Team of the Year 2017

The team of the year is often a difficult honour to bestow in the sport of cycling. All of the pitfalls which make the UCI World Tour points system so unworkable also apply when considering which team is better than any other. Is a Grand Tour stage win better than a victory in a one-day race? Is winning the Green jersey better than winning a classic? It’s all subjective so there can be no right answer.

Regardless, I’ve seen a few people make the case for Team Sunweb. Their highlights were the Giro d’Italia and the Worlds Time Trial via Tom Dumoulin, while also taking the Green and Polka-Dot jerseys at the Tour de France (with stage wins along the way) through Michael Matthews and Warren Barguil. A fantastic season for Team Sunweb, no doubt.

But I’m here to make the case for Quick Step. The Belgian team didn’t only beat their rivals regularly throughout the year 2017, if we consider certain statistics, they also took their place amongst the great teams in cycling history.

Firstly, to frame their achievements within 2017 only, they won more races than any other team with 56. Their closest challengers to that particular crown were BMC with 48 followed by Team Sky with 34.

But what is more interesting is to compare their achievements with every team that ever existed, because Quick Step achieved two things which allows them to consider themselves to have had one of the greatest years ever.

16 Grand Tour Stage wins

Across the three Grand Tours – Giro, Tour, Vuelta – Quick Step won 16 stages in 2017, which places them in joint fourth on the all time list, detailed in the table below.

Stage Wins Year Team Giro Tour Vuelta
24 1977 Flandria 10 - Maertens (7), Demeyer (2), Pollentier 0 14 - Maertens (13), Pollentier
17 2003 Fassa Bartolo 8 - Petacchi (6), Gonzalez, Frigo 4 - Petacchi (4) 5 - Petacchi (5)
17 2009 Columbia HTC 6 - Cavendish (3), Boasson Hagen, Siutsou, TTT 6 - Cavendish (6) 5 - Greipel (4), Henderson
16 2004 Fassa Bartolo 9 - Petacchi (9) 3 - Cancellara, Pozzato, Gonzalez 4 - Petacchi (4)
16 2017 Quick Step 5 - Gaviria (4), Jungels 5 - Kittel (5) 6 - Trentin (4), Alaphilippe, Lampaert

They are also only the second team in cycling history after Columbia-HTC in 2009 to win at least five stages in each of the three Grand Tours in a single year. These kinds of achievements have become much more realistic for teams in recent years because before the ProTour began in 2005 it was very much the exception for a team to even take part in all three Grand Tours, rather than the rule. But actually managing to win this many stages, even in the modern era with larger squads competitive across more races is still very rare.

Podium place in all five monument classics

Not only were Quick Step dominant in the Grand Tours, but they were always present in the classics too. Only two teams had ever done this before, detailed in the table below:

Year Team Milan San Remo Tour of Flanders Paris - Roubaix Liege - Bastogne - Liege Tour of Lombardy
2006 Quick Step 1st - Pozzato 1st - Boonen 2nd - Boonen 2nd - Bettini 1st - Bettini
2011 Leopard Trek 2nd - Cancellara 3rd - Cancellara 2nd - Cancellara 2nd - F. Schleck
3rd - A. Schleck
1st - Zaugg
2017 Quick Step 3rd - Alaphilippe 1st - Gilbert
3rd - Terpstra
2nd - Stybar 2nd - Martin 2nd - Alaphilippe

As you can see above, Quick Step were already one of the two teams who had done this before and now they’ve done it again. It might seem from the years above that I got bored very quickly while researching this and just presumed. However, this is not the case, I did check every year all the way back to the very first time when all five Monument classics took place in the same year, 1913.

Eddy Merckx actually came close to doing this on his own, twice. He finished on the podium of four Monument classics in 1969 and 1975 but never managed all five.

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