2012 Year Review: ProTeams, Part Two

Lotto-Belisol

UCI Ranking: 11
Major Results: Tour de France stages x3, Tour down Under stages x3, (Greipel), 4th Tour de France (Van den Broeck), Paris-Nice stage (Meersman)

Victories: 27

Report card: Oddly, Lotto, once the bitter rivals of OPQS in the cobbled classics, seem to have neglected their home races, leaving Lars Bak to batter away at the light blue armarda. Instead, they’ve concentrated on building an effective lead out train for Andre Greipel, who polishes off the majority of their wins as a result. This should never be seen as over reliance on one man – if someone is going to win for you, you work for them. Van den Broeck was aggressive in the Tour, and chipped small blocks of time off in the Mountains before blowing it all in the TT again, and it was the younger riders who were encouraging – Gianni Meersman can climb and sprint, and men like Bart de Clerq look good for the future.

Head Boy: With Belgian rivals OPQS wrapping up the classics, it was a good job Lotto had Andre Greipel to deliver the wins, of which he contributed 19 of the teams 27.

Class dunce: Jelle Vanendert had a comparative stinker of a year after his 2011 Tour mountain master class, and was unable to help Van den Broeck much.

Scandalometer: Nothing until the end of the year, where they somehow got embroiled in the UCI Proteam selection despite having a license for next year.

Movistar

UCI Ranking: 5
Major Results: Tour de France stage, 2nd Vuelta a Espana and 2 stages (Valverde), Vuelta TTT, Giro d’Italia stages x2 (Ventoso, Amador), Tour de Suisse (Costa)

Victories: 29

Report card: Another succesful year for the team that welcomed back its talisman Valverde, and yet still managed to win plenty with other riders. The under rated Rui Costa won the Tour de Suisse, and the team won stages in all three Grand Tours, with a TTT to boot. They couldn’t defend Cobo’s Vuelta title, but second with Valverde after he took a Tour stage was pretty good going. Valverde will wonder why he was none existent in the Ardenne classics however, where the team was anonymous.

Head Boy: Poster boy Alejandro Valverde got them up and running at the Tour down Under, saved their Tour and was second at the Vuelta without ever looking like winning, and amazed fans by recapturing the form he had when he, er, wasn’t on drugs, according to him.

Class dunce: Juan Jose Cobo has problems with depression and the like, and returned to anonymity after last years Vuelta triumph after preparing specifically for it through the Tour.

Scandalometer: Valverde’s return annoyed many, and there was upset when he essentially won the Tour down Under bar an odd rule on placings, but when people are happy to have Millar back, it makes little sense.

Omega-Pharma Quick-Step

UCI Ranking: 4
Major Results: Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, Ghent-Whevelgem, E3 Prjis Vlaandrean, World Ports Classic, Paris-Brussels, Tour of Qatar and 2 stages, (Boonen), World TT, Tour of Beijing, Tour of Belgium (Martin), World TTT

Victories: 51

Report card: A stunning year made even better by their abject previous one. The team historically built for the classics ravaged them this year, with Tom Boonen breaking countless records as he won all but Het Niewsblad, and looked like he would have taken a medal at the Olympics as well had the break come back. But whilst they usually switch off after April, the OPQS boys kept going. They have a new recruitment sector on TT’s, which lets them win short stage races, and Chavanel and Tony Martin, injured earlier in the year, delivered in this aspect. Even better, they took 2/3 mens road worlds titles, with the inaugural TTT and Martin’s TT victory. The Tour was again a bit none-descript, and it will be hard a hard year to follow, but then again, they now have Cavendish as well, so who knows what riches they’ll bring home.

Head Boy: Tom Boonen had a second annus mirabilis to go with his 2005 wonder year, winning Mounments at will to become the best cobbled classics rider in history. Only the worlds and the Olympics eluded him, although given the Roubaix-Flanders double, he wont mind. Maybe its time to win Milan San-Remo next year?

