At the beginning of the season, each member of the VeloVoices team selected one ProTeam to follow for the duration of 2012. Here’s our year-end update on how each squad fared over the closing months of the season.
WorldTour ranking: 7th, 917 points.
- Road World Championships: Philippe Gilbert 1st – Road Race; Taylor Phinney 2nd, Tejay van Garderen 4th – Individual Time Trial; second in Team Time Trial
- Vuelta a Espana: Philippe Gilbert – 1st, Stages 9 & 19; Steve Cummings – 1st Stage 13
- USA Pro Challenge: Tejay van Garderen, 2nd in GC, plus 1st Stage 2, 3rd Stage 4, 3rd Stage 7; Taylor Phinney – 2nd, Stage 5, 1st Stage 7.
- Tour of Utah: Johann Tschopp – 1st in GC, plus 1st Stage 5; Michael Schar – 2nd, Stage 3; Brent Bookwalter – 3rd, Stage 3.
- Eneco Tour: Taylor Phinney – 3rd stage 1, 2nd stage 6; Alessandro Ballan – 1st Stage 7
- GP Wallonie and GP Cycliste de Quebec: Greg van Avermaet – 2nd GC
- Binche-Tournai-Binche: Adam Blythe – 1st in GC
- Tour of Beijing: Steve Cummings – 1st Stage 5
- Chrono des Nations: Taylor Phinney – 3rd
Well, from an early season of not really meeting expectations that many had for this superteam, the last part of the team’s season saw the young guns of Taylor Phinney, Adam Blythe, Steve Cummings and Greg van Avermaet storming through their races, placing high in most of them.
But of course, the team scored biggest in the World Championships with Philippe Gilbert, finally returning to form in the Vuelta after a disappointing season, taking the rainbow jersey in the road race. Taylor Phinney has been going from strength to strength all season and earned a silver in the individual team time trial, narrowly missing the TT rainbow jersey by 5sec, and the team came 2nd in the team time trial.
Cadel Evans ends the season as the highest ranking rider in the team, at 24. George Hincapie retired this year, just after the Tour de France and before the publication of the USADA’s reasoned decision, which contained testimony from Hincapie on his use of performance-enhancing drugs during his time as teammate to Lance Armstrong.
And Tejay van Garderen – best young rider jersey in this year’s Tour de France – has extended his contract with BMC. DS John Lelangue had this to say about the up and coming rider:
“He was very regular for us all year – very good in time trials and climbing and someone who could also find his place in the peloton. So he has all the qualities to become a big tour winner in the future. That’s important for us. We’re already building a team around him.”
Next year, the team will again be under scrutiny, with the World Champion looking to dominate in the spring as he did last year and everyone looking for the return of Thor Hushovd and Cadel Evans to good form. Add to that, the young riders mentioned above hoping to ride to their potential – with Phinney targetting Paris-Roubaix – it should be an exciting year for BMC in 2013.
WorldTour ranking: 13th, 555 points.
- Clasica san Sebastian: Igor Anton – 11th.
- Vuelta a Espana: Igor Anton – 9th overall, 7th on stages 12 & 14. Romain Sicard – 5th on stage 20. Ruben Perez – 2nd on stage 15. Gorka Vedugo – 12th on stage 12. Second overall in team competition.
- Tour of Britain: Pablo Urtasun – won stage 7. Samuel Sanchez – 14th overall, 4th on stage 7.
- Road World Championships: 16th in team time trial.
- Gran Piemonte: Gorka Verdugo – 3rd.
- Il Lombardia: Samuel Sanchez – 2nd.
- Tour of Beijing: Ivan Velasco – 11th overall. Samuel Sanchez – 12th overall.
- Tour de Vendee: Ricardo Garcia – 16th. Romain Sicard – 18th.
The good news about the team having secured additional funding for the next four years has been tempered by the disappointing results and the untimely death of one of their young promising riders, Victor Cabedo, while out training. It will have been particularly painful for the team not to have secured even a stage win in their home Tour, the Vuelta, which spent a significant amount of time in the Basque country.
As usual, Samu Sanchez was the team’s top rider in the rankings. After a stellar start to the year, a terribly unlucky crash-riddled mid-part, and a moderately satisfying conclusion, the 34-year old finishes up ninth overall with 332 points, more than half of the squad’s 2012 haul. Just nine of the team’s riders scored WorldTour points, although this was a better spread than in previous years. The total points haul is better than last year’s and only 40 short of the 2010 mark – the year the team took a record 17 victories.
To be sure of getting a World Tour licence for 2013, the team have ended their stance of employing only riders who were either born or developed in the Basque country. Long-serving, faithful riders such as Amets Txurruka and Ivan Velasco have been let go. While Basques Jon Aberasturi and Garikoitz Bravo are joining as neo-pros, the team’s hunt for points and sprinter fire-power means they’ve hired an additional interesting mix of riders:
- Tarik Chaoufi (26) Moroccan – National team
- Jure Kocjan (28) Slovenian – Team Type 1
- Juan Jose Lobato (24) Spanish – Andalucia
- Ricardo Mestre (29) Portuese – Carmim-Prio
- Steffen Radochla (34) German – Team NSP-Ghost
- Andre Schulze (38) German – Team NetApp
- Alexander Serebryakov (25) Russian – Team Type 1
- Ioannis Tamouridis (32) Greek – SP Tableware
- Robert Vrecer (32) Slovenian – Vorarlberg
According to General Manager Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano at a recent press conference where the new riders were unveiled:
The objective with signing these foreigners is based on a strategic commitment to make Euskaltel-Euskadi stronger and more complete. They’re riders with UCI points, but they complement the other riders on the team. The signings will bring quality to some of our weaknesses: Classics and sprint finishes. The Classics are getting more important on the world calendar – and they’re races we haven’t been able to get good results in. As such, we’re missing out on a lot of big races and a lot of points. This is what we want to change in 2013.
