Tour de France: rating the teams
First up, it’s the French squad with brown pants, AG2R La Mondiale. Blel Kadri and Romain Bardet had picked up a combativity award each in the first ten days, and on stage 16 Christophe Riblon sprinted to second behind Rui Costa. However, the team’s big moment came two days later he salvaged the Tour for France, winning atop the mythical Alpe d’Huez after going off-road earlier in the stage.
Elsewhere Jean-Christophe Peraud looked set for a top ten on GC until he broke his collarbone on the morning of the second TT. He soldiered on, but another crash towards the end (and in front of his family) put him out of the race for good. 22-year-old Bardet finished as the best Frenchman in 15th overall, while Riblon stood on the podium in Paris as the winner of the combativity award. In addition to this, the AG2R renewed their sponsorship through to 2016.
A successful Tour for the team, with a prestigious win - 8/10
With a team built for the sprints, it was no surprise that Argos-Shimano’s Tour hopes rested on Marcel Kittel’s shoulders. The young German delivered in emphatic style, racking up four stage wins including the dusky finale on the Champs-Élysées, as well as wearing the yellow jersey for a day.
John Degenkolb lost out to Peter Sagan at the finish in Albi, while 22-year-old Tom Dumoulin was in the top ten on the Mont-Saint-Michel TT, so he should be one to watch in future.
Multiple wins for the ‘new sprinter on the block’ means a good Tour – 9/10
The best Astana could’ve hoped for from this Tour would have been a stage win and a top ten on GC, and they very nearly got both. Jakob Fuglsang narrowly lost out to Dan Martin in Bagnères-de-Bigorre, but rode (almost unnoticed by the cameras) to 7th place overall with some consistent if unspectacular riding.
There was bad luck for the team earlier in the race as climber Frederik Kessiakoff and co-leader Janez Brajkovic both abandoned after crashes, so Fuglsang achieved his goal with a depleted team.
Stealth riding from Fuglsang, but he got the job done - 6/10
Electronic company Belkin came in to sponsor the Blanco team just before the Tour, and would’ve been thrilled to see Bauke Mollema and Laurens Ten Dam in 3rd and 4th place on GC as the Tour reached its midway point. The final week proved a tougher challenge for the duo, with Mollema falling ill and Ten Dam struggling in the Alps.
The enigma that is Robert Gesink remains, an hour down in 26th place at the end of the Tour. Still, 6th and 13th overall in Paris is still a good result for the de facto Dutch national team.
Performed about as well as could have been expected given the talent on board - 6/10
Team BMC didn’t have a lot to write home about. Few would have expected Steve Morabito to be their highest GC man come Paris (I had Tejay Van Garderen down as a podium challenger). Cadel Evans’ most notable act was soft-pedalling the second time trial to finish in 177th place. Some speculated that he was preparing for an attack in the Alps, but his total time loss of an hour and twenty minutes over those stages suggests otherwise.
Van Garderen provided the team’s only bright spot with a heroic second place on Alpe d’Huez – he was caught with 2km to go after chasing back after a mechanical. Philippe Gilbert was conspicuous by his absence. DS John Lelangue resigned the day after the Tour finished, which sums things up nicely.
A miserable, massive under-performance – 1.5/10
Here was another squad centred around one man, and Slovakian prodigy Peter Sagan now has as many green jerseys as he does Tour participations. He certainly would’ve liked more than one stage win, but the 23-year-old finished in the top four an incredible nine times. Consistency was the name of the game and he strolled to the green jersey in Paris with a gap of 87 points.
Elsewhere, Moreno Moser was in the break on double-Alpe d’Huez day, doing a great job staying with Van Garderen and Riblon until he lost contact on the final climb. With a famous name and fantastic all-round abilities, his is a star in the ascendancy.
Cannondale did what they set out to do – 9/10
One of the three (all French) wildcard entries in the Tour, Cofidis would’ve been pleased to come away with a stage win. That didn’t happen, but a top ten on GC for new signing Daniel Navarro was something nobody would have predicted. The Spaniard’s shrewd move to get into the breakaway on Stage 19 meant he moved from 13th to 8th on GC. He rolled into Paris in 9th having fallen behind fellow countryman Alejandro Valverde on the Côte de Semnoz.
