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Team Victory Rankings

A retrospective on the team victory rankings for 2023 in the men’s World Tour, looking at the rankings, some extra stats and also a team-by-team report on their season.

It looks like the skyline of a big city with several teams as skyscrapers towering above the rest. The first five teams took over half the wins between them, normal given sport is a winner-takes-all domain but dominant all the same.

This chart above goes beyond the win count to show the podium placings for the teams and the share. As you can see Jumbo-Visma are also the alchemists, turning bronze and silver into golden wins. There’s a touch of selection bias here as win a mountain summit finish or a time trial and you may collect GC as well but their results go beyond this. We can see Ineos were often close but didn’t win as much as they wanted while Alpecin-Deceuninck were highly efficient, if they came to contest the win they often go it. Statistically Bahrain weren’t so victorious and both DSM and Ag2r struggled to convert runner-up places into wins.

Finally this chart shows which teams are reliant on one lead rider for their wins or not. Jumbo-Visma saw Vingegaard and Roglič tied with 15 wins and Olav Kooij on 13 so they’re not dependent on one rider to bring home the bacon, even if Vingegaard is of course their central rider. The surprise is that UAE is only 30% as Pogačar won often but the team won plenty elsewhere too. Alpecin-Deceuninck’s key man is Jasper Philipsen, he tops the rankings for pro wins this year on 19 wins. At the other end of the scale fewer wins mean data is less reliable but Astana really need home hero Alexey Lutsenko.

Jumbo-Visma (69 wins) were tied with UAE in 2023, now they are well ahead of the pack. Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič delivered the goods as expected with 15 wins each but the count was boosted by Olav Kooij and his 13 wins. Topping the tables for wins and quality with the Tour de France and the grand tour slam. Is 2023 their high water mark? They’ll miss Roglič and his win rate. Wout van Aert wasn’t as prolific but he was gifting wins at times and playing helper, next year he’ll race for himself more. All this and they had a sponsorship crisis but a reminder that backers aren’t waiting in the wings watching to see if they can win the Vuelta, these deals can take years to nuture and when Jumbo pulled the plug pre-emptively things can change fast.

  • Hit: the Tour de France win was so emphatic that it’s got rivals asking whether they should do the Giro instead for fear of losing
  • Miss: active on every front but for all the dominant rides in the spring classics, still no Monuments. Paris-Roubaix and the Ronde prove elusive
  • Surprise: Sep Kuss’s Vuelta win

UAE Emirates (57 wins) are more than just Team Pogačar even if he delivered close to a third of their wins. Adam Yates won plenty before slotting as a luxury lieutenant at the Tour de France. Juan Ayuso didn’t have the Vuelta he wanted but we ought to drop any recency bias and remember his excellent Romandie and Suisse wins.

  • Hit: Pogačar had an outrageously good season with two monuments, the Amstel, Paris-Nice, Flèche
  • Miss: in his own words Jay Vine didn’t have the season he wanted but let’s say the Vuelta as this included Vine crashing out and neither Almeida nor Ayuso shaped the race
  • Surprise: Adam Yates proved an excellent hire, winning the UAE Tour for the team, taking Romandie and proving invaluable for Pogačar in the Tour de France

Soudal-Quickstep (55 wins) used to top the these rankings every year but have been overtaken although if things had gone differently on the Nogaro motor circuit at the end of Stage 4, as in no crash, maybe Fabio Jakobsen would have racked up more wins? The optimistic spin is they’re swapping quantity for quality as they become a grand tour squad lining up behind Remco Evenepoel but this year’s roster wasn’t exactly stacked with helpers to tow the Belgian prodigy into place on the last mountain climb. He’s central to the team but they struggled to shut down summer transfer talk.

  • Hit: Remco Evenepoel and his win rate
  • Miss: maybe it’s our fault for expecting them to perform in the cobbled classics
  • Surprise: the team is an institution so who imagined their major shareholder and title sponsor trying to switch to another team leaving the Quicksteppers stranded?

