2010 Teams Review – Part 2

Continuing on from last week’s post on how each cycling team fared when their stated top three goals for the year are considered, here’s the remainder of the teams:


1. Cavendish to win the Tour green jersey and lots of stages.
There were a lot of what ifs raised by the green jersey competition this year. What if Cavendish hadn’t crashed on Stage 1? What if Petacchi’s doping investigation catches up with him and his results from the Tour are expunged? What if the green jersey points on Stage 2 hadn’t been declared void? What if Cavendish had contested a few intermediate sprints?
At the 2008 Tour, Cavendish was only interested in winning stages, but since then, for the past two years, the Green jersey has been a major goal for Cavendish and he has come up slightly short on both occasions. I would imagine he will be going bananas to win the jersey next year.
As for lots of stage wins? Just the five this year.

2. Cavendish to win Milan San Remo or Ghent-Wevelgem.
If we’re to believe Cavendish’s comments toward the end of the season, the Spring classics were never a major goal, as his training was designed toward peaks at the Tour and the Worlds, which makes it seem odd that Stapleton should declare these goals for Cavendish. The defending champion finished 89th in Milan San Remo as he was still recovering from a dentist-induced layoff and he did not take part in Ghent Wevelgem.

3. Integrating the new youngsters into the team.
A tricky goal to evaluate. A trend that has become apparent in Bob Stapleton’s teams is that he snaps up lots of supremely talented young riders, he then finds he cannot cater for the ambitions of all his riders and ultimately is forced to let many great riders leave at the end of the year. At the end of 2008, Bradley Wiggins, Linus Gerdemann and Gerald Ciolek all left the team. Last year saw the departure of Michael Barry, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Marcus Burgahrdt, Greg Henderson, George Hincapie, Kim Kirchen, Thomas Lofkvist and Morris Possoni. That’s a decent Tour de France team right there. This year sees the departure of André Greipel, Maxime Monfort and Michael Rogers amongst others.

As for integrating youngsters, the highest profile case of the failure of a young rider to integrate into a new team this year is HTC-Columbia’s Rasmus Guldhammer, who became so disgruntled with being a professional cyclist, he quit the top level of the sport altogether, choosing instead to go home to Denmark to ride for a local team. Other young riders which did seem to integrate well and make the grade were Leigh Howard, who in his first season as a pro, won a stage of the Tour of Oman, and Peter Velits who took a remarkable time trial victory in the Vuelta a Espana on his way to 3rd place overall (which may be bumped to 2nd, following the positive test of Ezequiel Mosquera).

In general HTC-Columbia is a hot bed of young talent, let’s not forget Cavendish himself is still only 25 years old. Also riding for the team next year will be John Degenkolb, who is one of the most exciting young riders in the world, and the Irish road race champion Matt Brammeier.


1. Ride a strong classics season with Pozzato, Ivanov and Kirchen.
Filippo Pozzato, who was blasted this Autumn by Philippe Gilbert for his negative racing tactics, didn’t have a good spring classics campaign. His best result was 7th in Paris-Roubaix and he also came 4th in the E3 Prijs. Serguei Ivanov animated the Amstel Gold as the defending champion but ultimately finished 12th which was his best classics result. Kim Kirchen, sadly, suffered a heart attack during the Tour de Suisse and hasn’t raced since. He insists he is not retiring but is yet to announce his plans for next season.
Funnily enough, it was to be two other riders who were to achieve Katusha’s best classics results of the season. Joaquim Rodriguez finished second in the Fléche Wallonne, behind Cadel Evans and just ahead of Alberto Contador while Alexandr Kolobnev also finished as runner up in Liége-Bastogne-Liége.

2. Tour GC with Rodriguez and Karpets.
Vladimir Karpets only lasted until Stage 9 after falling and breaking a bone in his hand during that messy stage to Spa. Joaquim Rodriguez, who was surprisingly riding the Tour for the first time, won the stage to Mende and finished a creditable 8th overall.

3. Send a strong team to the Vuelta and be all-rounders in the other Historic races.
Rodriguez flew the Katusha flag again at the Vuelta a Espana where he won a stage, wore the leader’s jersey for two days and ultimately finished 4th. Thanks to his consistency across the whole year, 1st Volta a Catalunya, 3rd Vuelta al Pais Vasco, 6th Paris-Nice and 9th Tour de Suisse along with his aforementioned results in Fléche Wallonne and the Tour, he ended the year as the World’s number one ranked rider. Katusha’s only other wins in the Historic races were two stage wins at the Giro d’Italia by Filippo Pozzato and Evgeni Petrov.

