2010 Teams Review – Part 1

I picked up the March 2010 issue of Cycle Sport the other day, it was the season preview issue. In it, each of the major cycling teams, via one of the team managers, laid down three major season goals which the team would aim for over the coming year. The following is a breakdown of how each team fared in achieving their three goals:

AG2R-La Mondiale

1. Win more races than last year.
Not that hard considering the team only racked up five victories in 2009. This year they managed to almost quadruple that haul with 19 wins, the most prolific rider was Anthony Ravard who won five races.

2. Go for Tour stages and the overall.
They must be happy with their Tour performance as they won a stage through Christophe Riblon. Nicolas Roche finished in 15th position, the highest overall placing of any rider on any of the French teams, and in John Gadret in 19th place, they had the all-important highest French finisher at the Tour.

3. Win more races outside France, especially at Pro Tour level.
Of their 19 wins in 2010, only five of them were at races outside of France. Also, the only Pro Tour level victory was Riblon’s stage at the Tour. Compared with other years, this isn’t great. Each year from 2006-2008, the Ag2R won at least four Pro Tour races. There has also been a sizable drop in their wins column since the departure of Jan Kirsipuu who used to win sprint finishes regularly and would boost the team’s wins outside France up towards double figures. But compared to last year, everything has been an improvement.


1. Win the Tour with Alberto Contador.
Eh, sort of…..

2. Give the younger Kazakh riders a chance to improve.
If by young Kazakh riders he means 25 and under, that would include Roman Kireyev, Yevgeni Nepomnyachsniy, Bolat Raimbekov, Sergey Renev, Andrey Zeits. Of these five riders, none started the Tour but three of them did get a ride in one of the other Grand Tours. Kireyev rode and finished the Giro, no mean feat considering the toughness of the route this year. While Renev and Zeits both completed the Vuelta. The only rider of the five to manage a podium placed finish this year was Roman Kireyev who finished second in his national time trial championships.

3. Have a straightforward season.
Failed miserably. Astana are now embroiled in the biggest controversy of the season as Alberto Contador, although now signed with Bjarne Riis’s Saxo Bank, faces doping charges after testing positive for Clenbuterol. The wish for a straightforward season stems from last year, when there was an ongoing feud between team mates Armstrong and Contador in addition to reports that blood doping kits were found and linked to the team at the Tour. There were also reports that the Astana team was being given favourable treatment by the anti-doping folk at the Tour. The previous year, Astana had been banned from partaking in the Tour altogether after the team had been involved in even more doping controversy at the 2007 Tour. It has not been a good few years for Astana in terms of ‘having a straightforward season’ and with their Tour winner testing positive, this year has probably been the worst.

BMC Racing

1. A good Classics result, centred around George Hincapie.
Hincapie managed a couple of good classics results by finishing 4th in Gent-Wevelgem and 6th in the Tour of Flanders. But BMC’s best result in the spring classics was the World Champion Cadel Evans’s win in the Fléche Wallonne. Evans had finished 9th, 5th and 2nd in this race before finally winning it this year with a perfectly timed, borne-of-experience sprint for the line. He also finished 4th in Liége-Bastogne-Liége.

2. A good Grand Tour result, centred around Cadel Evans.
Winning a stage, the points competition and finishing 4th at the Giro while also managing a day in the yellow jersey at the Tour, on paper, is a good Grand Tour result by any standard. However, Jim Ochowicz probably had an overall victory or a podium place in mind when setting this goal for the year. Evans was thoroughly unfortunate at the Tour to fall and break a bone, otherwise he may well have challenged Menchov for the third place finish.

3. A strong end of season at the Worlds.
This seems an odd goal considering the riders aren’t technically riding for BMC at the Worlds. Nevertheless, defending champion Cadel Evans put in a more than worthy defense of his title, but ultimately only managed 17th place. Evans was BMC’s only finisher in the top 40, although Alexander Kristoff was a team mate of eventual winner Thor Hushovd.

Bbox Bouyges Telecom

1. Win Tour stages with Fedrigo and Voeckler.
Done and done. Fedrigo and Voeckler won back to back stages in the Pyreneés. Even better, Voeckler did so while wearing the French champion’s jersey, even though he managed to morph the jersey into some kind of belly top as he crossed the finish line. Anthony Charteau also pulled off a surprise win in the King of the Mountains competition. Overall a hugely successful Tour for Bbox.