Ineos (36) finish the season with the same report as last year, a season without a grand tour win but Tom Pidcock brought some entertainment along the way and they still won plenty. Arguably though it’s worse to repeat this, an off-year is ok but this is starting to look structural with many riders choosing to leave and even the new joiners being put on hold.

  • Hit: Tom Pidcock’s raid in Strade Bianche impressed
  • Miss: you can see the results not matching ambitions but it’s the recruitment, key riders left
  • Surprise: Josh Tarling’s season. We knew he was promising, he was delivering too

Alpecin-Deceuninck (35) were newly promoted to the World Tour and thrived. The team is superb in flat races but any gradient and they’re in trouble. But wins galore and prestige as well, Mathieu van der Poel is their star but they’ve diversified with Jasper Philipsen and Kaden Groves racked up plenty of wins too. The World Tour obliges them to have at least 27 riders but they could operate as a ProTeam of 20 riders and do just as well.

  • Hit: Jasper Philipsen’s Tour de France
  • Miss: they’re very much a team of flat landers
  • Surprise: Kaden Groves can deliver when Van der Poel and Philipsen are resting

Lidl-Trek (27) are a team in transformation, they changed name mid-season and have big ambitions to be one of the leading squads but 2023 was their last year as Trek-Segafredo and the corresponding roster but this delivered, they’re winning more and more these days. Eight national championships added to the win count but there was quality too. Guilio Ciccone’s polka-dot jersey at the Tour isn’t officially a win but worked out nicely after Covid forced him to drop the Giro, he rode the Dauphiné where he took the fun Bastille finish and then had a great July.

  • Hit: Mads Pedersen is a gem of a rider for them, a powerhouse but handy in selective uphill finishes
  • Miss: it’s hard to ask for a lot more. Still Quinn Simmons started the season with a win in San Juan but didn’t get the results he wanted in the spring and salvaged the season with his US champs win
  • Surprise: Mattias Skjelmose’s great season, he was tipped for the season but surpassed expectations

EF Education First-Easypost (26) are in seventh place and that’s remarkable in itself for a team that has struggled for wins in recnet years. Still only four World Tour wins but they’ll go into 2024 hoping for more from Neilson Powless, Marijn van den Berg, Ben Healy and especially Richard Carapaz. Healy’s a revelation of the season and also their most prolific winner with five wins, not bad for a rider who has said out loud he can’t sprint but still gives everyone the slip.

  • Hit: Neilson Powless’s long spring campaign
  • Miss: big signing Richard Carapaz suffered illness and crashes and their Tour de France suffered
  • Surprise: Ben Healy’s season

Bora-hansgrohe (23) are probably the season’s under-performers when measured against expectations. They ought to be up there with UAE and Ineos given the roster. Still it was a solid year with stage wins in all three grand tours but tellingly nothing in the spring classics, their best results in April where in the Basque Country and the Tour of the Alps. Now they could be the antithesis of Alpecin-Deceuninck and be made for the mountains but they had Sam Bennett, Danny van Poppel and Jordi Meeus. Signing win machine Primož Roglič should fix things but cheque-book tactics haven’t paid off.

  • Hit: Jai Hindley taking a stage of the Tour de France and the yellow jersey for a day
  • Miss: Max Schachmann’s gone missing in action
  • Surprise: Nico Denz taking two stage wins in the Giro

Intermarché-Circus-Wanty (20) are going from plucky outsiders trying longshot moves to stalwarts capable of poaching wins here and there; earlier this year they were Belgian’s leading team with more wins than Quickstep and Lotto. Rui Costa took their most wins and his exit to EF outwardly looks like a loss but could be a boon for the team as it shows signing with Intermarché for a year can be a platform to new things, it might tempt other overlooked talents in their 30s to sign up. House sprinter Gerben Thijssen popped up for some wins and Madis Mihkels is promising although both spoilt the party with their racist gestures at the Tour of Guangxi but the team were quick to deal with them.