Lampre-Farnese Vini

1. Cunego to win Liége-Bastogne-Liége or another Ardennes classic.
‘Average’ seems the best way to sum up Cunego’s Ardennes campaign. For many other riders, 6th in Amstel Gold, 5th in Fléche Wallonne and 20th in Liége-Bastogne-Liége would be results to be proud of. But Cunego has won the Tour of Lombardy three times and is also a former winner of Amstel Gold, he would have been expecting a lot better. Cunego ended the season with no wins for the first time in his career.

2. Milan San Remo victory for Petacchi.
As a former winner, Petacchi is an annual favourite at the first monument of the season, and at aged 36, his 3rd place this year was pretty good. However, he may have ridden La Primavera for the last time, as he’s currently being investigated for doping which took place before the Tour de France. If he ends up being suspended, we won’t see him on a bike again.

3. Tour and Giro stage wins from Cunego and Petacchi.
Petacchi, for various reasons, rode the Tour de France for the first time since 2004 and he performed better than anyone expected winning two stages and winning the points classification, thus, completing his set of Grand Tour points jerseys. The closest Cunego came to a stage win in either the Giro or the Tour was a 2nd place behind Cadel Evans in the muck infused stage to Montalcino in the Giro.
Other performances of note were Simon Spilak who retrospectively won the Tour de Romandie after Valverde was suspended and Grega Bole who won a couple of stages  in the Tour de Slovenie and finished 2nd overall in the Tour of Poland.


1. Pellizotti or Basso to win the Giro.
Big tick. On the eve of the Giro, Pellizotti was informed that his biological passport was looking dodgy and he was provisionally suspended, he has since been cleared and is now loooking to sue the UCI for loss of earnings. Thus, he was blocked from riding the Giro, which meant Vincenzo Nibali was drafted in late in the day. Nibali proved to be an invaluable domestique for Basso’s second Giro d’Italia win. Both riders won a stage and Nibali eventually finished 3rd capping a hugely successful home Grand Tour for the Liquigas team.

2. Basso and Nibali to do well at the Tour.
The Giro took a lot out of Basso, and his quest to become the eighth rider to do the Giro-Tour double didn’t materialise as he finished a lowly 32nd. Liquigas’s best performer at the Tour was Roman Kreuziger who finished 9th.

Due to Nibali’s participation in the Giro, he missed out on selection for the Tour but was designated team leader at the Vuelta, which he won in splendid fashion. For me, it was the most exciting Vuelta I’ve ever watched. The final mountain stage battle between Nibali and Mosquera was fantastic (although it has since been sullied by Mosquera’s doping positive). Basso and Nibali have proven to be a formidable Grand Tour tag team. They have announced that Nibali is targeting the Giro next year while Basso will focus on the Tour. I can’t see Basso beating Andy Schleck around France, but I find it hard to see past Nibali for the Giro win.

3. Grand Tour stage wins for Bennati.
Dismal. He was hampered by injury throughout the year and did not start either the Giro or the Tour. He took a 2nd and a 3rd place in sprint finishes at the Vuelta but in general it was a poor year for the Italian. He won a stage at the Tour of Oman and the Tirreno-Adriatico but he was largely outshone by team mate Francesco Chicchi all year. He will ride for Team Schleck next season where he will hope to bounce back with some Grand Tour wins.

Liquigas in general had a great year, 2nd only behind HTC-Columbia in terms of race wins, with 40. The team won stages in Qatar, Oman, Tirreno-Adriatico, Paris-Nice, Turkey, California and Slovenia amongst others. Peter Sagan was one of the stars of the year, in his first year as a professional he won stages in Paris-Nice, the Tour of California and the Tour de Romandie. A hugely exciting prospect for next year.


1. Ciolek to take a Grand Tour stage.
The only Grand Tour that Ciolek ended up riding in 2010 was the Tour de France, in which his best result came on Stage 5 to Montargis when he finished 2nd to Mark Cavendish. Edvald Boasson Hagen rounded out the podium that day, which incidentally, was the first time that the first three finishers on a Tour stage were all eligible for the young rider competition since the 8th Stage of the 1987 Tour when Jean-Paul van Poppel, Michel Vermonte and Johan Capiot finished in that order.