2. Win stages at the Dauphiné and Paris-Nice.
In the words of Ned Boulting of Real Peloton fame, another big box ticked for Bbox. William Bonnet won stage 2 of Paris-Nice into Limoges and Nicolas Vogondy won the 4th stage of the Dauphiné. Vogondy also finished 6th overall at the Dauphiné while Pierre Rolland finished 8th.

3. Win a stage at the Giro and Vuelta.
The Giro stage was nabbed by the Swiss rider Johan Tschopp who won the final road stage of the race. It was also the stage where Tschopp, at the top of the Passo di Gavia, nipped past Gilberto Simoni to deny the Italian the Cima Coppi prize in his last ever road race, but hey, that’s bike racing. It was only in Bbox’s final goal of the season, a stage win at the Vuelta, that they fell short. The closest they came was again through Tschopp who finished 3rd on Stage 8 behind David Moncoutié. I doubt Jean-Réné Bernaudeau is too bothered with the Vuelta stage though, after the fantastic season they had before the Spanish Grand Tour.

Perhaps the greatest success for Bbox in 2010 has been the confirmation of a new sponsor for 2011. Although Fedrigo has moved on to join FDJ for next season, the ever loyal Thomas Voeckler will remain to try and ensure more Tour success for Bernaudeau’s team.

Caisse d’Epargne

1. A sponsor for 2011!
Success! Mobile phone company Movistar will sponsor the team next year.

2. Keep up the same level of previous years across the board.
A rather vague season goal. See below.

3. Depending on what happens in his two cases with CAS, go all out in the Tour with Alejandro Valverde.
Well, obviously this didn’t happen. Valverde’s appeal against his worldwide ban was rejected in May and he is now suspended until the end of next year. All his results before May 2010  dating back to January 2010 have been expunged. This left the Caisse d’Epargne with 12 victories for the year, the highlights of which were two stage wins at the Vuelta through David Lopez and Imanol Erviti and Luis Leon Sanchez winning the Clasica de San Sebastian. David Arroyo also managed an impressive 2nd place finish at the Giro d’Italia. For a team as big as Caisse d’Epargne, 12 victories isn’t great. For each of the previous four years, the team had managed at least twice that many wins (thanks in no small part to Alejandro Valverde). Valverde’s suspension in addition to seeing Joaquim Rodriguez blossom into the World’s number one ranked rider at Katusha has been hard to take for the Spanish team.

Cervélo Test Team

1. Win one from: Milan San Remo, Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix.
They won zero out of three, thanks largely to Fabian Cancellara’s insane performances over the cobbled classics. Heinrich Haussler finished as runner up in Het Niuewsblad before a knee injury wiped out the rest of his classics campaign. Thor Hushovd won a Tour stage, a Vuelta stage, finished 6th in Milan San Remo, 2nd to Cancellara at Paris-Roubaix and of course won the World Road Race at the end of the season whilst riding for Norway. Roger Hammond also managed a 4th place in Paris-Roubaix.

2. Giro d’Italia win with Carlos Sastre.
Aiming to win two Grand Tours with any rider is a tall order, even more so with a rider who is 35 years old. This is three years older than the oldest rider to ever win two Grand Tours in one year (Fausto Coppi, 32, Giro and Tour 1952). Even so, Sastre managed to finish in the top 20 of all three Grand Tours this year. He finished 8th in the Giro, 20th in the Tour and 8th in the Vuelta, but he didn’t win a stage in any. In fact, he didn’t win a race all year, the closest he came, unusually for him, was in a one day race when he finished 3rd in the Clasica de San Sebastian.

3. Tour de France win with Carlos Sastre.
He made a valiant run for glory on the Tourmalet stage where he spent most of the day on his tobler in no man’s land between the peloton and the breakaway, but ultimately was caught before the foot of the final climb. He never really threatened the overall, and as the years keep passing by, he seems to be fading more and more as a genuine Grand Tour threat.
Apart from the team’s stated goals, they won stages at Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya, Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse through Xavier Tondo, Theo Bos, Brett Lancaster and Thor Hushovd. Altogether, they totalled 14 victories, considerably less than their 2009 tally of 25. Mid season injuries to both Hushovd and Haussler didn’t help.