  • Hit: Rui Costa took the most wins
  • Miss: excepting his direct rivals, everyone would have liked to see more from Biniam Girmay.
  • Surprise: Georg Zimmermann’s rise isn’t so surprising but in the moment watching him mug Mathieu Burgaudeau for a Dauphiné stage win was.

Groupama-FDJ (19) gave a lesson in winning… hearts and minds with Thibaut Pinot’s retirement season and if you were getting a little tired of the videos by the end of the year, that’s probably the point were they were starting to reach the general public which is what sponsors crave. They lost Arnaud Démare mid-season, he was going to leave anyway but things accelerated following a spat with David Gaudu but if Gaudu was in the ascendency, he didn’t get a win for the team all season. In fact their best scorer was neo-pro Romain Grégoire while captains Stefan Küng and Valentin Madouas each got a World Tour win.

  • Hit: Romain Grégoire took five wins
  • Miss: David Gaudu’s Tour de France. He said he was producing the same power numbers as last year but 2022 saw him behind Thomas who was well behind Vingegaard and Pogačar so it was always going to be hard to parlay this into a result in July, especially after a great Paris-Nice which raised expectations further
  • Surprise: Thibaut Pinot managed to retire on a high with results, UCI points for the team and saturation media coverage, very few champions get to bow out like this

Writing about Bahrain Victorious (19) wins feels awkward given the death of Gino Mäder, a tragic accident and the loss of a rider with great humanity, he said aloud he had questions about riding for the team given the regime sponsoring it which is refreshing when message discipline normally requires riders to praise every sponsor to the sky. The team “rode for Gino” and delivered some strong results all the same but there’s the sense the squad are not the force they were upon launch, Bahraini funding only goes so far and they’d like a co-sponsor which, ironically, could replace the “Victorious” but make them win more.

  • Hit: Matej Mohorič’s summer form, his Tour de France win and his post-stage interview
  • Miss: Mikel Landa… but wait a minute, a podium in the Flèche Wallonne and regular top-10s in all stage races except for the Dauphiné and Tour. It was solid rather than swashbuckling
  • Surprise: Jonathan Milan made a name for himself in the sprints

Jayco‘s (17) best rider was Simon Yates who changed his usual routine to ride the Tour Down Under and Tour de France. A stage win in Down Under was good for the team and fourth overall in Paris was the story of Yates’s season, a formidable result but just short of victory whether it was second to Adam in the opening stage, fourth overall in Paris-Nice or third in the Giro dell’Emilia. Dylan Groenewegen got the most wins among their riders but “only” six, his win rate dropped off this season with more podiums than wins. He might be concerned about the arrival of Caleb Ewan next year but teams can run two sprinters, it could arguably impact Yates and Michael Matthews more who have fewer resources on hand. No wins for Eddie Dunbar but the team management will be rubbing their hands with plans for 2024.

  • Hit: six wins for Dylan Groenewegen
  • Miss: only six wins for Dylan Groenewegen
  • Surprise: new hires Eddie Dunbar, Filippo Zana and Felix Engelhardt all shined

Movistar (16) had their first season post Valverde and it showed. Their top scorer was Oier Lazkano with three wins this season. Matteo Jorgenson won in Oman and was second in Romandie and finished as the team’s top points scorer and basically said out loud he’d ploughed a lot of his salary into training camps and performance to achieve this, the subtext being that the team didn’t supply enough for him to get the best out of himself. He’s duly off to Visma-LeaseABike. Enric Mas is steady but no wins and you think the team could dispatch him to some of the smaller Spanish stage races for an “easy” win here or there but those days are gone, the likes of Pogačar, Evenepoel, Roglič and Vingegaard use the same races for practice too and it would require Mas on peak form when it’s arguably better to go big in the summer; his Tour was ruined by that opening crash. Einer Rubio took two mountain stage wins.