Class Dunce: In a case of supreme hypocrisy, Levi Leipheimer, who had testified against Armstrong/USPS for what USADA called ‘cleaning up the sport’, somehow managed to neglect involvment in the scandal despite the OPQS riders contracts saying they have not been involved in doping. He then had the cheek to attempt to organise his suspension with manager Lefervre so that he would be able to race Paris-Nice next year. Unsurprisingly, Lefevre fired him.

Scandalometer: Leipheimer was the dark patch on their season, as seen above

Orica-GreenEdge

UCI Ranking: 6
Major Results: Tour down Under, Milan San-Remo, GP Quebec, (Gerrans), Giro d’Italia stage (Goss) Volta a Catalyuna  and 2 stages, Tour de Suisse (Albasini)

Victories: 32

Report card: The Aussies had a weird season, with a very successful opening third followed by a remainder that ticked along slowly. They managed to do in a week what the Poms (Sky) hadn’t managed in 3 years, and win their home Tour through Gerrans, before they took San Remo as well. Michael Albasini then had a great month of April, and they wrapped up a Grand Tour stage through Goss, but then it all went a bit quiet – they weren’t really there at the Tour or the Vuelta, and whilst Gerrans won them Quebec, everyone was expecting more in the Tour. But like Sky, the project is young, so in time the results will come.

Head Boy: Simon Gerrans  was probably their best thread of continuity throughout the year, winning in January and September, although Michael Albasini was arguably their best rider

Class dunce: Matt Goss had a great year last year, but managed just one win, not including TTTs, in the whole year. For the marque rider of the team, it wasn’t very good, and won’t get him above singer Matt Goss on Google any quicker.

Scandalometer: Matt White was removed from the team as the Armstrong story broke, and Gerrans annoyed people for *horror* using tactics to defeat Cancellara at San Remo, when apparently he should have pulled over and let the Swiss powerhouse win for being ‘the stronger rider.’ In a novel twist, the same people then complained about how Wiggins won the Tour through the time trials as the ‘stronger rider.’ No pleasing some I guess.

Rabobank

UCI Ranking: 8
Major Results: Tour of California and Stage (Gesink), Eneco Tour (Boom), Tour de France stage, Classica San Sebastian Tour of Romandie stages x 2 (Sanchez)

Victories: 23

Report card: For a team underfire, Rabobank arent all that bad – they don’t win much, but what they do win is pretty good – California, Eneco and a Tour stage isn’t bad. Unfortuntately, the fact the team is so hyped, with so many young GC hopes in Gesink, Mollema etc means they’re doomed to fail, with the strong but not quite there classics team similar.

Head Boy: Luis Leon Sanchez, the Spaniard, was the best rider on the Dutch team, which says alot, and he once again rescued their Tour with his near annual stage win, and he seems to have a lock on San Sebastian as well, having won it 3 times now. Rabobank should be thankful Movistar took so long to come in and forced him to move.

Class dunce: Mark Renshaw’s much published move to be a sprinter didn’t work out – he won once, less then other sprinters Matthews and Bos. It was no suprise that calls to reunite with Cavendish came out at the end of the year.

Scandalometer: Losing the sponsor was a shock, although not as big as the revelation doping was tolerated until 2007, and Carlos Barredo was investigated for this blood passport.

RadioShack-Nissan

UCI Ranking: 12
Major Results: Tour de France stage and 1 week in yellow, Strade Bianche (Cancellara), Vuelta a Espana stage (Bennati), Tour of Austria, Tour of Luxembourg, (Fuglsang)

Victories: 15

Report card: After all that early promise (Remember when we called them Radioshack-Nissan-Trek?) Radioshack weren’t as bad as was made out – they were second in Milan San-Remo, the Tour de Suisse, the Tour of Utah and Tirreno Adriatico, and then had the yellow jersey for a week, something which shouldnt be underestimated. The problem of course was that this was meant to be the team that would dominate the Tour, but thanks to the loss of both Schlecks, they managed little. The classics were ruined when Cancellara destroyed his collarbone, from which he never really recovered. People will tire of hearing it from them, but next year should really be the year for them. That they’ll still be around at all is probably their best achievement.