1. A Tour de France stage win.
The Tour was a disaster for Cofidis. They were the only one of four French teams who didn’t win a stage. In fact, they only managed one measly top ten stage place in the whole Tour when Remi Pauriol finished 8th on Stage 10. They’re highest ranked rider on G.C. was Julien El Fares in a lowly 28th place. Not good.

2. Dauphiné with Pauriol and Moncoutié.
It’s not explicitly stated, but I presume Eric Boyer was referring to stage wins and not the overall. Either way the Dauphiné did not work out well for Cofidis. Their top G.C. finisher was again Julien El Fares, this time in 26th. Pauriol finished 30th and Moncoutié didn’t take part. The closest they came to winning a stage was Rein Taaramae’s 5th place on Stage 4. Again, not good.

3. Paris-Nice with Pauriol.
Remi Pauriol didn’t win a stage of Paris-Nice, but fortunately for Cofidis Amael Moinard did. He also won the mountains classification. Taarame also managed 7th on G.C.

Apart from the lack of success in the major races, Cofidis did rack up plenty of early season victories. Samuel Dumoulin won a stage and the overall of the Étoile de Bességes, a stage at both the Volta a Catalunya and the Circuit de la Sarthe as well as the GP dell’Insubria. Julien El Fares won a stage at the Tour de Med. Jens Keukeleire won Le Samyn, Nokere Koerse and a stage and the overall at the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen. Finally, Leonardo Duque won the GP Cholet-Pays de Loire. So although they didn’t perform in the big races, they still took 23 victories, their most since 2007.


1. The races in the Basque Country.
The team again failed to win the overall prize at the Tour of the Basque Country, a race they have now not won since Iban Mayo won it for them in 2003. It wasn’t all bad though, Benat Intxausti finished 2nd (after Valverde’s result was wiped) and Samuel Sanchez won a stage and the points competition. Sanchez also won the Klasika Primavera one day race, a race Euskaltel hadn’t won for 10 years. The only other notable results in Basque races were Gorka Izagirre’s win in the Prueba Villafranca de Ordizia and Sanchez’s 9th place at the Clasica de San Sebastian.

2. Stages in the Tour de France.
They didn’t win a stage but Samuel Sanchez did very well, almost taking a podium spot only to be beaten to it by Denis Menchov in the final time trial. Sanchez came closest to winning a stage on the climb to Morzine-Avoriaz when he finished just behind Andy Schleck.

3. Stages in the Tour of Spain and, if Samuel Sanchez is up for it, to go for the overall as well.
As it turned out, Samuel Sanchez wasn’t up for it, but Igor Anton was. Anton won two stages of the Vuelta and by doing so, spent five days in the leader’s red jersey. On Stage 14 however, Anton’s luck turned as he crashed and was forced to retire while leading the race. It’s hard to tell how he would have finished the race, and how much time he would lose in the final time trial, but a podium place was certainly within his grasp. Very unfortunate.
Mikel Nieve also won a stage at the Vuelta. In total, Euskaltel won 17 races this year, which is the most they’ve ever won since their inception. Most of the victories came in Spanish stage races such as the Vuelta a Asturias and the Vuelta a Burgos but they also took stage wins in the Tour of Luxembourg, the Bayern Rundfahrt and the Tour de Suisse.


1. Build a young and clean squad for the future.
They seem to be achieving this goal nicely, although rumours of signing Danilo di Luca threatened to scupper both the ‘young’ and ‘clean’. On face value, the signing of both Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov makes it look like the team’s focus is moving away from the young and toward the old. However, I don’t feel this is the case. Sastre and Menchov merely give the team a focus for the Grand Tours next year, instead of going through the motions as they seemed to do this year. The young core of Valls, Brandle and Felline is still there and has been added to with young signings like Daniele Ratto, Matteo Pelucchi and the exciting Colombian Fabio Duarte. The team’s average age in 2010 was 25.4, in 2011 as the roster stands, it only rise slightly to 25.76. As regards the clean, they don’t come much squeaky cleaner than Sastre. Although any team involving Mauro Gianetti, will always be likely to carry a question mark.

2. Secure the team’s future for next year.
A big tick, and how. The team will be called Team Geox-TMC next year and has been splashing the cash in the off season making two of the biggest signings in Grand Tour winners Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov. Money does not seem to be a problem.