  • Hit: Oier Lazkano had a great season, the 24 year old winning the Spanish title was a masterpiece ride
  • Miss: missing out on signing Carlos Rodriguez, to use a metaphor the ink didn’t dry on the contract
  • Surprise: Matteo Jorgenson went up a gear

Mark Cavendish got plenty of headlines for Astana (16) but it was Alexey Lutsenko who delivered the wins, nine in all. This made Astana the only team where one rider delivered half or more of their wins. 2022 was such a poor season for them – five wins, of which two were the obligatory Kazakh championships – that 2023 was an improvement but Cavendish took their only World Tour level win

  • Hit: Mark Cavendish’s Rome stage win in the Giro, it gave them a big win and his postponed Tour retirement is making people look again at the team
  • Miss: just one World Tour win
  • Surprise: not much to write home about but hiring ex-triathlete Javier Romo is one of those alternative signings that paid off

You probably remember the stat that Cofidis (14) hadn’t won a stage of the Tour de France since 2008. Victor Lafay ended the drought and then Ion Izagirre put an end to the nine day dry spell with a second stage win. Bryan Coquard also got his first World Tour win in the Tour Down Under and Jesus Herrada took a Vuelta stage win. So far so good but you’re only reading this having got past 14 other teams and so while they won big, they didn’t win too often.

  • Hit: Victor Lafay’s win on the opening weekend of the Tour de France, box office stuff
  • Miss: maybe harsh, but Axel Zingle only had one win out of 23 top-10s
  • Surprise: after a long drought of Tour de France success they took two stage wins and with style

Here’s a question for you: what’s the purpose of Team DSM-Firmenich (11)? It’s not posed with sarcasm or cynicism, more that this team has operated in a slightly different way to others, a big emphasis on bringing on young riders who are mentored by a handful of seniors and internally there’s a huge importance given to process and protocol. But it’s a sports team not a management consultancy project and if the wins haven’t flowed but this is probably down to budget. They’ve not had star riders but they have still been a fixture and now get increased funding from Firmenich and the coup of landing Dutch co-sponsor PostNL for 2024.

  • Hit: Andreas Leknessund’s Giro
  • Miss: nothing went wrong, no signing was disastrous, their problem is nobody expected big results and they’ve remedied this by signing Fabio Jakobsen for 2024
  • Surprise: their youngest rider Max Poole was a revelation this season

Arkéa-Samsic (10) are the only World Tour team without a World Tour win but just pip French rivals to avoid last place. They battled hard throughout 2022 get into the World Tour for this season but don’t have much to write home about. Injuries plagued them, David Dekker crashing out of the Giro, Kévin Vauquelin’s knee and so on. But if you have a blog that does race previews you don’t pick from among their roster… at least until August when they signed Arnaud Démare and he delivered two wins. For the modest budget, a chunk of which goes in payroll taxes, they’re alright but need something to show in the Tour de France.

  • Hit: hiring Arnaud Démare mid-season suited everyone
  • Miss: Kévin Vauquelin should be a rising star but his knee’s caused problems; Clément Champoussin was even more discreet
  • Surprise: Luca Mozzato was one of B&B’s best riders and the team did well to pick him up

Ag2r Citroën (9) are last. Auto maker Citroën came on board and their injection of funding helped fund the recruitment of classy but ageing riders like Greg Van Avermaet which didn’t bring up the win rate. Their headline budget is high and even if a chunk of this goes out in payroll taxes rather than talent they’re been underperforming, and it’s something they’ve said aloud too. But if team management sit back and think of 2023 over a glass of mondeuse then a smile is bound to appear with Felix Gall’s Tour stage win, the big triumph they craved. Hiring Ben O’Connor and Felix Gall looked like a strong of genius but surely nobody imagined they’d get this good, but the team can be proud they’ve enabled them to reach these heights. All change for 2024 with Decathlon on board with more funding but it’s much more than a sponsorship deal, the team has a vertical pipeline with a junior team and an U23 team.

