rider leaving and if they ride into 2021 the odds are as a demoted ProTeam.
Ag2r La Mondiale are often in the breakaway but rarely on the podium. The squad’s had five wins and thanks to Nans Peters, the Tour de France stage win they crave. Romain Bardet’s move to Sunweb creates a vacuum that will be filled by classics contenders like Greg Van Avermaet and Bob Jungels but whether this pair can win much is debatable but combined with Oliver Naesen they’ll be interesting to watch. It can often take a couple of years for star riders to co-operate in a race but GVA and Naesen are training pals so a bond is there already. Marc Sarreau could be a clever signing, he’s not going to win World Tour sprints galore but could harvest victories in the smaller Coupe de France races to get them on the scoreboard. Ben O’Connor should help too.
Cofidis have had a torrid time. You know the story by now, they haven’t won a Tour de France stage since Sylvain Chavanel in 2008. They moved up to the World Tour for 2020 and signed Guillaume Martin and Elia Viviani but have just two wins to show, stage wins for Anthony Perez’s in the Tour du Var and Attilio Viviani in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo, both 2.1 status races in January and February. Elia Viviani had ten wins last year but zero here, a hard crash in the Tour Down Under wrecked things and he never quite got his mojo back. Guillaume Martin was close but kept launching his sprint too early, perhaps the guy to play poker with? But it’s not all about wins, on his day Martin can hang with the best in the high mountains and the team has a solid leader to build around… something he knows and been public about calling for team management to improve.
Movistar are joint-last. In 2016 they were third on the scoreboard, now they had fewer podiums than Cofidis but they landed a World Tour win thanks to Marc Soler in the Vuelta so you can say winning in their home grand tour saved the season. It’s been a transitional year for the team after the exodus of half their squad – 12 riders – including Nairo Quintana, Richard Carapaz and Mikel Landa and replaced by younger riders, the majority aren’t Spanish speakers. Forty-something Alejandro Valverde finishes the season without a win which is a first since 2011 or 2003 depending on whether you count a year when he was banned or go back to his first season as a pro. It still looks like a long term project, Ivan Garcia Cortina is a good signing but the biggest signing for 2021 is Annemiek van Vleuten and just in time for the Olympics too.
This chart shows the reliance of teams on one rider for their wins. It’s most notable at Groupama-FDJ and Lotto-Soudal where house sprinters Démare and Ewan while the high percentages on the right more reflect the low level of wins all round. Deceuninck-Quickstep win a lot and a lot of them win, 15 of the squad’s riders took a win.
This chart shows the distribution of podium places with gold for the win, silver for second and bronze for third. Jumbo-Visma beat the odds, they win rather than place while Sunweb had a good year but it could have been better as they were often so close to more wins.
- Methodology: wins are in *.1 races and above and when the rider is wearing riding for their team, eg Julian Alahilippe’s Worlds win is counted as a triumph for Deceuninck-QuickStep. Put simply wins count for a team when a rider is wearing their jersey. Ancillary prizes like points competitions, mountains jerseys don’t count.
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Sunweb are a strange team. At their best they seem to have a focused happy group of riders pulling off a surprising numbers of wins such as at this year’s Tour (they did the same a few years back when Warren Barguil won the polka dots). However all is not as it seems, there appears to be an undercurrent of discontent, typified by the mystifying video they put out telling their side of the story of the last few days of the Giro. Yes they got two riders on the podium, which should have been a big achievement but why did it seem like a slow motion car crash? The number of leading riders who have left suggest management issues, how long will the likes of Jai Hindley and Marc Hirschi stay?
Agree. They seem to have lots of young, promising riders – but seem to lose more experienced ones. Stories of ‘control freak’ or ‘micro-management’ – which is possibly okay for younger riders to put up with, but once you reach a certain level, it’s a right ‘turn off’ and loses it’s benefits.
Exactly – or when Sunweb was Skil-Shimano and Marcel Kittel blasted onto the scene. I think they are amazing while riders are relatively cheap and cannot pay huge salaries. Then when riders realise they are undervaluing themselves they get resentful and want to leave – it’s sort of a natural cycle!
But yeah, Sunweb management seems to be great at spotting and developing talent!
It may not be management issues – rather they might not have the deepest pockets, so obviously when riders get success they leave for bigger salaries.
One thing I’ve heard come up a couple of times about Sunweb is that they have a very strict focus on team effort and team wins. And in those conditions it can be hard to be a team leader. They don’t really seem to build a team around a couple of star riders; there is not a lot of room for the individual rider and the best riders might want that support structure around them to win big. Some incidents come to mind like Barguil at the Vuelta, Matthews at the Tour as a backup, etc.
The thing is though, it seems to me like a valid choice for a team strategy, just a bit different from most teams. What is not really ideal though, is that it sometimes creates unhealthy friction which must also effect the other riders and the team as a whole.
In all that there are a lot of riders with potential and no contract yet. If NTT at WT or PCT find some very late funding a modest budget astutely used could attract considerable potential. A small budget might not be the same handicap and in some previous years. We all must have our favourites from the unsigned riders out there – certainly enough to achieve better value for money than a 2020 Cofidis, or maybe a 2021 ISN.
Cyclingnews are saying Assos (currently the associated clothing sponsor) will step in with more dosh to help keep the team afloat at WT level for 2 more years.
Totally agree – there are a handful of strong veteran riders who don’t have a seat right now and may be very willing to settle on a relative bargain in order to prolong their careers!
Would be really great to keep the depth up.
Many young riders too who have never really had the chance to prove themselves. One of dozens for me is James Shaw. He may never win a WT race but appears hard working and reliable. Every team needs that.
