Androni Giocattoli – Venezuela
UCI Ranking: 4 (ProCont)
Major Results: Giro d’Italia stages x 2 (Ferrari, Rubiano), Memorial Marco Pantani (Felline), Italian national champs (Pellizotti), Tour de Langwaki (Serpa Perez)
Report card: The team with the patchwork quilt of a team kit thanks to the insistence on using lots of small sponsors had a good year, with their primary objective, the Giro, proving fruitful with two stage wins in the hills and on the flat. Sure, Roberto Ferrari would have been thrown off the race had he not been Italian (well, probably) for causing a ridiculous crash, but he won a few days later anyway. Elsewhere, the Venezuelans (whom are now state paid effectively given Venezuela funds the team) and the Colombians reeled off the tours of Langwaki and Venezuela to give them pretty much the best results they could help for for a team this size.
Head Boy: Aside from his little side swipe on Mark Cavendish, Roberto Ferrari won the team a Giro stage as well as 3 other victories.
Class dunce: Jose Rujano has been dining off his 3rd place in the 2005 Giro for some time now, and still more managers are willing to be they can help him rediscover that form. For another year, he didn’t.
Scandalometer: Quite how Ferrari wasn’t kicked off for his ridiculous move in the Giro that knocked off Cavendish is beyond me, especially when you see that particularly anal UCI commissionaire disqualifying people from the Olympics for deviating from a barely-there painted line. Sadly, no one used the headline ‘Cavendish taken out by a Ferrari’ in the papers the next day.
Acqua & Sapone
UCI Ranking: 3 (ProCont)
Major Results: Tour of Austria stages x2 (Taborre, Di Luca), Tour de Wallonie stages x 3 (Napolitano)
Report card: The team of Garzelli, Di Luca, Napolitano, Betancur et all was supposed to go and rip up the Giro, given they’d come up with a brilliant new white kit to replace the red one they’d had for so long (but neatly accented with Red helmets), but despite having two former winners in Garzelli and Di Luca, as well as the defending King of the Mountains (again Garzelli), it was NetApp who got the final spot, seemingly for marketing reasons, which as very un-italian. To their credit, the team plugged away at the rest of they year, winning and placing well enough to place themselves 3rd in the ProConti rankings at the end of the year. Unfortunately, the threw a huff at Giro non-selection and ended the team despite some good quality wins – it looks like the teams built around securing invites to the Major Tours live and die by those invites.
Head Boy: Danilo Di Luca has never been as good as when he was CERA fuelled, but was still the teams best rider, leading the Tour of Austria for a couple of days having won on the famed Kutzbohler horn and getting 20th in Lombardy. He was even 13th in Tirreno Adriatico.
Class dunce: Given most of their claim to a Giro place was based on the credentials of Stefano Garzelli, its maybe a good job they didn’t get to ride, as Garzelli was pretty rubbish for the rest of the year, with 101st in the Tour of Austria, 27th in Tirreno, and 11th in Vuelta Burgos his best results.
Scandalometer: With no Giro invites, the team will end on December 31st, and we will never see their beautiful kit again…
UCI Ranking: 2 (ProCont)
Major Results: Vuelta a Espana stages x 5, Tour of Poland stage, Tour de Picardie and 2 stages, 4 days of Dunkirk stages x 2 (Deglenkob), Tour of Oman stages x 2, Scheldeprijs,Eneco Tour stages x 2, Ster ZLM Tour stages x 2 (Kittel)
Report card: The Dutch team built around German powerhouses Marcel Kittel and John Deglenkob started the year with Kittel as it’s key asset and with excitement over their invite to the Tour de France. Their German pair traded wins through the Spring and when the Tour arrived, they were set to take on Cavendish and Greipel, only for the team built around Kittel to fall apart when he got what by the sounds of it was intensely explosive diarrhea…Tom Veelers managed to salvage a podium place on one stage, but otherwise, it was a bit of a disaster aside from Kittel’s team presentation malarky. Sure, they’d got Argos on board as a sponsor, which was better then calling them ‘Project 1T4i’, but the results is what they wanted. Luckily, not sending Deglenkob turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as he went and destroyed the field at the Vuelta with relative ease to take five stages before almost winning Paris Tours with a single handed late jump to catch the break that was Cancellara-esque in its power. With their application for a ProTeam license in, the team now has two bankable stars and a bright future ahead, especially in the classics – Deglenkob was very close at San Remo…
Head Boy: John Deglenkob isn’t a new name after showing his strengh at Paris Tours last year with HTC, but he took things to a whole new level this year, The Vuelta was impressive, but it was the way he lost at Paris Tours that was most admirable, dropping the peloton and coming within seconds of catching the leaders.
Class dunce: It’s tricky to pick one out, as all scored well across the year, with no rider obviously performing below their talent.
Scandalometer: Marcel Kittel was briefly in trouble for using a now banned UV light blood treatment, but it wasn’t illegal at the time and was for an illness supposedly. A strong anti-doping crusader, Kittel’s statements are now always seemingly followed by a reference to ‘getting his own house in order’.