  • Hit: Felix Gall’s Tour de France stage win
  • Miss: tricky second album problems for Ben O’Connor and Benoît Cosnefroy who struggled to beat their excellent 2022 seasons
  • Surprise: Dorian Godon’s a beast but brute force doesn’t equate to wins, but he parlayed this into two victories

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • DJW Tuesday, 28 November 2023, 1:39 pm

    IR makes a good point on Groupama-FDJ winning hearts and minds. Pinot, the ex-Conti team neo-pros, Madiot’s proud Frenchness together with many plucky second places (Madouas in Strade Bianche, Askey in Paris-Tours…) give the team a strong identity and appeal some others with bigger budgets must envy.

    And thanks IR for helping us through the dark, cold and cycling-free winter with these wise reviews.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 28 November 2023, 3:00 pm

      Possibly a difficult season awaits them next year. No more Pinot, Penhoët won the Coupe de France this year but could do with more wins before a regular diet of bigger World Tour races, similarly everyone will want a piece of Grégoire but no rush. Walls could be an interesting signing.

      • DJW Tuesday, 28 November 2023, 5:36 pm

        You are right. Groupama-FDJ’s 2024 season depends on the young guard (Grégoire, Penhoët, Martinez, Pithie, Askey…) maintaining or improving on their 2023 performances. That’s possible but far from certain as is the gamble on Walls delivering sprint wins. At least without Pinot and Démare the budget should be available to secure Grégoire’s future services.

  • gabriele Tuesday, 28 November 2023, 2:18 pm

    Alpecin’s hit being Philipsen’s TDF? Seriously?

    Commercial value and all, but if it’s just for that also remember that sprint victories aren’t as media worth as… pretty much everything else. Imagine if you compare them to Roubaix (or that Poggio attack). What’s going to make the wallpapers, any of MdvP’s big wins or one of those bunch sprints? Plus, always speaking commercial, the Worlds are of course raced in national not trade team colours, but the photo opportunities from then on have your sponsor on that rainbow jersey. No match for the green jersey.

    I’m talking the commercial angle because in sporting terms it would simply make no sense.

    Besides, both in sporting and commercial terms it was pretty much obvious to eveyone that Philipsen, although in great form, was receiving an impressive hand by MvdP, and against the poorest of competition! He also spoilt his impressive athletic show with mediocre (not to say pathetic) behaviour in the later part of the TDF itself.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 28 November 2023, 2:56 pm

      Philipsen surpassed expectations. Van der Poel had a superb season which everyone knows and expected, plus Glasgow win was for the Netherlands as you say and in this blog post about win rankings, Philipsen finished the season with the most wins. And yet it’s the way the team manages this that’s the clever part, Van der Poel even working for Philipsen in the Tour, when on other teams things might start getting fractious.

      • gabriele Tuesday, 28 November 2023, 4:54 pm

        It’s indeed a tribute to MvdP that Sanremo-Roubaix-Worlds gets labelled as something which just met expectations!

        And, yes, Philipsen’s season was impressive in quantitative terms, and not only that (probably I was impressed much more by his Roubaix than by his TDF victories against such a poor field – *losing* stage 18 and 21 didn’t help either).
        Yet, if you choose the merely quantitative edge, why highlighting the TDF? After all, he got “only” 4/19 wins there, whereas he made his tally exceptional thanks to .1 races à la De Lie 2022. Generally speaking, a better mix of quality and quantity was achieved by Philipsen on the cobbles, if anything.

        Besides, it looks like that for most other teams the Hit / Miss / Surprise section isn’t that much anymore about counting victories as the rest of the post is.

        Of course, I assume that it’s your personal take on the subject, just as I am assuming that the comments section is here to have some discussion on it 😉

        By the way, Pidcock is surely no “quantitative” winner at Ineos, whereas Ganna is (or Narváez), just as Tarling was great as you say, but C. Rodríguez – equally already known to be good – was much more unexpected at *that* level.

  • brent Wednesday, 29 November 2023, 4:30 am

    Although of course like in any sport there is a gulf between top and bottom but compared to a number of years back it seemed to me that the lower teams are a bit more competitive. In past seasons i think some teams would take almost the entire season to get there first win.