2. Gerdemann to win the Tour of Germany.
The Tour of where? This race hasn’t been contested since 2008. This was obviously wishful thinking on behalf of Gerrie van Gerwen that Milram’s home Tour would be resurrected for 2010. Gerdemann has never lived up to the promise he showed in winning a mountains stage and wearing the Maillot Jaune in the 2007 Tour de France. His best result this year was a stage win in the pissing rain in Tirreno-Adriatico.
In other German races, Ciolek won a stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt, Niki Terpstra won Sparkassen Giro Bochum and Christian Knees won the German national road race title.

3. Wegmann to do well at the Ardennes Classics.
Wegmann finished 25th in Amstel Gold, 16th in Liége-Bastogne-Liége and didn’t finish Fléche Wallonne. Not exactly results to get excited about. Wegmann’s best result of 2010 was a 3rd place finish at a stage in the Tour de France, but that was the stage where everybody rode in together at the behest of Fabian Cancellara. Milram’s best result in the Ardennes was in fact Wegmann’s 16th in Liége. In general it was a forgettable season for Milram and the lack of major results makes it hardly surprising that the team is disbanding at the end of the year.

Omega Pharma-Lotto

1. Philippe Gilbert to win a Spring Classic.
Success! Gilbert won the Amstel Gold Race, becoming the 3oth different rider to win the race in the last 30 editions. He also won the final classic of the season, the Giro di Lombardia, in foul conditions. These two victories were the highlights of a remarkable year for Gilbert in the classics. 9th Milan San Remo, 3rd Ghent-Wevelgem, 4th Tour of Flanders, 1st Amstel Gold, 6th Fléche Wallonne, 3rd Liége-Bastogne-Liége, and 1st Giro di Lombardia, a truly sensational set of results.

2. Gilbert to win throughout the year.
In addition to his major classics victories, Gilbert added a stage of the Tour of Belgium, two stages of the Vuelta a Espana and the Giro del Piemonte which meant he celebrated victory in April, May, August, September and October, mission accomplished. But it’s a good thing Gilbert was this prolific as only two other riders on the team managed to win this year. Matthew Lloyd won a stage and the mountains prize at the Giro d’Italia and young British sprinter Adam Blythe had a storming end to the season with two stage wins and the overall in the Circuit Franco-Belge along with the Nationale Sluitingprijs one day race.

3. Young riders to improve at the Tour de France.
Omega Pharma-Lotto had three riders aged 25 or under at the Tour de France, Jurgen Roelandts, Francis de Greef and Mickael Delage, only one of whom had ridden the Tour before. Delage had previously finished 116th and 100th at the Tour but couldn’t improve on that this year as he was forced to abandon on Stage 2. As for the two debutants, Roelandts finished 120th but did manage a fourth place on the Champs Elyseés while De Greef finished 72nd overall.
But as a team, they all supported Jurgen van den Broeck on his way to a superb 5th place in Paris, the first Belgian to finish in the top 5 at the Tour since Claude Criquielion in 1985.

Quick Step

1. Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix
Quick step’s spring classics campaign was a failure for one reason and one reason only…Fabian Cancellara. The Swiss rider powered away from Tom Boonen to solo home in both of the cobbled monuments. At the Tour of Flanders, Boonen soldiered on to finish on his own, a minute behind Cancellara and a minute ahead of the bunch. In Paris-Roubaix however, Boonen didn’t react well to his breakaway companions’ attitude when Cancellara attacked, saying “I’m obviously disappointed. But if Cancellara attacks and I can’t follow him that’s fair enough. But I’m angry with the other guys. At no time did any of them try to race and some of them, including (Juan Antonio) Flecha, had already resigned themselves to racing for second“. Subsequently, Boonen didn’t really commit to racing properly in the final few kilometres and ended up in 5th place. A 2nd and 5th in these two races for any other rider would be excellent, but this wasn’t satisfactory for a five time winner of these races. Indeed, it was the first time since 1989 that a Patrick Lefevere team did not win a spring classic of some description.

2. Win Tour stages with Tom Boonen
Unfortunately, due to a crash in the Tour of California in May, a persistent knee injury prevented Boonen from starting the Tour de France. Consequently, Quick Step’s hopes of Tour success lay primarily on the shoulders of Sylvain Chavanel who didn’t disappoint. Two stage wins for the Frenchman also led to two separate stints in the yellow jersey. After Stage 2, Quick Step also had the honour of holding all three major jerseys, yellow, green and polka dot. Chavanel held both yellow and green, while Jerome Pineau wore the polka dot jersey. This is the first time one team has led all three competitions at the Tour since R.M.O. in 1992 through Pascal Lino and Richard Virenque.

