Who are the sponsor? Trek are a bicycle making company.
Nationality: United States.
2013 Ranking: 4th
Past Stars: Daniele Bennati, Oliver Zaugg, Linus Gerdemann, Jakob Fuglsang, Andreas Kloden, Jan Bakelandts, Chris Horner
Selected Team Palmares: 1st, Tour de France 2010, 1st, Liege-Bastonge-Liege 2009 (Andy Schleck), Stages, Tour de France, (Andy Schleck, 2010, 2011×2, Frank Schleck, 2006+2010, Yaroslav Popovych, 2008, Jens Voigt, 2001+2006, Fabian Cancellara, 2004, 2007×2, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012), 1st, Tour of Flanders 2010, 2013, 1st, Paris-Roubaix 2006, 2010, 2013, 1st, Milan San-Remo 2008, 1st, Tirreno-Adriatico 2008, 1st, Tour de Suisse 2009, 1st Olympic Time Trial 2008, World Time Trial Champion 2006-07, 09-10 (all Fabian Cancellara)
Brief Team History: Trek has a long, complicated history that has gone through several iterations. First created in 2011 as Leopard-Trek after stripping the best bits from Saxo Bank, the name was indicative of the fact they could not attract a sponsor. They had a habit of coming second a lot, with Paris Roubaix and the Tour de France the most obvious examples, which didn’t really endear them after all the hype and swagger of the formative months. At the same time, there was a concurrent Radioshack team, sponsored also by Nissan, which then at the end of 2011, if we believe the Leopard story, folded, and the sponsor transferred to the Leopard team so that they became RadioShack-Nissan-Trek. Unfortunately, no one told current car sponsor Mercedes, who were understandably a bit miffed. They then got told they could only have two sponsors names, so became just RadioShack Nissan, before Nissan too left to leave RadioShack-Leopard-Trek. Eventually RadioShack, who had now managed to have their name associated not with Armstrong but with the failure of the Schlecks, pulled the plug as well, leaving Trek to step into the breach and remove the Luxemburg identity from the team.
Last year: After a miserable 2012, 2013, despite what many have said, was a hell of a year for RadioShack. Winning the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, a stage of the Tour de France, wearing the yellow jersey, the San Sebastian Classic, three stages and the overall at the Vuelta as well as a splattering of high quality stages at the Tour de Suisse, their home Tour of Luxemberg, the Tour of California and the Tour of Austria is a stellar year by any one’s standards, yet because everyone seems so obsessed with belittling the Schlecks, it seems to have washed over everyones heads. The year started as the previous year had, with Cancellara narrowly missing out on Milan San Remo yet again, but helped by Boonen’s injuries, Cancellara then battled through to win the Flanders Roubaix double, doing the former by riding away on the Paterburg and the latter by gladiatorily battering his way through the groups, the felled OPQS riders, and finally getting around Sep Vanmarke whilst avoiding the men a lap bind in the Roubaix velodrome to notch up his 3rd success in that race. After winning five national championships, the team went to the Centenary Tour without Cancellara, and with low expectations of Andy Schleck. They got their moneys worth through Jan Bakelandts Coriscan stage win though, picking up the yellow jersey for their troubles, before Schleck went on to ride better than expected to 20th overall, not bad for someone who’d barely finished a race all year. Tony Gallopin then won an overcast San Sebastian, before the team picked up their first Grand Tour, just as the team morphed into Trek. Cancellara won the time trial inbetween Chris Horner’s two wins, and by the time everyone (including me) took him seriously, he had ridden himself into a winning position and won despite the best efforts of a tiring Nibali. Leopard had finally won a Grand Tour, but the team was still to change into Trek and leave the dreams of a nation to the pages of history.
Transfer dealings: Probably the biggest clear out of any team, Trek have arguably lost their best riders – Tony Gallopin, Maxime Monfort, Jan Bakelandts and Tiago Machado have all moved on, whilst AndreasKloden has retired. Chris Horner was offered a contract but wanted more money, so he is also gone, replaced by a host of young, essentially unknown riders. The Van Poppell brothers and Fumiyuki Beppu are probably the best known, and Kristof Vandewalle is the only other man signed from a WorldTour team to back up Cancellara. Frank Schleck is also back, though he never really left.
Who are the star riders? It used to be the Luxemburg duo of Andy Schleck and Frank Schleck, both yellow jersey winners and indeed a winner in the case of Andy, but he is still not the rider he used to be whilst Frank has just returned from a year out due to his Xipamide positive. This means the real star is Fabian Cancellara, the classics and time trial supremo, who has as many wins at Flanders as his support rider Stijn Devolder, who can either be appaling or excellent it seems. They are then essentially a lot of ‘old guard’ riders such as Jens Voigt, Yaroslav Popovych and Haimar Zubeldia, with some young talent in Italian sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo, Matthew Busche and Bob Jungels, as well as another set of Brothers in Danny and Boy Van Poppel.
Fashion Police: Now that Leopard is gone and the Luxemburg connection absent, Trek have stamped their authority on the team with an all black, pinstriped number, which whilst initially derided, has slowly grown on people with its white sleeve and sublte graphics. The national champions kits are an odd mix though, as some, like the Belgian and Luxemburg kits, are all encompassing, whilst others only get the white sleeve to emphasise their triumph. It’s another black and moody kit to pick out amongst the Sky’s and OPQS’s of the peloton however.
What are their targets? Cancellara has the chance to equal Boonen and co at Flanders and Roubaix in terms of records, and he perhaps has a triple involving Milan San Remo on his mind. He supposedly also has the Hour record in mind. Otherwise, the team will want to try and get the Schlecks to the Tour in a form that gives them a chance to win it, and develop the hordes of young riders it has brought in.
What are they likely to achieve? Cancellara will be up there as usual, and will probably win one of the classics if he’s fit, although the Hour record attempt will be the most intriguing. The Schlecks are damned whatever they do – if they turn up and win the Tour, they’ll be accused of doping and the usual cynicism directed at them, whilst if they don’t, they’ll be belittled for not training hard enough and for being ‘weak.’ It’s essential they turn up the Ardenne classics in some form though, as just peaking for the Tour is no longer good enough on a team like this. The team will probably pick up some unexpected wins through it’s lesser known talents however, such as Bob Jungels.
Components: Trek ride on Treks, obviously, with Madone and Domane frames, with Shimano Di2 components. Bontrager, a subsidiary of Trek, make the jerseys.
The Big Question(s): Will Cancellara repeat his 2013 glories? Is the Hour record doable? Can the Schlecks perform in a Tour made for them?