    It felt this year that almost every team has a rider or 2 strong and capable enough that it is worth the team being in that riders service at some points of the year. Except for maybe arkea. Even astana had cav worth riding for although not for long.

    For next year i am hoping Cav is really strong through the year and that Astana new hirings perfrom a much improved lead out. I was so disappointed when he won the British champs in what felt like is best individual effort but we did not see him at the tdf (where it turned out his team could have really used him).
    The team i follow most Jayco Alula I am expecting better from next year. More money means a few extra riders and with 2 of the better sprinters you somehow expect more wins but the leadout has been lean supporting one. 2 may be even worse. But the addition of Plapp gives them something worth riding for in GC in 1 week races if they use him for GC.

    • BCA Wednesday, 29 November 2023, 7:48 am

      I remember Cav at the Tour for the first week, but crashing out.
      https://escapecollective.com/mark-cavendishs-crusade-is-over/

      • brent Wednesday, 29 November 2023, 9:25 pm

        Yes that’s correct for this year. It was last year (2022) at which he won the nationals but did not go to the tdf.

    • CA Thursday, 30 November 2023, 5:04 am

      Very good point – and I agree, in 2023, it felt that obviously there were some teams at the top, BUT, it wasn’t domination. Plus, you had a team like Ineos that clearly wanted to regain their top spot (and paid some free agents to achieve that goal), but they fell a bit flat.

      Overall, the spread of wins and top placings seemed to show a strong mix of riders. This comment appears to ignore the fact that, for example, Jumbo won all three GT’s, a handful of other stage and one-day races and on paper looked dominant. But, in those races you see that there was often a very good fight or not the classic Lance/Sky/Contador domination-win-by-several (or ten) minutes over 2nd place. Look at the Giro – heading in Jumbo wasn’t even the favourite. The Tour was nearly identical – I (and many others) thought that Tadej was the favourite, and if he didn’t break a bone 2 months before after an EPIC Spring Classics season I’m sure he would have won.

      In the 2000’s, the top GT’s are now seen as obviously EPO dominated, with the biggest doper DESTROYING the field so it was pretty boring. But, most races were really exciting in 2023.

      Sorry for the long-winded response, but it was a great season this year, and I can’t wait for 2024.

  • Ferdi Wednesday, 29 November 2023, 9:52 pm

    Bahrain’s highlight was Pello Bilbao.

    • Tovarishch Thursday, 30 November 2023, 10:52 am

      And Miss was Fred Wright after his 2022 season’s exploits.

      • DJW Thursday, 30 November 2023, 8:40 pm

        Which just shows how hard it is to predict performance. One might have expected a 23 year old after a strong 2022 to consolidate or improve but he slipped back. Picking riders is hard. We do it for fun but team managers spend scarce budget and are judged on their decisions.

        We should soon have IR’s riders to watch for 2024. Who will they be and how will he do?

        • CA Friday, 1 December 2023, 3:04 am

          Sorry, how did Fred Wright slip back? Virtually the same Flanders result. Similar TdF – top-50/top-100 – it’s not like he was battling for the win.

          What was different for 2023 for him? He didn’t crash into Roglic….

          • DJW Friday, 1 December 2023, 8:10 am

            Looking at PCS points and rankings:

            2022: 545 points and ranked 91st
            2023: 206 points and ranked 303rd

            Though I accept UIC points suggest differently

          • gabriele Friday, 1 December 2023, 3:04 pm

            Last year’s Vuelta was impressively good, nothing comparable from him this season. The rest was more or less the same. UCI points fail to mirror his 2022 most relevant performance because they underestimate precisely stages and placings. Plus, what any point system struggles to mirror is how notable it is to be fighting for the victory again and again and again in a single GT, through the whole race; at least when you are not a sprinter, obviously enough.