3. A Grand Tour stage win.
Needless to say, they did not win a Grand Tour stage. The closest they came was when Rafael Valls finished solo a minute behind Sylvain Chavanel on Stage 7 of the Tour, to take 2nd place. They also managed a third place on a stage of each Grand Tour through Iban Mayoz (Stage 13, Giro), Aitor Perez (Stage 15, Tour) and Manuel Cardoso (Stage 18, Vuelta).
When Footon-Servetto revealed their hideous team kit for the year, they were made somewhat of a laughing stock by fans and the media. But in the space of two days in January, Rafael Valls won a stage of the Tour de San Luis and Portuguese champion Cardoso won a stage of the Tour Down Under. Not so much a laughing stock anymore. But that’s where the success ended for the season as the wins dried up. Fabio Felline managed two stage wins and the overall at the Circuit de Lorraine in May and Matthias Brandle won the GP Judendorf Strassengel and his national championships road race in Liechtenstein. But that was it and they finished the year with only seven victories.

Francaise des Jeux

1. Stage wins and a higher top-10 finish in the Tour de France.
Sandy Casar won the Tour de France stage to St. Jean-de-Maurienne, but fell short when it came to the overall. He was nowhere near the top 10, finishing as FDJ’s highest rider on G.C. in 25th place.

2. Paris-Nice. Tour of the Basque Country and Romandy with Casar and Le Mevel.
Paris-Nice was as bad as the Tour for FDJ in terms of G.C. Their highest finisher was again Sandy Casar, this time in 30th place, Le Mevel finished in 36th and neither rider threatened to win a stage. The closest the team came to a stage win was a 3rd place on Stage 5 by Matthieu Ladagnous.
The Tour of the Basque Country went slightly better as Sandy Casar finished 6th overall and Le Mevel finished second on the first stage.
Finally, the Tour of Romandie wasn’t great either. Jeremy Roy and Sandy Casar finished 14th and 15th respectively, with the former finishing 3rd in the opening prologue time trial. Overall, no wins from these three stage races.

3. Cobbled Classics with Guesdon and Geslin.
Former Paris-Roubaix winner Guesdon finished in the top 20 of both cobbled monuments, finishing 18th in the Ronde and 19th in Paris-Roubaix. But that was the extent of the classics success for the French team. Geslin had no result in the cobbled classics, a 12th place in Milan San Remo his only classics result of note. Ever since Gilbert left for Omega-Pharma Lotto, his former team seems to be headless when it comes to the classics, and with Guesdon turning 40 next year and no obvious cobbly riders coming in, it doesn’t seem like things will be any better next year.


1. Win a stage of the Tour (we still haven’t done that, eh?).
Well, they still haven’t done it. A broken wrist sustained by Tyler Farrar in the opening week didn’t help. Although he still managed to finish second on Stage 6. Julian Dean also managed two second places. Next year, with Hushovd, Haussler and Farrar, they will surely overcome what now must be a psychological burden on the entire Tour team

2. Put a rider on the podium of the Tour, although top five would be good too.
I suppose Jonathan Vaughters had Christain Vande Velde in mind when stating this goal. But yet again, the American’s injuries prevented him from racing as competitively as he did when he took 4th in 2008. Instead, Ryder Hesjedal stepped up and finished 7th overall. Not quite the podim or top five, but still a remarkable performance considering he was plan B at best.

3. Win a classic or major one-week-stage race – Dauphiné or Paris-Roubaix.
Garmin-Transitions won both (if you can call Tour of Poland a major one-week race), but didn’t come close to winning either the Dauphiné or Paris-Roubaix. Their best finisher at the Dauphiné was Johan van Summeren in 37th, and their highest place in Paris-Roubaix was Martijn Maaskant in 22nd.
They did however win the Vattenfall Cyclassics with Tyler Farrar. Ireland’s Daniel Martin won the Tour of Poland in August which was Garmin’s first overall victory in a Pro Tour stage race. In total, Garmin won 27 races this year including the Scheldeprijs, Japan Cup, Tre Valli Varesine, Chrono des Nations and stages in the Tour of California, Three Days of De Panne, Tour of Benelux and the Criterium International. Tyler Farrar also won two stages in both the Giro and the Vuelta.

The rest of the teams to come next week…..

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