Team profiles: Garmin Sharp, Movistar and Vacansoleil-DCM

Each of the VeloVoices will be following one of the 18 ProTeams during 2013, in addition to their three nominated riders. Today it’s the turn of Panache, Jack and Tim to unveil their selections.

Garmin Sharp (Panache)

Garmin-Sharp 20132012 WorldTour ranking: 9th, 762 pts.

2012 highlights:

  • Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Won by Sep Vanmarcke.
  • Giro d’Italia: Ryder Hesjedal 1st overall, won team time trial and team classification.
  • Tour de France: David Millar won one stage.
  • USA Pro Cycling Challenge: Christian Vande Velde 1st overall, Tyler Farrar won two stages, Tom Danielson won one stage.
  • Tour of Beijing: Dan Martin won mountains classification.

Five to watch:

  • Ryder Hesjedal (GC)
  • Andrew Talansky (GC)
  • Dan Martin (climber)
  • Nick Nuyens (Classics)
  • Johan Vansummeren (Classics)

Why I’m following them:

Over the last couple of years Garmin-Sharp have proved that you don’t have to have a ‘super-team’ budget to be a really super team. In 2011 they were victorious at Paris-Roubaix with crafty teamwork that allowed Johan Vansummeren to come into the Roubaix velodrome on a flat tyre with time to spare. Then they went on a successful stage-hunting campaign at the Tour de France. 2012 saw even greater success with Ryder Hesjedal claiming Garmin’s first Grand Tour victory and becoming the first Canadian ever to win the Giro d’Italia.  The team finished the year strongly with Christian Vande Velde edging out Levi Leiphiemer in the time trial on the final day of the US Pro Cycling Challenge to claim overall victory.

I’m following Garmin-Sharp because I want to see how they will up the ante and strive for even greater success. Can they focus after the media circus surrounding the USADA testimony of Vande Velde, David Zabriskie and manager Jonathan Vaughters? Will the addition of Nick Nuyens create a stealth Classics squad that contends with Omega Pharma-Quick Step? I hope the answer is yes to both and the team that has strived to be clean from doping will continue to be rewarded with good karma.

Website: http://www.slipstreamsports.com

Twitter: @ride_argyle

Movistar (Jack)

Stampa2012 WorldTour ranking: 5th, 952 pts.

2012 highlights:

  • Tour Down Under: Alejandro Valverde won one stage.
  • Paris-Nice: Alejandro Valverde won one stage.
  • Giro d’Italia: Francisco Ventoso and Andrey Amador won one stage each.
  • Critérium du Dauphiné: Nairo Quintana won one stage.
  • Tour de Suisse: Rui Costa 1st overall and won one stage.
  • Tour de France: Alejandro Valverde won one stage.
  • Vuelta a España: Alejandro Valverde 2nd overall, won two stage wins, won points and combination classifications. Won team time trial and overall team prize.

Five to watch:

  • Alejandro Valverde (GC)
  • Rui Costa (GC)
  • Nairo Quintana (climber)
  • Andrey Amador (climber)
  • Alex Dowsett (time-trialist)

Why I’m following them:

Movistar are one of the most interesting teams in the WorldTour, boasting a fine mix of youth and experience and with a roster jam-packed with potential. Aside from the veteran and undoubted team leader Alejandro Valverde – who surprised by having an excellent 2012 – they have bags of youthful talent, from the likes of Colombian climber Nairo Quintana to the slightly older Rui Costa and Benat Inxausti. This year, they even have a Brit on board, with Alex Dowsett jumping across from Sky in the hope of getting a Grand Tour ride.

While they don’t really have a rider you’d expect to win one of the big three races – despite Valverde finishing second at the Vuelta last year – they have numerous capable of winning shorter stage races and individual stages in the Grand Tours, as well as possible top ten finishes. Very much a climbers’ team, the arrivals of Eros Capecchi and Sylwester Szmyd will complement the aforementioned, and could make for a successful season in the mountains. 

Website: http://www.movistarteam.com

Twitter: @Movistar_Team

Vacansoleil-DCM (Tim)

Vacansoleil-DCM 20132012 WorldTour ranking: 16th, 364 pts.

2012 highlights:

  • Paris-Nice: Lieuwe Westra 2nd overall and won one stage. Gustav Larsson and Thomas De Gendt won one stage each. Frederik Veuchelen won mountains classification.
  • Volta a Catalunya: Tomasz Marczynski won sprint classification.
  • Giro d’Italia: Thomas De Gendt 3rd overall and one stage (Passo dello Stelvio).
  • Tour of Luxembourg: Wout Poels won one stage.
  • Tour of Poland: Tomasz Marczynski won mountains classification.
  • Paris-Tours: Won by Marco Marcato.

Five to watch:

  • Thomas De Gendt (GC)
  • Juan Antonio Flecha (Classics)
  • Johnny Hoogerland (Classics/breakaways)
  • Marco Marcato (sprinter)
  • Jose Rujano (climber)

Why I’m following them:

Vacansoleil are one of the peloton’s smallest teams in terms of budget but one of the largest in terms of heart. They are a squad packed full of attacking riders who can be relied upon to animate any race in pursuit of even a remote sniff of victory or, at the very least, valuable airtime for their sponsors. Their overall points haul last year was small, but they had a habit of making an impact in big races throughout the year, most notably Paris-Nice, the Giro (where Thomas De Gendt won the queen stage atop the Stelvio and claimed the bottom step of the podium) and the autumn Classic Paris-Tours.

For 2013, they should be stronger still with the arrival of both veteran Classics specialist Juan Antonio Flecha and climber Jose Rujano, a former Giro mountains classification winner. The former will be hoping to finally win Paris-Roubaix (in which he has finished in the top four in five of the past eight years), while the latter will target mountain stages and provide support for De Gendt in pursuit of stage race and Grand Tour honours. They probably still won’t win many races, but they will be there or thereabouts throughout the Classics and Grand Tours and they will be loads of fun to watch.

Website: http://www.vacansoleildcm.co.uk

Twitter: @VacansoleilDCM

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