          • CA Tuesday, 5 December 2023, 3:24 am

            PCS/UCI points aren’t the only indicator of form or quality season. Perhaps after Flanders he was much more on team duties this year. Finishing around 100th in TdF indicates he was riding in support after having a solid Spring season. Both 2022 and 2023’s Ronde show he can produce a big result when needed.

            I hesitate to call this a set-back.

          • Tuesday Tuesday, 5 December 2023, 8:02 am

            At least in public comments he didn´t go into the Tour with team duties on his mind: ““I want to make a step up in riding GC and I want to aim for stages. Personally, I want to go for stages as my main priority, but still focusing on GC. Like I’ve said before, I want to try and win from the lead group or the favourites group and not from the breakaway which then keeps me on GC.” And that´s how I saw him race.

            PS He wrote (or dictated and let someone else write) a blog during the Tour. Short but not uninteresting entries: https://www.redbull.com/us-en/tom-pidcock-tour-de-france-blog

          • Paul J Tuesday, 5 December 2023, 11:40 am

            I’m confused, is this subthread about Fred Wright or about Pidcock?

          • George Tuesday, 5 December 2023, 1:04 pm

            Shurely shome mishtake…

          • Tuesday Tuesday, 5 December 2023, 2:59 pm

            One of my better brain farts, certainly 🙂 Don´t know what happened, but I could seek an explanation in the fact that as I read CA´s comment I was simultaneously discussing (on a message app) Pidcock´s return to cyclocross with my riding buddies…

            Apologies to all – but a return to Pidcock´s Tour cannot have hurt anyone. And I´m gracious enough to let you have a laugh at my expense!

  • plurien Saturday, 2 December 2023, 11:58 am

    AG2R already making some really good headline signings to gather points. De Bondt, Armirail, Sam Bennett and Victor Lafay joining.

    In other news – ie; cyclocross – Yannick Prévost the agent for Toon Aerts and Shari Bossuyt has warned his other riders not to have any milk products while in the Flamanville area for this weekend’s UCI World Cup. These two riders were banned in consecutive years on visits to Normandy for this round, after testing positive for the metabolite létrozole which can be present in cow’s milk.
    So of course this has kicked off with the farmers and their cooperatives in the region. Maybe Sunday’s course will be soaked in milk products instead of the usual water.
    Original story came from Sporza and amplified by Ouest France which does at least admit its use in farming to synchronise the natural cycle of ovulation in cows.

  • Larry T Saturday, 2 December 2023, 2:03 pm

    “Ouest France which does at least admit its use in farming to synchronise the natural cycle of ovulation in cows.” First it was the steak with Il Pistolero, now it’s the milk? JFC!!!!

    • gabriele Saturday, 2 December 2023, 3:12 pm

      The best part of it all is perhaps what becomes known regarding the use of pharmacology in stockbreeding, and the loopholes in control both over unhealthy practices and importation.

      “Doping” is so intrinsic in the Western way of life that the merry-go-round of molecules wouldn’t actually be (and isn’t) any surprise, although I suspect that it’s not the case for the above mentioned athletes. Yet, it’s more plausible (and was established as such in other cases, for clenbuterol at least) than we’d like to believe or acknowledge. And not ’cause the teams aren’t doping their athletes, rather ’cause we’re all receiving our “cure” , be it with hormones like rBGH (-> IGF-1) in the USA or a range of endocrine disruptors, be it directly or through cattle, water etc.

      • Larry T Saturday, 2 December 2023, 4:41 pm

        And don’t forget the antibiotic abuse, something cycling was (is) known for as well. How many times have we heard a racer say “I’ve just completed a round of antibiotics…” as he returns to competition when an actual infection (rather than virus, etc.) might not have been the real problem?
        OTOH it makes me wonder if someone decides that since things like these are in circulation at some level, why not dose-up with some more if it’ll give you an edge…and if you get caught you can use the “steak” or “milk” defense to escape sanction?

        • gabriele Saturday, 2 December 2023, 7:05 pm

          Agreed on both points.