Getting airtime in the breakaways was a goal achieved too, but Rein Taaramae (11th in the Tour in 2011, three hours down this year) has not looked the same since his bout of mononucleosis last year. Otherwise, the boys in red can be happy with their Tour.
Unexpected top ten finish for one of the smallest teams in the race – 7/10
Another polka-dot jersey and a stage win or two would have spelled a successful Tour for Europcar. In the end though, they came away with nothing. Pierre Rolland put up a valiant fight for the King of the Mountains prize, leading the competition for half the Tour. Despite being only one point behind Chris Froome on the penultimate day, hoovering up the early points wasn’t enough as the GC leaders contested the stage, taking double points at the top of the Côte de Semnoz.
The rest of the team tried their luck in the breakaways (Jérôme Cousin won two combativity prizes), and we saw a handful of failed Voeckler attacks. One bit of good news for the team is that Europcar have renewed their sponsorship for a further two years.
Some nice visibility but a very disappointing Tour for them - 4/10
With rumours surfacing about the future of the sponsors yet again, a good Tour showing at the Tour would’ve gained the Basque squad some much-needed publicity. However, this wasn’t to be, as the team endured another anonymous performance at the biggest race in cycling.
Mikel Nieve was the standout performer, the only one. Consistent in the mountains with three top tens and a 3rd place finish on Mont Ventoux, he ended up in 12th overall. There really isn’t much else to say about their Tour, as even the usual spate of Euskaltel crashes have thankfully dried up.
Almost invisible without Nieve – 5/10
FDJ.fr had a few reasons to look forward to this Tour. Amongst their roster they could count the great French stage race hope Thibaut Pinot, and the great French sprint hope Nacer Bouhanni. It looked as though the team could hope a stage win from Bouhanni and hopefully an improvement on Pinot’s phenomenal 10th place overall on his debut Tour, but it only took a week for their race to fall apart.
21-year-old Bouhanni struggled with stomach problems in the early stages before causing a crash on stage 5, and then withdrawing a day later. Pinot didn’t make it to end of the race either – he lost over half an hour in the Pyrénées due to his fear of descending. He left the race after Ventoux, having made no impact. We saw Jérémy Roy, Arthur Vichot and Arnold Jeannesson in breaks, with each coming away with a top ten, but never really close to a win.
Unlucky to lose both of their star riders, a Tour to forget – 2/10
Garmin-Sharp came into the race with team boss Jonathan Vaughters claiming they could “create chaos” at the Tour. They certainly brought a strong line-up and with varied targets such as stage wins, the TTT, the white jersey, and a high GC placing, it certainly looked like we would certainly be seeing a lot of them.
In the end it was Andrew Talansky and Dan Martin who came up with the goods. Talansky missed out on white, but snuck into the top ten on GC, while the Irishman won Stage 9 with a late attack and a canny final few kilometres of riding. On the other hand, the TTT didn’t quite go to plan, and Ryder Hesjedal was unlucky to break a rib early on.
JV and co can be happy with their Tour - 7/10
Joaquim Rodriguez’s podium finish in Paris was the sign of a job well done for Katusha. He improved as the Tour went on (from 2:06 down on Froome at Ax-3-Domaines to 0:11 up at Annecy-Semnoz), and gets his third Grand Tour podium in a row. At aged 34, time will is running out for the Spaniard to win a GT. The upcoming TT-light/mountain-heavy Vuelta looks tailor-made for him.
There’s not a lot to say about the rest of the Russian team. Daniel Moreno did his usual job as Purito’s right hand man well, while Alexander Kristoff couldn’t beat Kittel in the reduced sprint on Stage 1.
A stage win for Rodriguez would have been the icing on the cake - 8/10
Yes, Lampre were at the Tour. Roberto Ferrari had a couple of 5th placed finishes in bunch sprints, and that’s about the long and short of it. The team (especially leader Damiano Cunego and several of the backroom staff) have other things to worry about in any case.
The Italian squad had an abject Tour - 1/10
André Greipel and his sprint train will have no doubt had the green jersey and a couple of stage wins on their minds as they arrived in Corsica for the Grand Départ. One stage win and two second places was the reality come Paris, with the big German coming nowhere near green. GC man Jurgen Van Den Broeck abandoned with knee trouble, a day after crashing in Marseille. This left Lotto-Belisol with Adam Hansen as their only presence on l’Alpe.