UCI Ranking: 7 (ProCont)
Major Results: Paris-Correze (Garcia),
Report card: How Cofidis must miss their older days, with World Champions in the team and success. Of course, that success was somewhat produced by unnatural means, but the current team had a bit of disaster this year. Just 6 victories was their return, and everyone has already forgotten their Tour ride, where Rein Taarame briefly looked to have broken through into the big leagues but turned out to simply be having 15 minutes of fame. David Moncoutie sadly crashed out, ending his career in the wrong way, and being a fairly good analogy for Cofidis’ season – unfulfilled.
Head Boy: Samuel Dumoulin was probably their best rider, winning one race (his first of the year) then nothing but top 10s. He’s off to AG2R next year though.
Class dunce: A few could be listed, but Remy di Gregorio is the obvious one, having being caught with doping products.
Scandalometer: Di Gregorio was pulled from the team after being caught with drugs, and the team insisted it was his personal doing.
UCI Ranking: 11 (ProCont)
Major Results: Giro d’Italia stage, Giro de Trentino (Pozzovivo), Tour of Austria stages x 2 (Modolo)
Report card: The team with great bikes achieved the best they could do, namely winning a Giro stage, and then used their young sprinter Modolo to wrap up some win volume. The wins at the Tour of Turkey, Trentino and Austria were all against World Tour opposition, which made Pozzovivo’s win at the Giro and his 8th place even better. Brambilla also showed his class throughout the year.
Head Boy: 8th at the Giro, a stage win, and numerous top 10s in the late season classics makes Domencio Pozzovivo a shoe in for the prize.
Class dunce: Again, it would be harsh to pick out anyone.
Scandalometer: Nothing to report.
UCI Ranking: 8 (ProConti)
Major Results: Tour de France stages x 3 (Voeckler x 2, Rolland), Tour de France KOM (Voeckler), Brabantse Pijl (Voeckler)
Report card: Their season is essentially defined by the Tour de France, and boy did they have a good one. Needing a way to match his 2011 heroics, and on the back foot following a lengthy injury drama that at one point looked to have ruled him out of the Tour, Voeckler somehow managed to do it, winning two stages and the King of the Mountains competition whilst team mate Rolland won to La Touisuire thanks to some excellent team work as they team time trialled across the Alps and took 8th overall. The rest of the season saw Voeckler do well in the classics, even winning one, although the team didn’t really win that much else of stature. Sebastian Turgot did get into Roubiax second before it turned out he missed three drugs tests.
Head Boy: Obviously its Thomas Voeckler, the patriarch of French Cycling, and the man we all dream had won the 2011 Tour, who’s Tour performance showed why Europcar are the best French team at the moment.
Class dunce: Remember when Anthony Charteau was KOM? It was so odd the Tour changed the rules. Charteau hasn’t looked like doing much since, although his work for Rolland’s stage win was impeccable.
Scandalometer: Sebastian Turgot has issues with his three missed drugs tests, although little has come of it.
UCI Ranking: 14 (ProConti)
Major Results: Giro d Italia stages x 2 (Rabottini, Guardini), Tour de Langwaki stages x 6 (Guardini), 2nd Tour of Flanders (Pozzato)
Report card: A technically British team given where their license is held, the team of Pozzato had much of its success due to Guardini, who beat Cavendish in a straight on drag race at the Giro, whilst Rabbotini beat Rodriguez in a thrilling finale, and most of its publicity to the drama that is Filippo Pozzato, as well as their Fluro Kit. Pozzato’s injuries dominated the spring, before he looked capable of beating Boonen when he briefly dropped him at Flanders after *shock* attacking, before falling off at Roubaix and then admitting working with Ferrari. Guardini ratttled off some more wins to end the year on a high though.
Head Boy: The new man of Italian speed, Andrea Guardini, won whenever he could, beating World Champion Cavendish and establishing himself as the possible new rival to the Manxman. Now if only he could climb as well as he can bunnyhop over stricken world champs.
Class dunce: Its perhaps unfair to pick on Fillipo Pozzato after the year he had but you still get the feeling he should have won Flanders, and certainly needs to win another monument to make his career stand out for more then fashion and excess.
Scandalometer: Pozzato (of course) received a ban for working with Ferrari.
UCI Ranking: 1 (ProCont)
Major Results: 4 Days of Dunkirk and stage (Engoulvert), Gp de Wallonie,Tour of Cataluyna stages x 2 (Simon), Tour of Romandie stage (Hivert), Etoile de Besseges and stage (Coppel)
Report card: Winners of the ProContinental Tour, Saur have probably found their niche after a couple of years getting wild cards to the Tour that were pretty abject. They win the French races they want to though, and have a good selection of Frenchmen who just arent quite at the top to choose from.
Head Boy: Julien Simon shares my name and so is obviously the best (…), but in all seriousness he did the best of the riders, with strong rides in Cataluyna as well as the Ardenne classics, where he sneaked into the top 20 at Liege and Fleche Wallone.
Class dunce: 21st in the Tour isnt bad, but Jerome Coppel used to be the next big French thing – but this looks increasingly unlikely.
Scandalometer: Nothing to report.