Tour de France: Rating the Teams

Featured image courtesy of Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Who were the winners, and who flopped, in the 107th Tour de France?

AG2R La Mondiale.

Embed from Getty Images

A dismal General Classification (GC) campaign saw both French favourites Romain Bardet and Pierre Latour abandon, the former in worrying circumstances as it emerged that he had ridden much of stage 13 with a brain haemorrhage. He had been lying in fourth before dropping to eleventh; Bardet had a real chance of reaching the podium this year. They don’t leave the race with nothing however, Frenchman Nans Peters won the first serious mountain test on stage 8 to Loudenvielle. Benoit Cosnefroy also held the King of the Mountains (KOM) jersey for much of the race, but lost it on stage 17.

Rating: 3/5

Astana Pro Team.

Embed from Getty Images

With two stage wins, this was a fairly successful Tour for the Kazakh outfit. Alexey Lutsenko took stage six to Mont Aigoual, whilst Miguel Angel Lopez gave Columbian fans something to cheer about from this year’s Tour by outclimbing the other GC favourites to win stage 17 on the Col de la Loze. The squad will be disappointed that Lopez could not defend his third place overall on stage 20; a miserable time trial saw him plummet to sixth place. Nevertheless, this is still a notable achievement for the Tour debutant.

Rating: 4/5

Bahrain McLaren.

Embed from Getty Images

Basque rider Mikel Landa secured fourth place overall, his joint-best finish in the Tour alongside 2017. A painfully average TT ride on stage 20 and losing 20 seconds to Trek’s Richie Porte on stage 17, as well as 10 on stage 15, prevented him from achieving that elusive podium position. He can take encouragement from the strength of his team however, they appeared to be the only ones capable of challenging Jumbo-Visma in terms of numbers. It’s a shame Wout Poels crashed on the first stage, he would have been useful earlier on. Damiano Caruso also achieved 10th place, his best Tour result yet. A stage win was a realistic goal, but they failed on that front.

Rating: 3.5/5

B&B Hotels-Vital Concept.

Embed from Getty Images

It’s always tough for Pro-Continental outfits to compete for victories at the Tour, and this year was no exception for the French outfit, based around sprinter Bryan Coquard. He was consistent, achieving top-ten podium positions, but could not convert any into a victory. The closest he came was third on stage seven. Elsewhere, Pierre Rolland was active in mountain breakaways, but couldn’t do any better than winning the Combativity Award on stage 15, although he did finish second on stage 12. Quentin Pacher also rode aggressively, achieving three top-tens. An overall average performance from the Tour debutants.

Rating: 2/5

Bora-Hansgrohe.

Embed from Getty Images

It wasn’t to be for any of the team’s GC riders, with all still suffering from pre-Tour injuries sustained from the Criterium du Dauphiné and Il Lombardia. Their Points Classification challenge also failed; Peter Sagan was simply not on top form in this edition, and was a distant second to Sam Bennett in the fight for the green jersey. No stage win(s) for the Slovak this time around, the first time since the 2015 Tour he has failed to do so. Young German Lennard Kämna was able to rescue their Tour, and his aggression in the final week paid off with a victory on stage 16, to add to his stage win in the Dauphiné. One to keep a close eye on.

Rating: 3/5

CCC Team.

Embed from Getty Images

Whilst they were ever-present in breakaways, a stage win never materialised, as CCC had a low-key final Tour, assuming the team folds as predicted at the end of year. Ilnur Zakarin came close on stage eight, but his notoriously unreliable descending skills ultimately cost him. He abandoned on stage 12. Matteo Trentin was often visible in the sprints, finishing third in the points classification, but this year’s route wasn’t especially well-suited to him, or Greg Van Avermaet. A spirited performance, but ultimately they have nothing to show for it.

Rating: 2/5

Cofidis.

Embed from Getty Images

On paper they were well-placed to claim their first Tour stage win since 2006 with new signing Elia Viviani. He was almost nowhere to be seen however, and you’d be forgiven for forgetting he was in the race at all. Fourth on stage ten was the best he could manage, his win-less year continues. Viviani is yet another sprinter to have worsened since leaving QuickStep, although the strict lockdown measures in his native Italy surely played a part. Elsewhere, they will take some comfort from the success of young Guillaume Martin. He finished 11th overall, after falling from third having weakened towards the end of the race. Another one to watch in the future.

Rating: 2.5/5

Deceuninck-Quick Step.