There are a lot of riders out there without a contract being offered the UCI minimum wage on the premise that if they stay in the sport the can get to a better contract next year. This can work for both rider and team but will mean some very good riders are underpaid next year while some who had the luck to sign a two year deal in mid-2019 go into 2021 on several times what others are getting. Either way it’s a big downward pressure on wages which have gone up and up beyond inflation over the past decade, things should cool for two thirds of the peloton now.
It could have been much worse…
Unfortunately even strong industries are having downward salary pressure this year, and many sports are losing many many salaried positions and facing significant wage decreases… so, the outcome for cycling to have a few teams saved at the last minute and even at wage decreases is a very positive outcome… it could have been much worse.
When Mads Pederson won the WC, I thought he was a bit lucky that MvdP hit the wall and Trentin had nothing left. After this year I think Mads would have won anyway. Did anyone else know he was one of the world’s top sprinters before this year?
As a Dane I might be biased, but I think I am just well informed 🙂
The worlds was not a surprise to me last year, as I had seen him in Flanders the year before. Standing on the Paterberg I saw him go by the first time with the big group in his heels and I thought, oh cool he made it far into the final. Then he went by the last time and the gap was the same – Everyone dropped their jaw. I think everyone that day saw a tough rider with a huge potential. And in the worlds 2019 we saw probably one of the hardest races of the season, which you just can’t win by accident. Rather the contrary.
But yeah, the sprints were a surprise to me. I knew he was really fast, and he would win an obscene amount of races as a junior, but I didn’t think it was Bunch-sprint fast. So that was a surprise as well as how well he was climbing late in the Tour.
I also saw his second in Flanders. I thought he was a bit lucky then as well. As in “fortune favors the bold”. I don’t think he’s likely to ever win Flanders, but seeing him and WVA and MvdP at Roubaix is probably what I’m looking forward to most for next season.
If he was lucky to be 2nd in Flanders, then I see a lot of luck in his future as well 🙂
Just kidding, yeah perhaps the 2nd place was lucky in the sense that nobody at the time knew what a big motor he has, because what he did that day was all because of a huge effort. In the future he will be marked as a big Koepman. But I am willing to bet that he will be up there in Flanders the next 10 years. And in my eyes, if Kristoff can win it then Mads P can as well. Perhaps in a year where guys like MvdP and WVA are not in top form. OR: A year with terrible weather! The guy seems to be welcoming rain as his lucky talisman
It can be hard to tell. There’s probably an element of ‘going under the radar’, with riders not marking less fancied riders because they don’t see them as a strong threat. He’s obviously got talent, and deserves his victories. They were hard fought. But if you get a podium at Flanders and the WC, expect to be marked going forward.
I feel at the moment that his trajectory will follow that of Stuyven, his team mate. A good strong rider, capable of winning a classic, but perhaps not a favourite, and because he’s in a less strong team he’ll find it harder to get wins than if he rode for DQS. Though perhaps now they have each other they can mark the moves better and help each other win.
I can definitely see Pedersen winning big classics in the next few years, even with WVA and MvdP in the peloton. You still had Devolder, Nuyens and Vansummeren winning stuff in peak Boonen/Cancellara time. Especially if it’s ever cold for the classics ever again, they always seem to be in glorious sunshine now. Pedersen could win Milan-Sanremo too if it came back to a sprint or was wet and attritional.
Very good point! Pedersen is a solid solid rider and will definitely have his chances to win over the years. Lots can happen in a bike race and the absolute top talent definitely doesn’t win each time.
Honestly, it’s a very exciting time for cycling and you definitely feel that the top of the sport is turning over – almost 100% right now.
I find it interesting that Quick Step continue to top this list whilst year after year losing top riders. With Jungels going they look a bit over reliant on Alaphilippe to me, to win the big races at least. They can still swamp the end of a cobbled classic with riders but don’t have The Man, I.e. Van Aert or Van der Poel. Ineos are similar. They probably have 5 riders who could win a GT but not the outstanding favourite. Alaphilippe has said recently that the race he wants to win above all others is the Tour. Maybe him leaving QS to a more GT focused team would free up a bit of room in Lefevre’s seemingly increasing tight budget for one of the Vans.
QuickStep seems to me the most tactically fundamental team out there, so their dominance over the last years is rightly deserved.
Both Vans are really happy where they are, with absolute leadership and sufficient amount of support. Can’t see them move.
This article seems to show up what an odd team Movistar have been over the last few years. Even when they had Quintana at his peak and signed Landa you had the impression it was Valverde’s team. Similar in how FDJ are all in for Demare/Pinot Movistar’s management at least seemed to be all in for Valverde even well in to his late 30’s. Even as recently as the Vuelta he seemed to have a free role without ever having to work for Mas. It was fine while he was still hoovering up one week stage races and Ardennes classics by the bucket load but you’d thing they should’ve been at least planning for the day when age finally caught up with him.
It’s a bit hard to judge Valverde on the basis of this season, though I wouldn’t argue that he’s not in decline. Like many riders this season COVID-19 lockdowns have had a serious effect on training so it’s hard to judge just how much he has dropped. Though, obviously he’s just one person in the team and many of the riders seem to have dropped off the pace.
RQS – exactly! Each region treated lockdowns differently so it all depends where the athlete was living at the time of the initial lockdown.
All results this year need to be taken with a certain degree of, not skepticism, but they can’t really be used to predict next year. I mean, look at Egan Bernal’s build up to the Tour – ridiculous. Completely overtrained himself trying to catchup from Columbia’s full lockdown.
That’s just one example, but there are dozens where some countries had huge disruptions to training, and other countries trained as if there was no issue.