3. Do well in the Giro with Seeldraeyers/Chavanel and in the Ardennes.
Chavanel didn’t ride the Giro and of the Ardennes classics he only rode the Amstel Gold Race where he finished 16th. Seeldraeyers didn’t start the Giro but did manage to finish the Tour, but with no top tens to speak of for the whole year, it was a year to forget for the young Belgian. Despite these two non-starters at the Giro, Quick Step shifted their focus and ended up with two stage wins through Jerome Pineu and Wouter Weylandt. Carlos Barredo also won a stage of the Vuelta, making it a Grand Tour stage win hat-trick for Quick Step, this in stark contrast to last year, when they didn’t win any Grand Tour stages.


1. The Spring Classics.
Rabobank’s classics campaign got off to a perfect start when Oscar Freire won Milan San Remo for a third time. Freire book-ended the season nicely by winning Paris-Tours as well (the first rider ever to win both races in one year), but everything in between for Rabobank was rather mediocre. Rick Flens managed a 2nd place in the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne raced in horrific weather, and Lars Boom finished 5th in the E3 Prijs, but that’s about it. The loss of Juan Antonio Flecha to Team Sky was a blow, while Nick Nuyens, Sebastian Langeveld and Joost Posthuma didn’t perform to the standard expected of them this year. Posthuma and Nuyens will be moving on next year, but Matti Breschel has been drafted in to try and improve the team’s results in the cobbled classics.

2. Robert Gesink to finish as high as possible in the Tour de France.
Gesink did as well as could be expected in the Tour de France, finishing 6th. For a rider who’s not yet 25, this is a great result. With Andy Schleck finally too old to win the White Jersey anymore, Gesink should be favourite to win that competition next year while challenging for a place on the podium. Gesink also won a stage of the Tour de Suisse as well as two one day races toward the end of the season, the inaugural GP de Montréal and the Giro dell’Emilia where he pipped Dan Martin for the win. Gesink was approaching the Tour of Lombardy as a huge favourite before he returned to Holland to be with his father after he was involved in a mountain biking accident. Tragically, his father died as a result of his injuries. Hopefully, Gesink will bounce back next year and we’ll see him race his hands in a victory dedicated to his father.

3. Vuelta a Espana and the Giro d’Italia.
Rabobank failed to win a stage in either of these Grand Tours. Denis Menchov finished 2nd in the final time trial of the Vuelta behind surprise winner Peter Velits, and Graeme Brown came second in a bunch sprint in the Giro but that was the closest they came. As for G.C. positions, highest in the Giro was Bauke Mollema in 12th, which is encouraging as he is only 23 and is a former winner of the Tour de l’Avenir. The highest in the Vuelta was former winner Denis Menchov in 41st, which is excusable considering his excellent 3rd place finish in the Tour.

Team Radioshack

1. Win the Tour de France.
If the doping investigation currently surrounding Lance Armstrong ultimately doesn’t manage to soil his reputation, he did a pretty good job of soiling it himself on a sporting level this July. Although a plethora of crashes didn’t help, he was never up there with the top riders when it mattered most, he ended up finishing his final Tour de France in 23rd place.
There was much debate before the Tour over which elderly Radio Shack rider would fare best – Armstrong, Leipheimer or Kloden? As it turned out it was Chris Horner, who finished tenth. Horner had a fantastic year in which he won the Tour of the Basque Country and also finished in the top 10 of the Criterium International, the Giro di Sardegna, all three Ardennes classics, the Tour of California and the Dauphiné. Not bad for a 39 year old.

2. Win the Tour of California.
Leipheimer was aiming to win this race for the fourth year in a row but fell just short, finishing third only 25 seconds behind eventual winner Michael Rogers, with David Zabriskie finishing 3rd.

3. Armstrong to do well in the Classics.
Illness put paid to any goals Armstrong had of performing well in the Spring classics, he was forced out of races in March and April citing sickness both times. The only classic he ended up racing was the Tour of Flanders where he finished a not-too-shabby 27th. He did manage to recover to finish 3rd in the Tour of Luxembourg and 2nd in the Tour de Suisse. His form coming into the Tour looked ominous before bad luck and old age seemed to finally catch up with him. RadioShack’s best classics result was Sebastian Rosseler winning Brabantse Pijl. Their best result of the season was Sergio Paulinho winning a stage of the Tour de France.