Head Boy: Tony Gallopin was a minor revelation, with many solid top 5 placings across sprints and climbs. A bright spot on the otherwise troubled team.

Class dunce: Andy Schleck can blame his injury from his season from June, but its probably a good thing given how badly it was going before that. He was anonymous at the classics once more, and must hope that all the bad luck and form can drive him to finally win the Tour in 2013.

Scandalometer: Many joked that the one positive thing they got from the Tour was Frank Schleck’s dope test, forgetting their week in yellow, but this was small fry compared with Bruyneel’s departure in the wake of the USADA inquiry.

Team Sky

UCI Ranking: 1
Major Results: 1st Tour de France and 2 stages, Olympics TT Gold, Paris-Nice and stage, Tour of Romandie and 2 stages, Dauphine and 1 stage (Wiggins), 2nd Tour de France and stage, (Froome), Tour de France stages x 3, Giro d’Italia stages x 3, Tour of Britain stages x 3, Kuurne Brussels Kuurne (Cavendish), GP Plouay, Tour of Norway (Boassen Hagen)

Victories: 51

Report card: The British super team made their strength tell with a dominant season, wrapping up stage races with Wiggins and (when they could be bothered to lead him out) winning sprints with Cavendish. Whilst the classics were disappointing unless they were hilly, where Nordhaug and Uran had fun, such a dominant season through Froome and Wiggins made them near irrelevant. Next year will be very hard to improve on this one, especially with Cavendish gone and Contador and Schleck back to play.

Head Boy: Bradley Wiggins won the Tour, although notably, given all the hype about winning a bunch sprint to show how good he was, he never once won a mountain stage. His victories were all based on TT’s, which is fair enough, but it would have been nice to see if he could actually drop anyone in the hills single handedly.

Class dunce: Michael Barry, who had written about being clean in 2006 in the wake of the Landis scandal, turned out to be a cheat as well. Woops.

Scandalometer: The UK media tried to turn the zero tolerance policy into some kind of horrific scandal when it was nothing of the sort, even if Sean Yates was in a catch 22 situation (taking the interview to show you are clean, then resigning looks suspicious, but then not taking it and resigning looks even worse), and questions were inevitably asked about their performances, although oddly not about Wiggin’s unnecessary penchant for continual profanity. Cavendish followed up on what Cummings mentioned last year about the team not really caring about anyone other then Wiggins.

Team SaxoBank-TinkoffBank

UCI Ranking: 15
Major Results: Vuelta a Espana and stage, Milan-Turin (Contador)

Victories: 8

Report card: The team built for one man was all about one man in the end, which shows the problem when you look at the results – just 8 wins all year. Saxobank were arguably the worst team of the year, with little in the way of podiums either, as their all for one policy suffered with Contador’s performance. The Vuelta victory glazed over their poor year, but the license committee may have seen through it despite their heavy recruitment. Aside from  Spain, Sorensen’s combativity prize for slicing his hand open was the best they could manage.

Head Boy: It has to be Alberto Contador, essentially as he’s the only man on the team allowed to win.

Class dunce: Nick Nuyens got injured and couldnt defend his title at Flanders, not that anyone else was undeserving of the dunce title.

Scandalometer: Riis may be being investigated, as self appointed Saint Tyler Hamilton insists it’s all his fault for making him dope etc.

Vacansoleil

UCI Ranking: 16
Major Results: 3rd Giro d’Italia and stage (Thomas de Gendt), Paris-Tours (Marcarto)

Victories: 17

Report card: The low number of wins belies their talent – in de Gendt, Marcarto, Hoogerland and Westra they have a punchy combination of attackers to win races. They just pick and choose the best ones. The Stelvio stage win was a highlight, as was Paris Tours, and Bjorn Leukmans was in the mix at the classics as ususal. Still tricky to see how they can do much better mind.

Head Boy: Marco Marcato won Paris Tours and  was top 10 in Ghent Whevelgem and Het Niewsblad.

Class dunce: Stijn Devolder was rubbish in the classics again.

Scandalometer: Nothing to report.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s