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 ahead of the start of the Vuelta a Espana.
WorldTour ranking: 5th, 649 points.
- Tour de France: Tejay van Garderen – 5th overall, won best young rider classification. George Hincapie – record 17 starts and 16 finishes. Cadel Evans – 7th overall, 2nd in stages 7 & 8.
- Tour of Austria: Steve Morabito – 2nd overall.
- Paris-Correze: Johann Tschopp – 3rd overall. Adam Blythe – won stage 1.
- Eneco Tour: Taylor Phinney – 3rd in stage 1, 2nd in stage 6 ITT.
Cadel Evans had started his run-up to the Tour de France by riding the Critérium du Dauphiné, in which he did rather well by winning a stage and the points classification, and finishing on the third step of the podium. The stage was set for what was expected to be a close-run Tour between Evans and Bradley Wiggins. It was not to be, however, as Evans could not defend his title, finishing seventh in the race in July.
Tejay van Garderen did have a good Tour, however, by winning the best young rider jersey en route to fifth overall. And soon-to-be-retired George Hincapie was honoured by the peloton by being allowed to lead out the riders on the first lap of the Champs-Élysées first on the final Sunday. He also holds the record for completing the most Tours with 16, from 17 starts.
WorldTour ranking: 12th, 424 points.
- Tour de France: Egoi Martinez – 17th overall, 7th in stage 10, 3rd in stage 12. Gorka Izagirre – 39th overall, 5th in best young rider classification, 5th in stage 14, 3rd in stage 16.
- Tour de Pologne: Jon Izagirre – 7th overall, 9th in stage 6.
- Prueba Villafranca de Ordizia: Gorka Izagirre – winner.
- Vuelta a Burgos: Igor Anton – 9th overall, 3rd in stage 5. Gorka Verdugo – 13th overall.
After a great start to the season, Euskaltel have experienced a number of lows in the past month or so, most notably in the Tour de France where half the team, including defending mountains champion Samu Sanchez, crashed and exited injured. Samu, having briefly lost consciousness, was in tears as he realized the impact this would have on his team and his own ambitions both for the Tour and defending his Olympic crown. He’s well on the road to recovery and looking forward to the World Championships in late September on a course which perfectly suits him. Those riders remaining in the Tour did their best to animate and win stages with Egoi Martinez ultimately their best placed finisher at 17th overall.
Samu still accounts for most of the team’s UCI points (252 of 424) but Mikel Nieve, the Izagirre brothers, Martinez and Gorka Verdugo have also picked up points. They’ll now be looking to Igor Anton to add to that tally in the forthcoming Vuelta a Espana where he’s team leader with support from the French Basque pair of Pierre Cazaux and Romain Sicard, Miguel Minguez, Ivan Velasco, Amets Txurruka, Verdugo, Mikel Landa and Juan Jose Oroz.
The one piece of very good news is that the team has secured funding of €9m per annum for the next three years enabling it to retain the services of its key riders, such as Sanchez, Anton, the Izagirres and Nieve, and retain its WorldTour licence. Pro Cycling Team Basque, managed by Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, will take over the running of the team from the Euskadi Foundation. The team effectively will be boosted to 28 riders (currently 26) and, if necessary, they will take those of non-Basque origin. Carlos Barredo (Rabobank) and Dani Navarro (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) have been linked with a move to the new team. However, rest assured they will remain with their bright orange livery and we can still call them the ‘Carrots’.
WorldTour ranking: 17th, 173 points.
- National road race championships: Nacer Bouhanni – French national champion. Yauheni Hutarovich – Belarusian national champion.
- Tour de France: Thibaut Pinot – 10th overall, won stage 8, 2nd in best young rider classification. Pierrick Fedrigo – won stage 15.
- Tour de Wallonie: Nacer Bouhanni – won stage 1.
- Paris-Correze: Kenny Elissonde – won stage 2.
- Tour de l’Ain: Yauheni Hutarovich – won stages 1 & 2. Thibaut Pinot – won stage 5.
FDJ-BigMat have had an extraordinarily successful period since our last update, with the Tour de France a resounding success for Marc Madiot’s outfit. Not only has a new climbing star of the future been born in Thibaut Pinot, but another national favourite Pierrick Fedrigo delivered with a win on home turf. Pinot’s top ten finish sat alongside a memorable mountainous stage win, which culminated in Madiot yelling out of the team car, knowing that such a sponsor-pleasing success could guarantee his team’s future.
Speaking of young French talents, Nacer Bouhanni‘s quite astonishing season continued by taking the tricolore at the French national championships – a jersey he will proudly wear at the Vuelta later in the month. Bouhanni is only 22, but has had a resoundingly successful campaign this far, with a win on the opening stage of the recent Tour de Wallonie. His teammate Kenny Elissonde, one year his junior, will also have French mouths watering with a win at Paris-Correze.
Yauheni Hutarovich is comparably elderly at 28, but the sprinter has hit good form recently, collecting the Belarusian national road race title as well as a couple of wins at the ongoing Tour de l’Ain. 26-year-old Arnold Jeannesson will lead FDJ at the final Grand Tour of the year, and will be aiming for a high finish after a 14th place at last year’s Tour de France.
WorldTour team ranking: 8th, 486 points.
- Tour de France: Matt Goss – 2nd in stages 5 & 18, 3rd in stages 2, 6 & 20, 4th in stage 4, 3rd in points classification. Daryl Impey – 3rd in stage 14. Michael Albasini – 5th in stage 3.
- Tour de Pologne: Aidis Kruopis – won stage 4.
- Vuelta a Burgos: Simon Clarke – 2nd in stage 2, 3rd in stage 4. Allan Davis – 4th in stages 1 & 3.
- Eneco Tour: Won stage 2 team time trial. Svein Tuft – won stage 6 ITT, leads general classification going into today’s final stage.
It has been a disappointing couple of months for Orica-GreenEDGE. Targeting stage wins at the Tour de France through Matt Goss, the team’s lead sprinter registered five top three finishes but never really looked like claiming a victory despite GreenEDGE possessing the second-best sprint train on show (behind Lotto-Belisol). Third in the points competition, well adrift of Peter Sagan, was a flattering reflection of the performance of the 2011 Milan-San Remo winner as he watched key rivals Sagan, Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish take three stages apiece. Daryl Impey and Michael Albasini also registered top-five finishes, but this was a Tour to forget for the ambitious Australian squad.
Things have improved somewhat since. Lithuanian sprinter Aidis Kruopis sped to his third win of the year during the Tour of Poland, and he was also part of the winning team time trial squad at this week’s Eneco Tour. Canada’s Svein Tuft took yesterday’s individual time trial to catapult himself to the top of the general classification, although he is highly unlikely to retain it on today’s queen stage.
Overall though, GreenEDGE cannot be unhappy with a debut season which continues to see them in the top half of the team rankings, even if the heady days of spring which saw Simon Gerrans sit atop the individual standings are now but a fond and distant memory.For 2013, however, the team will undoubtedly look to bring on board riders who can help them compete more prominently for overall finishes at key stage races.