Saxo Bank

1. Win the Tour de France with Andy Schleck.
Still a possibility if Contador is found guilty, although Schleck has said he doesn’t want to win the Tour this way. But if Contador does receive a two year ban, Schleck will find winning the Tour next year considerably easier, and if he does win, whether he likes it or not he will suddenly become a two time Tour winner.

2. Do well in the cobbled and Ardennes classics with Cancellara and the Schlecks.
Cycling fans this year were witness to probably the most dominant cobbled classics performance by a rider ever. Fabian Cancellara dominated the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix so much so that his bike was tested for the presence of a motor, that says it all. For good measure, he won the E3 Prijs too.
Although neither of the Schlecks finished on the podium in any of the three Ardennes races. Frank finished 7th in Amstel Gold, Andy finished 8th in Fléche Wallonne and they both managed a top ten in Liége-Bastogne-Liége. So not too bad, but Cancellara’s performances in the preceding weeks more than made up for it.

3. To be competitive in any race.
A vague goal but it seems to have been achieved nonetheless. Saxo Bank won races each month from February right through until September. They won a total of 37 races, a tally only bettered by HTC-Columbia and Liquigas. They won one day races – Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, E3 Prijs, Dwars Door Vlaanderen, GP Herning. They won short stage races – Tour of Oman, Tour de Suisse, Tour of Denmark, Tour du Limousin. They won Grand Tour stages – Chris Anker Sorensen and Gustav Erik Larsson in the Giro and Andy Schleck and Fabian Cancellara won two stages each at the Tour. They also won the World Time Trial Title and (maybe) a Grand Tour as well.

Team Sky

1. Win the Tour with Bradley Wiggins.
Probably the most widely reported failure of the season. Wiggins, trying to improve on his 4th place finish in 2009, ended up in 24th place. Unlike his rather aloof and disinterested comments he gave in the direct aftermath of the Tour, he gave a rather engaging interview which appeared in November’s Pro Cycling magazine, in which he says “In hindsight, riding the Giro d’Italia was perhaps not the best thing to do. Or the way we raced the Giro was a mistake anyway. It was a brutal race. The guys who did the Giro all seemed to fall by the wayside at the Tour – myself, Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso had a shocker“.

Let’s not forget though that Wiggins finished the Giro in a lowly 40th, whereas Evans and Basso finished 4th and 1st respectively. Accordingly, Wiggins offers further reasons for his lack of fitness in July, “The next mistake was not racing at all between the Giro and the Tour, which I didn’t do last year…but this year [I didn’t race] because we had our heads up our own arses over the Tour de France“.

He goes on, “I was in really good form early in the year in Murcia and finished third and instead of moving on from that and going to other races like the Criterium International and using that form, it was more a case of backing off, of saying: ‘Let’s have a week off now and come down a bit and then start building again‘. It was always done with a view to the Tour whereas the year before, because I didn’t have any grand scheme of doing well at the Tour de France, I was doing all of the races I love doing like Paris-Roubaix, the Three Days of De Panne. I was just enjoying racing, and racing for results”.

Wiggins insists that he can repeat his performance of 2009. His boss at Garmin, Jonathan Vaughters has said that the 2009 Tour route was particularly suited to Wiggins. If the 2009 Tour route suited him, and the 2010 route didn’t, then I would say the 2011 route suits him even less.

2. Win a Spring Classic with Edvald Boasson Hagen.
Boasson Hagen was unable to repeat his Ghent-Wevelgem success of last year, his best result was 6th in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. But fortunately for Team Sky, it was his team mate Juan Antonio Flecha who finished 1st, winning the first classic of the cycling season. Flecha also managed a podium place in both Paris-Roubaix and the E3-Prijs.

3. Allow riders to fulfil their potential.
For a team that relies on statistics and data as much as Team Sky do, this is a strikingly undefined goal for the year. Russell Downing certainly progressed a level, he won a stage of the Criterium International having previously raced only on the British domestic scene. Greg Henderson followed on from his first Grand Tour stage win at the Vuelta in 2009 and had a great season, winning a stage each in Paris-Nice, the Eneco Tour and the Tour of Britain. But otherwise, the team’s main riders punched below their weight. The team did win Het Niuewsblad, the Giro Prologue, stages in the Dauphiné, the Tour of Oman, the Tour Down Under and the Tour de Wallonie, however, amongst all the hype, the big guns failed to deliver. Bradley Wiggins, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Juan Antonio Flecha and Thomas Lofkvist seemed to stagnate, while Simon Gerrans went positively backward. Team Sky’s grade for 2010 – could do better.

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