Embed from Getty Images

Always successful at the Tour, the Belgian outfit took three stages courtesy of Sam Bennett and Julian Alaphilippe. Bennett also took the green jersey thanks to his consistency in the intermediate sprints. Alaphilippe took an emotional victory in Nice on stage two, dedicating it to his late father. He might have expected a little more, he looked weak in the third week and was frequently dropped from breakaways. He was nowhere near the thick-end of the GC action either, unlike last year when he was fifth overall. Zdenek Stybar and Bob Jungels might have been wanting their own glory as well, but three stage wins is hardly a failure.

Rating: 4/5

EF Pro Cycling.

Embed from Getty Images

A mixed bag for the American squad. Coming into the race they had three riders capable of challenging for a high GC placing in Sergio Higuita, Rigoberto Uran, and Dauphiné winner Dani Martinez. Higuita never looked in good form, and eventually crashed out on stage 15. Uran was in third place coming into the final week, but failed to sustain his form to the end of the race, losing time on stages 18 and 20 to put him eighth overall. Martinez compensated for their failed GC campaign with a win on stage 13. Neilson Powless and Alberto Bettiol were also frequently present in breakaways. With no stage victories since 2017, they can be fairly happy with their results.

Rating: 3.5/5

Groupama-FDJ.

Embed from Getty Images

Once again, Thibaut Pinot cracked and shed a huge chunk of time to put him out of GC contention as early as stage eight. He has since hinted that his GC days are over. That set the tone for the remainder of the race for the French team, Rudy Molard abandoned on stage 16 and at no point did any of their other riders look capable of challenging for a stage win. They were only ever visible thanks to Sébastien Reichenbach’s striking Swiss national champion jersey (which did manage third on stage 16). Leaving in-form sprinter Arnaud Démare at home proved to be a huge mistake.

Rating: 1/5

Israel Start-Up Nation.

Embed from Getty Images

Little was expected of Tour debutants ISN. They hardly had any impact on the GC, or indeed any stages. Dan Martin had a dreadful Tour, finishing 41st overall and never finishing stage higher than 11th; a broken sacrum at the Dauphiné hampered his race. André Greipel was largely absent from sprint finishes, barring a sixth place on stage ten. His stage-winning days seem over. Hugo Hofstetter managed top-tens on stages three, five, seven, 11 and 21; the Frenchman was the only consistent performer in a debut Tour to forget. Next year will see a completely different look to the team, as they welcome Chris Froome in his attempt for a record-equalling fifth title.

Rating: 2/5

Lotto-Soudal.

Embed from Getty Images

The Belgian squad could not have got off to a worse start than on stage one, when John Degenkolb finished outside of the time cut, and Philippe Gilbert was forced to abandon prior to stage two with a broken kneecap. They were able to regather themselves however, and delivered Australian Caleb Ewan to two stage wins. He wasn’t quite as dominant as in last year’s race, perhaps hindered by the loss of Degenkolb as his final lead-out man, but he won’t be disappointed with his results. Thomas de Gendt was aggressive as usual, but was unable to match the stronger climbers in mountain breakaways.

Rating: 3.5/5

Mitchelton-Scott.

Embed from Getty Images

Adam Yates’s spell in the yellow jersey will be the highlight for the Australian team, who last wore the maillot jaune in 2013 with Daryl Impey. Yates was never quite able to match the pace of the other GC contenders however, and could only hold the jersey from stage five to nine. It was a quiet Tour from then on; Yates eventually had to settle for ninth overall. Basque climber Mikel Nieve abandoned; he is usually a good pick for a mountain stage win. Luka Mezgec sprinted to second on stages 14 and 19, which were the only other highlights for the team.

Rating: 3/5

Movistar Team.

Embed from Getty Images

It’s hard to define Movistar’s performance in this year’s Tour. Perhaps a ‘could do better’ for the Spanish squad, whose relationship with the Tour has been a rocky one. After an inauspicious start, Enric Mas eventually snuck into fifth place, thanks to a strong third week and a surprisingly good time trial. Elsewhere, it looks like Alejandro Valverde’s best days are finally behind him (he is 40, bare in mind), whilst Marc Soler proved hugely disappointing, finishing only 21st overall. The ‘Trident’ strategy yielded little, barring yet another Team Classification victory. The team seemed to lack focus somewhat, having lost Landa and Quintana to other teams. The lack of a stage victory will also be a huge disappointment; Movistar have just one win in 2020.

Rating: 2.5/5

NTT Pro Cycling Team.

Embed from Getty Images

A team that lacked coherence, NTT (formerly Dimension Data) were largely invisible throughout the Tour. The abandon of Giacomo Nizzolo was frustrating; he finished third on stage one and would have fancied his chances in the remaining sprints. The remaining sprinters were simply unable to match the power of Ewan and Bennett, whilst Domenico Pozzovivo also abandoned, eliminating any chance of a mountain stage victory. The likes of Michael Valgren and Roman Kreuziger looked like mere shadows of their former selves.