        • DaveRides Monday, 4 December 2023, 1:10 am

          I’m confident that overuse of antibiotics should be well in the past at the top level of any international sport, given that sports scientists have been aware for years that taking antibiotics has a negative effect on performance at the time of taking them.

          If anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if team doctors are pushing riders too far the other way – telling riders to try other options when they do have bacterial infections which could be quickly knocked on the head by a short course of antibiotics.

          The big issue with the cow medicine is that Toon Aerts is continuing to protest his innocence despite taking a 50% discount on his doping ban for promptly admitting guilt and cooperating. The continuing protests should result in the early guilty plea being struck out and a full hearing set with a full 4 year ban on the line, plus an additional sanction for his contempt of the process.

          • Monday Monday, 4 December 2023, 7:53 am

            “For promptly admitting guilt and cooperating”?! My understanding (based on what I´ve read) is that the reason Aerts got away with two years was simply and plainly that the UCI accepted it was a case of non-intentional use and therefore the sentence was reduced. Normal practice.

            Aerts chose not to appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but I don´t see how that could be construed as admitting his guilt. He has been adamant about being innocent.

            PS My memory was never what I now sometimes believe it once was, but no cases, recent or old, cycling or other sports, where admitting guilt and co-operating resulted in a halved sentence.

          • gabriele Monday, 4 December 2023, 9:57 am

            Don’t be so confident re:cycling, because of the implications of racing through many stages in GTs, and the different roles of athletes.

            By the way, I guess Aerts et al. do actually see the process as a farce, since cycling is deep into one of its “let’s ignore doping” eras, hence the occasional athletes being caught (usually for less significant products) due to whatever accidental, local or political reason, well, just do feel they are the victims of a paradox. Although they should know way too well that “so it goes”, full stop.

          • Monday Monday, 4 December 2023, 11:50 am

            Antibiotics are supported by a veritable cocktail of supplements:

            “Various pre-clinical evidences have shown that supplementation with molecules supporting the fundamental molecular mechanisms for mitochondrial respiration (CoQ10, taurine, vitamin E, MITO-Q, calcitriol) is able to support an adequate transport of carnitine (niacin) and ensure a protective effect on muscle fiber and tendon tissue without a significant alteration of the antimicrobial capacity of antibiotics.”

            PS Many readers of literature / and certainly most readers of my age and older recognize the recurring saying from Vonnegut´s “Slaughterhouse-Five” where it is invariably a comment on or a reference to death…

  • plurien Monday, 4 December 2023, 11:52 am

    Well that took off in a direction. The angle I had on this story is how ‘brave’ to go against the French dairy farmer on home territory.

    I worry that amongst those who just accepted doping as a part of procycling can’t imagine it any other way. This leads to acceptance of all other consequences including the unfairness of it harming those who don’t cheat, whilst giving us a sport that lacks respect and integrity, as if it’s all just rigged.
    Plus we will never get to see the findings of any research into letrozole from these cases because it goes against the interests of dairy farmer and procycling businesses alike.

  • Larry T Monday, 4 December 2023, 3:07 pm

    Vonnegut´s “Slaughterhouse-Five” I LOVED all of his work, thanks for the reminder!!!
    As to Gabri’s “since cycling is deep into one of its “let’s ignore doping” eras” I was wondering the same thing not too long ago, guess I’m not the only one.
    On another subject, am I the only one outraged at BigTex’ latest..well…brain-fart? The comments (now that Kaiser Jan has admitted doping) that put him in the same category as Der Kaiser and Il Pirata? The “But Mommy, the others did it too” is annoying enough, but to put himself on the same level as two athletes who demonstrated amazing ability BEFORE they were involved in any use of illicit substances, while this punk was supposedly on-the-juice as a teenage tri-jock really frosts me.

    • RV Tuesday, 5 December 2023, 4:14 am

      I’ve never understood why ALL of Armstrong’s results were not struck. By his own admission he was already juicing by the time he won in Oslo. It didn’t start with US Postal, it was well before that.