Better luck next year for the Belgian team - 5/10
Movistar had a better Tour than anyone predicted. 23-year-old Colombian Nairo Quintana was one of the stars of the Tour, finishhing in 2nd place overall and taking the white and polka-dot jerseys along with a stage win at Annecy-Semnoz. The young climber has been on the rise for some time, and this July was a joyful confirmation of his talents. He looked like the only man capable of matching Chris Froome in the mountains, and is a definite future Grand Tour winner.
Alejandro Valverde also looked set to challenge at the top of the GC until an unfortunately-timed puncture on the wind-hit Stage 13 saw him lose nearly ten minutes to the leaders, but still managed to finish 8th overall. He should be in good form for the Vuelta. The team won another two stages thanks to the expert breakaway skills of Rui Costa on Stages 16 and 19 – on the rainy road to Le Grand Bornard he attacked the break with 66km to go!
A Tour beyond their imagination – 10/10
The goals of Omega Pharma-Quick Step at this Tour de France were transparent – the green jersey and the TTs. Mark Cavendish’s fight for green didn’t get off to a good start as the Manxman was involved in the mass pile-up on the first stage, and by the time he picked up his first stage win in Marseille, Peter Sagan was already over forty points ahead.
The win in Marseille proved to be Cav’s only bunch-sprint win this Tour, with his other victory coming after the crosswind split on Stage 13 – a ride which saw him receive the combativity award for the team. His two wins mark the sprinter’s least fruitful Tour since he started winning stages in 2008. Teammate Matteo Trentin’s first pro win in Lyon saw Cavendish in tears.
Tony Martin’s wounds from the crash in Corsica didn’t stop him from taking the TT to Mont Saint-Michel (Sylvain Chavanel also nabbed a top ten on that stage), but the World Champions lost out by less than a second in the TTT. The Tour also saw the emergence of 23-year-old Pole Michał Kwiatkowski as a possible future GC contender. He was strong this Spring, and proved to be a good all-rounder in the sprints and TT here. His white jersey challenge faded in the Alps, but his 11th place finish was a surprise to many.
Very good Tour despite a lack of green - 9/10
Orica-GreenEdge caught the eye for all the wrong (and weird) reasons on Stage 1, when their bus got trapped under the finish line gantry. The peloton was 12km out when the finish line was moved near a roundabout 3km out, before the bus was extracted and the finish reverted back to it’s original place. It was too late for some though, as the confusion caused a mass pile-up in the peloton.
Corsica was also the scene for a better day for the Australian team – Simon Gerrans took the win on the lumpy stage into Calvi, along with the yellow jersey. The celebrations continued as the team won the TTT by less than a second the following day, before a split in the bunch in Montpellier saw Gerrans hand yellow to teammate Daryl Impey.
Two wins and four days in yellow in the first week meant mission accomplished, and we didn’t see a lot from GreenEdge for the remainder of the Tour, though Michael Albasini narrowly lost out to Matteo Trentin on Stage 14.
A great first week made their Tour – 8/10
With Andy Schleck battling a lack of form and motivation ever since his hip injury last year, nobody could really predict what to expect from the Luxembourger or his RadioShack-Leopard team. A stage win would render their Tour a success, and it came early – Jan Bakelants’ late attack on Stage 2 ensured he could just about hold off a marauding peloton and claim the yellow jersey. He was on the attack again on Stage 7, picking up the combativity prize.
A quiet middle week followed, before the team seemed to come to the fore again in the Alps. Bakelants popped up again on Stage 19, joining teammate Andreas Klöden in the break. The duo managed a respectable 3rd and 2nd place repectively, as Rui Costa rode away to the victory. 41-year-old Jens Voigt was the last man remaining out front the day after, in what he has said will be his last Tour.
The team were in contention for the team prize until the final few days, while Andy managed a respectable 20th on GC and tried an attack on the Alpe d’Huez stage. Maxime Monfort rode, unnoticed, to 14th on GC, while team hero Bakelants ended up 18th.
Would’ve taken this if they were offered it before the race - 7/10
Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank gave Alberto Contador what was probably his strongest support team ever as he sought to add another Tour de France title to his collection. El Pistolero hadn’t looked in great form this season, but if anybody was going to beat Sky, he was who everybody had their money on. In the end it proved not to be, with the first mountain-top finish giving a lot of people the answer to who would be winning the Tour.