Rating: 1/5

Team Arkea-Samsic.

Embed from Getty Images

Until stage 15, it looked like Nairo Quintana was finally rolling back the years and in a great position to challenge for the Tour podium. However, he succumbed to injuries from the same crash that ended Bardet’s Tour, and was dropped early on the Grand Colombier alongside compatriot Egan Bernal. They achieved nothing of note, and Frenchman Warren Barguil could not recapture the form that saw him win two stages in 2017. The news that the team are being investigated for a potential doping violation makes this a dreadful start to Quintana’s career with Arkea.

Rating: 1/5

Team Ineos-Grenadiers.

Embed from Getty Images

Having won seven of the previous eight editions of the Tour prior to 2020, anything less than another yellow jersey on the shoulders of Egan Bernal would prove to be a disappointment. Indeed, it turned out to be worse than mere disappointment: Bernal completely collapsed on stage 15 and abandoned prior to stage 17. Bernal just did not have the same smoothness that saw him fly up the Alpine climbs last year, and visibly struggled to match any attacks from other GC contenders. The team as a unit also looked weak; they never looked capable of challenging the stranglehold on the peloton that Jumbo-Visma held. Their ended ended on a more positive note though; Michal Kwiatkowski finally took a Grand Tour stage victory on stage 18.

Rating: 2/5

Team Jumbo-Visma.

Embed from Getty Images

Such was the Dutch outfit’s control on the race from the start, many assumed the GC was finished as soon as Primož Roglič won stage four’s uphill test to Orcières-Merlette. From then on, there never appeared to be any danger of the Slovenian losing his lead, despite the ever-aggressive Tadej Pogacar beating him on stages nine and 15. Roglič seemed to have all-but secured victory when he finally outclimbed Pogacar on stage 17’s summit finish on the Col de la Loze. With a time trial to come, Roglič was expected to cruise to victory in his favoured discipline. He would never have predicted that Pogacar would put in one of the performances of the decade, overturning a 57-second deficit into a 59-second lead. Still, three stage wins (two from superstar all-rounder Wout Van Aert) gives them something to cheer about.

Rating: 3.5/5

Team Sunweb.

Embed from Getty Images

I wrongly thought before the race that Sunweb would struggle to feature on any stages, with what appeared to be a fairly muddled roster with no GC options. Immediately I was proved wrong with Marc Hirschi’s narrow second place on stage 2, followed by a heart-breaking defeat on stage nine when he was caught just kilometres from the finish and then outsprinted by a select GC group. His perseverance finally paid off on stage 12, taking a solo win into Sarran. Dane Søren Kragh Andersen took two breakaway stage wins, one on stage 19 where he caught an elite sprinters’ group napping on a lumpy finish into Champagnole. His win on stage 14 was a tactical masterclass from Sunweb, who used several riders to shut down every attack on the final climb, leaving Andersen to attack over the top.

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Direct Energie.

Embed from Getty Images

With 2017 stage-winner Lilian Calmejane abandoning early on, it was always going to be tough for the French Pro-Continental Team to notch up a victory. Sprinter Niccolò Bonifazio underperformed after a good start to 2020, faring no better than tenth on stage three. Fabien Grellier took the KOM jersey on the first stage, but couldn’t defend it for any longer. As always, they animated nearly every breakaway out there, but nothing ever came of it.

Rating: 2/5

Trek-Segafredo.

Embed from Getty Images

Whilst not looking too strong on paper, Trek can be more than happy with their third place on GC with Australian Richie Porte, his best-ever result in a Grand Tour after several leadership roles blighted by crashes and bad luck, and the best finish by an Australian rider since Cadel Evans won in 2011. All the more impressive that he lost 81 seconds to the other GC favourites on stage seven’s crosswind chaos. One of the best time trials of Porte’s career sealed the deal. World Champion Mads Pedersen was always there or thereabouts, with two second places and two more top-tens; he’ll be a little disappointed he couldn’t turn any of these into a victory

Rating: 4/5

UAE Team Emirates.

Embed from Getty Images

After a somewhat surprising victory on the first stage for Alexander Kristoff, UAE would never have predicted that it would only get better from there. Tadej Pogacar first announced his intentions on stage eight, taking nearly 40 seconds from the other GC favourites. He followed this up with a stage win the next day, followed by yet another on the Grand Colombier on stage 15. He lost time on stage 17, and everyone assumed that the race was now firmly in Roglič’s grasp. They assumed wrong, and a career-defining ride in the final time trial shocked the cycling world, taking nearly two minutes out of Roglič and becoming the youngest winner of the Tour since 1904.

Rating: 5/5

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.