As the 2016 season draws to a close, we find Team Movistar at the top of the cycling WorldTour leaderboards. With high-caliber team members like Nairo Quintana in their ranks, it is hardly surprising to see them emerging victorious over Team Sky and all other competitors.
During the 2015 and 2016 Tour de France, team Movistar finished first in the teams’ classification by 8′ 14″ over Team Sky. Quintana made the podium by finishing third in the overall individual classifications and Ion Izagirre claimed victory on stage 20. There is little argument to suggest that Movistar will be taken from their perch any time soon.
If there is to be a challenge to Team Movistar’s reign, it will most likely emerge in the form of Team Sky, who sit third in the overall rankings behind Tinkoff.
Despite the team only being founded in 1998, in the 2008 Tour de France, Carlos Sastre won the general classification, Andy Schleck won the young rider classification, and the team won the overall team classification. Many people feel that Tinkoff have underperformed ever since and so they will be desperate to prove they still have the mental strength to overcome Movistar and Team Sky.
Team Sky have shot to fame in recent years; with a rider within their ranks winning the Tour de France for the last three years. The British-based team are therefore renowned for their individual achievements but, as a unit, have not always done enough to prove that they can topple Movistar.
The collective that have risen through the ranks this annum is BMC Racing. This is heavily down to their riders’ successes in the individual time trial events as seven of their last twelve world champions have come from such races. New addition Richie Porte has enjoyed large success in his first year at BMC; being 1st in the UCI World Rankings for a week and coming 5th overall at this year’s Tour de France.
Fifth in the team rankings are Orica-Bike Exchange who, after launching in 2011, ride ‘Scott bikes’ and have great financial backing from Aussie entrepreneur Gerry Ryan. In June 2016, ahead of the 2016 Tour de France the team announced BikeExchange, an Australian cycling retailer, was stepping up as a title sponsor of the team. Team owner, Gerry Ryan, had previously sought to secure further sponsorship after Orica announced they would stop sponsoring the team after the 2017 season.
Team Katusha, Russia’s second representatives in the top six, was launched just seven years ago. However, with a huge budget topping €32 million, the team’s potential is enormous. Katusha is a team burdened with doping names. In spring 2009, Christian Pfannberger and Antonio Colom were found guilty of using EPO; the former was banned for life. But if the team can come clean, they have the potential do to huge things in the coming years.
Belgium’s sole representatives in the top ten are Etixx-Quick-Step, who are led by Patrick Lefévère. Just a year post-formation in 2004, team member Paolo Bettini retained the UCI Road World Cup, and became Olympic Champion in the same year. Since the late noughties, no rider within the team has had much to boast about titles-wise, but as a unit, they are a dark horse and are not to be overlooked lightly.
Teams Cannondale-Drapac, Trek and Astana make up the top ten and have all had a relatively successful year. Between the 2009 and 2016 UCI World Tours, Cannondale are the most successful of the three; finishing inside the top ten, five times. And in the last eight years, the team claimed twenty Grand Tour stages – seven in the Giro d’Italia, seven in the Tour de France, and six in the Vuelta a España.
For the 2017 season, Trek have revealed the signatures of five world-class riders. Alberto Contador, John Degenkolb (until 2019), Koen de Kort (until 2018), Jarlinson Pantano and Ivan Basso. Trek have certainly laid down a gauntlet for themselves now, and with Contador leading the charge, next year could be one of huge significance.
Standings from the WorldTour Ranking Teams:
1. Movistar (Spain) 1471
2. Tinkoff (Russia) 1361
3. Team Sky (Britain) 1187
4. BMC Racing (United States) 1128
5. Orica (Australia) 909
6. Katusha (Russia) 789
7. Etixx – Quick-Step (Belgium) 775
8. Cannondale (United States) 616
9. Trek (United States) 565
10. Astana (Kazakhstan) 539
11. FDJ (France) 516
12. LottoNL (Netherlands) 506
13. AG2R (France) 482
14. Lotto (Belgium) 463
15. Lampre (Italy) 442
16. Giant (Germany) 435
17. IAM Cycling (Switzerland) 418
18. Dimension Data (South Africa) 290
It’s been another exciting year in Cycling, but what has been your standout moment? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below…