At the beginning of the season, each member of the VeloVoices team selected one ProTeam to follow for the duration of 2012. Here’s an update on how each squad is progressing after the end of the Flandrian Classics.
WorldTour ranking: 7th, 279 points.
- Criterium International: Cadel Evans – 1st overall, won stage 2 ITT.
- Strade Bianche: Alessandro Ballan – 4th. Greg van Avermaet – 5th.
- Ronde van Vlaanderen: Alessandro Ballan – 3rd. Greg van Avermaet – 4th.
- Paris Roubaix: Alessandro Ballan – 3rd.
- Vuelta al Pais Vasco: Marco Pinotti – won sprints competition.
- Brabantse Pijl: Greg van Avermaet – 5th.
It took a bit of time for BMC to get warmed up, but they’re now starting to really get into the season. Cadel Evans looked as comfortable as ever in the yellow jersey of the Criterium International in March – perhaps a premonition of his attire for July? Alessandro Ballan, however, has had the most results, coming in fourth in Strade Bianche, and on the third step of the podium for both Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix. Greg van Avermaet was just behind him at Strade Bianche and Ronde with fifth and fourth respectively. Van Avermaet also came in fifth in Brabantse Pijl this week.
Paris-Roubaix was notable for BMC for a few other reasons: they were the only team to have three riders in the top 15, with Thor Hushovd and Taylor Phinney coming in 14th and 15th respectively, a particularly impressive result for Phinney as it was his first time at the race as a pro. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that George Hincapie set a couple of Classics records: he alone holds the record of 17 complete rides in the Ronde and shares the record of riding 17 editions of Paris-Roubaix with FDJ’s Frederic Guesdon. He has yet to decide if he’s retiring this year, so next year he might just go for number 18 …
And last but not least, down in the Basque Country, Marco Pinotti came away with the overall sprints classification jersey in a difficult Vuelta al Pais Vasco in early April.
We are also running a competition to win a bunch of BMC goodies! Read here to enter. Competition closes April 29th.
WorldTour ranking: 8th, 208 pts.
- Vuelta al Pais Vasco: Samuel Sanchez – 1st overall, won points competition, won stages 3 & 6, 2nd in stages 4 & 5.
- Klasika Primavera: Igor Anton – 3rd overall, Amets Txurruka – won King of the Mountains competition.
- GP Miguel Indurain: Mikel Landa – 2nd.
- Volta a Catalunya: Samuel Sanchez – 2nd overall, won stage 6, 4th in stage 5.
- Criterium International: Igor Anton – 7th overall.
- Vuelta a Murcia: Samuel Sanchez – 6th overall and 5th in stage 1.
- Boucles du Sud Ardeche: Jon Izagirre – 3rd.
In what might be their final season, at least in their current format, the Carrots are intent on not being crushed. After their typically slow start to the season they’ve swung into action big time. They’ve been surprising us on the Belgian cobbles where we’re so used to seeing them hanging grimly onto the back of the peloton. Former cyclo-crosser Jon Izagirre has been animating races (Gent-Wevelgem 15th, E3 Harelbeke 30th), and completing Paris-Roubaix (79th) within the time limit on his second attempt – no mean feat for someone with his slight build. Rumour has it the spectators were chanting “Are you Belgian in disguise?”. Jon and his older brother Gorka are supporting the team’s specialist climber Mikel Landa at this week end’s Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and, thereafter, Mikel Nieve in the the Giro d’Italia.
Despite podium places at a number of races, all of Euskaltel’s 208 WorldTour points have been earned by Samu Sanchez, currently third overall in the rider rankings. In (finally) winning the team’s home tour, the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Samu achieved one of his few outstanding goals. He will be team leader for the forthcoming Ardennes Classics. He claims on the team’s website that it’s important to plan his season well, as he’s not a young rider any more (he’s 34). His main aims are the Tour de France, defence of his Olympic title and the World Championships, which finish atop the Cauberg, as does Amstel Gold.
WorldTour ranking: 17th, 72 pts.
- Le Samyn: Arnaud Demare – 1st.
- Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen: Arnaud Demare – 1st in stage 2, won points classification.
- Cholet-Pays de Loire: Arnaud Demare – 1st.
- Criterium International: Pierrick Fedrigo – 1st in stage 3.
The star of FDJ’s early season is Arnaud Demare, a young 20-year old who’s got French mouths watering. Considering he’s so young (he rode as a stagiaire for the team last season!) he’s had a lightning start to the year, racking up wins faster than Sandy Casar does breakaways. He’s had success in winning a stage of the Tour of Qatar before emerging victorious in the prestigious one-day race Le Samyn. Despite his wins, the most impressive result to date may well be his fourth place at Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne, a truly magnifique performance!
Aside from Demare, French favourite Pierrick Fedrigo has looked to bounce back after a rotten 2011 ruined by Lyme disease. He took a win on the final, mountainous stage of the Criterium International, and I’m hopeful we’ll see him animating the Tour de France come the summer.
An honourable mention must also go to Frederic Guesdon, a name synonymous with French cycling over the last two decades. He finished his career after completing this season’s Paris-Roubaix, rolling in outside the official time limit but still as a hero, having won the race in 1997.
WorldTour team ranking: 5th, 342 pts.
- Singapore Criterium: Won by Robbie McEwen.
- Paris-Nice: Simon Gerrans – 2nd in stage 3.
- Tirreno-Adriatico: Won stage 1 TTT. Cameron Meyer – 10th overall.
- Milan-San Remo: Won by Simon Gerrans.
- Volta a Catalunya: Michael Albasini – 1st overall, won stages 1 & 2. Allan Davis – 2nd in stage 6.
- Three Days of De Panne: Svein Tuft – 4th overall, 3rd in stage 3b ITT. Tomas Vaitkus – 7th overall. Luke Durbridge – 8th overall.
- Vuelta al Pais Vasco: Daryl Impey – won stage 2. Allan Davis – 2nd in stage 2.
- Circuit de la Sarthe: Luke Durbridge – 1st overall, won stage 3.
GreenEDGE opened their debut season with a bang, with Simon Gerrans‘ win at the opening WorldTour event, January’s Tour Down Under. And they have gone from strength to strength since then, adding the season’s first ‘Monument’ as Gerrans outfoxed Fabian Cancellara and Vincenzo Nibali at Milan-San Remo, and shepherding Michael Albasini to overall victory at the Volta a Catalunya after he had won the opening two stages.
The team has continued to pick up victories elsewhere too. Luke Durbridge took a stage at the Circuit de la Sarthe and claimed the overall three days before his 21st birthday. The team won the opening time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico, putting Matt Goss into the race lead for three days. Daryl Impey led a one-two on the second stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. And, most pleasing of all from a sentimental standpoint, Robbie McEwen won the Singapore Criterium in his swansong season, ensuring he has taken a victory in each of his 17 years as a pro.
Results at the Flandrian Classics were subdued – GreenEDGE isn’t really set up well for this sort of race – with nothing more to show than a pair of 12th places at E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem. However, Canadian Svein Tuft took a fine fourth place at Three Days of De Panne, where Tomas Vaitkus and Durbridge also finished in the top eight.
Unsurprisingly, the team now stands fifth overall in the WorldTour team rankings, with Gerrans second in the individual points table and Albasini tenth. They are unlikely to be able to maintain these lofty heights once the Grand Tours kick off, but GreenEDGE have undoubtedly surpassed all expectations over the opening third of the season.
Previous update: February 24th