The Moment The Race Was Won: Paris-Tours

Dead leaves line the side of the road and Greg Van Avermaet is left staring at his front wheel puncture. In this final classic of the season Matteo Trentin wins a two-up sprint ahead of Tosh Van der Sande.

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Held to Higher Standards

Cycling’s imagery means that thoughts of spring don’t always turn to blooming flowers and warmer weather but instead generate dark images of leaden skies and muddy fields, Belgium at its most dismal. Another theme is the omnipresence of the Etixx-Quickstep team. The name has changed over the years but story remains the same, a team expected to deliver big results ahead of every other team. While some squads are delighted with a podium placing this one risk being blasted for “losing” the race should a rider come second.

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The Moment The Race Was Won: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Ian Stannard took on three riders from a rival team, cracking them one by one on the road to Gent before it was Niki Terpstra’s time to get done over in the sprint.

The locals call triumphing in a race overwinning, a term that ought to be used in English to describe Stannard’s success.

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2014 Team Victory Rankings

Mark Cavendish
The season’s over for 2014. It’s been a great one for OPQS with 62 wins, half as much again as the nearest team. Mark Cavendish has been their best rider with 11 wins and it could have been more were it not for that crash at the finish of the Tour de France’s opening stage. But OPQS’s win rate is helped by 18 of their 30 riders winning.

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Team Victory Rankings

We’re one quarter of the way through the cycling season already. 25% of the season’s racing days have been ridden. As we go into the peak classics season Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Giant-Shimano lead.

But as you’ll see below the win rate has almost no correlation to a team’s World Tour ranking, winning often doesn’t mean a team tops the rankings. Plus there’s the Pro Conti chart below.

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Managing the Talent at OPQS

A Problem Many Teams Would Like to Have
With the classics season coming up Omega Pharma-Quick Step look like the team with all the right cards to play with aces like Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra, Mark Cavendish and Zdeněk Štybar and pack of able support riders.

But there’s a problem here as the team has so many top riders it can be hard to manage them all. Do you race the big names regularly or rest them from time to time? Who gets to be team leader? With all this in mind guest writer Whit Yost, a former directeur sportif, takes a look at the options for OPQS.

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Petacchi Loophole Closed

Some sprinters are feared for their switching but Alessandro Petacchi tried a different kind of move this year when he announced his retirement only to switch to OPQS. The UCI shut the door on this and a blocked Petacchi had to wait until August to move teams.

But the attempt showed a loophole in the rules and this has now been closed for good. Not every change to the UCI rulebook is worth a mention but Petacchi’s mid-season switch was a strange story with implications for teams and recruitment so here’s a quick look.

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UCI To Close “Dangerous” Petacchi Transfer Loophole

Sprinters and lawyers have more in common than you think. They’re often well-paid and they spend their time trying to squeeze through gaps and loopholes.

In recent days we’ve had news that the Omega Pharma – Quickstep team had been looking to hire Alessandro Petacchi. The Italian would make a useful addition to the team as a leadout man for Mark Cavendish. He is fast and experienced and if he’s not the victor he once was, there’s a career for a year or two spent in the service of Cavendish.

But cycling doesn’t normally allow mid-season transfers and if some reports said OPQS mechanics had even built a Specialized for Petacchi, he’s not moved yet. Indeed it looks like a potential loophole has been closed by the UCI, fearing the precedent could set by a mid-season transfer. But what if we allowed teams to trade riders during the season and created a transfer market?

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Sunday Shorts

valkenburg limburg cycling

It was a close contest for the men and women. Look at the faces of the victorious Omega Pharma-Quickstep team as the picture says plenty although maybe the €100,000 prize pot had something to do with it (the women got a more modest €30,000).

In a brief “the moment the race was won” analysis, when BMC went up the Cauberg we saw gaps start to appear as Tejay van Garderen surged ahead and the others, notably Alessandro Ballan and Taylor Phinney, were in trouble and had to regroup. The extra effort, the briefest confusion and then the acceleration was probably worth more than three seconds, the margin of victory on the day.

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2012 Team Victory Rankings updated

Wins Team
21 Omega Pharma – Quickstep
13 Liquigas – Cannondale
13 Team Sky
8 Greenedge
7 FDJ – BigMat
7 Lotto – Belisol
6 Garmin – Barracuda
6 Movistar
5 Vacansoleil – DCM
4 Katusha
3 Rabobank
2 BMC Racing
2 Lampre – ISD
2 Radioshack – Nissan
2 Saxo Bank
1 Astana
1 Euskaltel – Euskadi
0 Ag2r – La Mondiale

I won’t be doing a running commentary every Monday but this time last week I listed the World Tour teams by win and in the space of seven days several teams without a win finally got the result they needed.

Astana’s Janez Brajkovič won a stage in the Tour of Catalonia as did Samuel Sanchez for Euskaltel-Euskadi. Cadel Evans won Stage 2 and the overall in the Critérium International. Note these three riders are just who’d you’d expect to appear once the roads head for the mountains. In addition, promising all-rounder Diego Ulissi won two stages in the Semana Coppi e Bartali. This leaves Ag2r – La Mondiale as the World Tour gooseberry.

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