Reality has forced us to sign riders who complement and strengthen the current roster in certain sections. Still, we’ve got 20 Basques against the 23 this year. We have more Basque cyclists in the team than in all other WorldTour teams combined. And we’d like to increase the number of Basques in the future. But if that is to happen, we need a team that wins more. These signings will make us more competitive. Cycling continues to evolve, and we must aspire to stay at the elite level.
WorldTour ranking: 18th, 246 points.
- Tour du Limousin: Jeremy Roy – won stage 4.
- Vattenfall Cyclassics: Arnaud Demare – 1st.
- Tour de l’Eurometropole: Nacer Bouhanni – won stage 4.
As the season has drawn to a close FDJ’s results on the bike have slowed too, with young French national champion Nacer Bouhanni unable to repeat his heroics of the early season with any real showing at the Vuelta a España, though he did pick up a stage win at the Tour de l’Eurometropole (formerly known as the Circuit Franco-Belge). Arnaud Demare picked up a rather more prestigious win at the annual one-day Classic in Hamburg, the Vattenfall Cyclassics, while Jeremy Roy won a stage at the Tour du Limousin.
As is inevitable at this stage in the year the attention is now beginning to focus on next season, and the comings and goings of riders. Fortunately, despite being the lowest-ranked team in the UCI WorldTour ranking FDJ already hold a licence to race at the top level through 2013, so Marc Madiot does have one less thing to worry about, though making signings to bolster the outfit’s position come this time next season must be a top priority.
There have been six confirmed arrivals already, with the most notable being Brazilian Murilo Fischer, a rouleur-cum-lead-out man with a fast finish. He arrives from Garmin-Sharp and could prove to be a shrewd signing and a strong rider for the breakaways. Young French climber Alexandre Geniez arrives from Argos-Shimano after a quiet 2012, though a fourth place at last year’s Critérium International is hopefully a sign of his potential. 22-year-old Johan Le Bon looks even more exciting and joins from Bretagne-Schuller, having been twice the national TT champion of France at junior level and 2008 Junior Road World Champion. Cyclocross specialist Emilian Viennet is another unknown quantity, while Laurents Mangel and Pichon arrive with much-needed experience.
This experience is needed as much due to departures as the new arrivals. Belarusian sprinter Yauheni Hutarovich leaves after years of loyal service to join AG2R, with fellow veterans Gabriel Rasch, Remi Pauriol, Arnaud Gerard, Steve Chainel and Dominique Rollin also departing.
WorldTour team ranking: 6th, 920 points.
- Eneco Tour: Won stage 2 team time trial. Svein Tuft – 7th overall, won stage 6 ITT. Luke Durbridge – 5th overall. Sebastian Langeveld – 9th overall.
- Clasica San Sebastian: Simon Gerrans – 2nd.
- Poitou Charentes: Luke Durbridge – 1st overall, won stage 4 ITT. Aidis Kruopis – won stages 1 & 2.
- GP Ouest France-Plouay: Matt Goss – 4th.
- Vuelta a Espana: Simon Clarke – won stage 4. Allan Davis – 2nd in stage 2, 3rd in stages 7 & 18. Cameron Meyer – 2nd in stage 13.
- GP Cycliste de Quebec: Simon Gerrans – 1st.
- GP Cycliste de Montreal: Simon Gerrans – 4th.
- Tour of Britain: Leigh Howard – 4th overall, won stage 2, 2nd in stages 3 & 4, 3rd in stage 4. Aidis Kruopis – 3rd in stage 3.
- Road World Championships: 3rd in team time trial.
A successful run of late season results saw Orica-GreenEDGE finish their debut season an impressive sixth in the WorldTour team rankings, despite not possessing a serious Grand Tour GC rider. Ahead of the Vuelta, three top ten placings and two stage wins at the Eneco Tour netted over 100 points. And while the Spanish Armada ruled at the Vuelta, the team would have been pleased with Simon Clarke‘s maiden pro win and three top-three finishes in the sprints for Allan Davis behind the unbeatable John Degenkolb.
Elsewhere, Luke Durbridge and Leigh Howard registered wins at Poitou Charentes and the Tour of Britain respectively, and third in the trade team time trial at the World Championships netted a hefty 140 points, but it was Simon Gerrans – the Tour Down Under winner and early WorldTour leader – who tore through the closing two months of the season. The Aussie finished second behind Luis Leon Sanchez at San Sebastian, then was first and fourth at the Quebec/Montreal Canadian double-header – a run of results which netted an impressive 180 points.
Overall, the team won four of the 29 WorldTour events – second in number only to Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Sky – courtesy of Michael Albasini‘s Volta a Catalunya victory and Gerrans’ hat-trick of the Tour Down Under, Milan-San Remo and GP Quebec. Not bad for a rookie squad!