Further time losses on the Mont Saint-Michel TT and Mont Ventoux were only mitigated by the minute or so gained in the crosswinds on Stage 13. A good performance in the hilly TT promised fun in the Alps but Contador couldn’t do anything when the attacks came. On the penultimate day, he slipped from 2nd to 4th overall, with teammate Kreuziger in 5th. In addition to that, Mick Rogers 16th place finish meant that Saxo-Tinkoff would take home the team prize.
Had hoped for more, but 2 in the top 5 is not to be sniffed at – 7.5/10
How to sum this up? Team Sky did what they set out to do, and what most of us knew they would do. They won the Tour. Chris Froome finished with a margin of 4:20 over second-place, which would’ve been more had the team not gotten together for a photo-op as they rolled over the line in Paris.
Froome won emphatically at Ax-3-Domaines, at Mont Ventoux, and won without giving his all in the second TT. It looked as though he could’ve won the first TT had he not slowed towards the end. There was the fall before Stage 1 even started, the team collapse on Stage 9, the crosswind indecision on Stage 13, and the gel incident on Alpe d’Huez, but each one turned out to be minor setbacks on the road to glory.
There have been suspicions, and they are valid given the sport’s history, the ease (and speed) of Froome’s victory, and Sky’s total unwillingness to be as transparent as they have claimed to be. However, these can only remain doubts because as of now there is no solid proof of anything. A mention should go to Welshman Geraint Thomas for riding the whole race with a fractured pelvis.
Dominated, again – 10/10
Perennial wildcard entry, Sojasun, will have been overjoyed with a stage win. They nearly got it too. Julien Simon leapt away from the break with 15km remaining of Stage 14, and stayed away til he was past the flamme rouge. The metres edged by, and the chasers edged nearer. I’m sure most of France would’ve been willing him on, shouting at their television sets, hoping for their first stage win of the Tour and Sojasun’s first ever. I know I was.
Simon was just under a kilometre from victory when his and Sojasun’s hopes were snuffed out. He took home the combativity prize but it must have been scant consolation. Apart from this, Sojasun weren’t that noticeable (breakaways aside of course). I don’t remember seeing team leader Brice Feillu at all, but young Alexis Vuillermoz stood out with some attacking riding.
A kilometre away from a perfect Tour – 3/10
Like Euskaltel, Vacansoleil are another team under threat. In May, both Vacansoleil and DCM announced that they will leave cycling at the end of the season. Another thing they have in common with Euskaltel is a lack of performance at the Tour. A couple of podium places from 19-year-old Danny Van Poppel (Stage 1) and Thomas De Gendt (Stage 11) were the only stand-out results in a mediocre Tour for the Dutch squad.
Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha was seen going on a handful of fruitless attacks, but I am struggling to remember any from Johnny Hoogerland. I hope they can find new sponsors, but it won’t be based on this performance.
A dire race from a team who are fighting for existence – 2/10
Sky (1st, 3 stages), Movistar (2nd + 8th, 3 stages, polka-dot + white)
OPQS (11th, 4 stages), Cannondale (1 stage, green), Argos (4 stages, wore yellow)
Katusha (3rd), AG2R (15th, Alpe stage, combativity), GreenEdge (2 stages, wore yellow)
Saxo Bank (4th, 5th)
Radioshack (14th, 1 stage, wore yellow), , Garmin (10th, 1 stage), Cofidis (9th)
Belkin (6th, 13th) , Astana (7th)
Lotto (1 stage), Euskaltel (12th, 3rd on Ventoux)
Europcar (visible, polka-dot challenge)
Sojasun (visible, close to a win)
Vacansoleil (2 3rd places), FDJ.fr (bad luck)
BMC (2nd on l’Alpe)
Lampre (literally nothing)
You’ve seen what I think, now here’s a look at the team classification and the prize money list..
Here’s a good summary of the monetary prizes on offer throughout the Tour if you want to try and work out an estimate of how much each rider has contributed. For example, you can see that Sky riders not called Chris Froome made about €50,000 of their €525,690 total.
Generally, the prize money does seem to equate to how well teams have performed. The rather large anomaly there is Vacansoleil of course. How they are within €4,000 of a team that won four stages I do not know.