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Season preview: 11 top teams

Welcome to the VeloNews 2017 WorldTour fan guide. It’s tough to be a cycling fan. Riders jump around more than a loose cassette. Teams change kits like Sven Nys swaps bikes in a muddy ’cross race. So, here’s a guide to 11 of the most interesting teams.

Bora – Hansgrohe

Sorry Rafal Majka, everybody knows that the top star on Bora – Hansgrohe is Peter Sagan. Photo: VeloImages/BORA Hansgrohe
Sorry Rafal Majka, everybody knows that the top star on Bora – Hansgrohe is Peter Sagan. Photo: VeloImages/BORA Hansgrohe

We like this team because we’re ready to welcome zee Germans back to cycling with a hug and a steaming plate of wienerschnitzel. It’s time they moved on from Big Jan and the Telekom pink train. Plus, any team that attracts companies that make kitchen products and faucets into cycling’s sponsorship market is OK on our end.

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Team Sky

In Sky's eternal quest for marginal gains, Chris Froome went to the Japan Cup to test out new apparel. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
In Sky’s eternal quest for marginal gains, Chris Froome went to the Japan Cup to test out new apparel. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Sky as a whole will always be saddled by its reputation as cycling’s boring team of watts-crunching robots that snuffs out fun attacks. Yeah, we know it’s a basic take, but we hate a boring Tour. And yeah, Sky also lost beaucoup brownie points in 2016 after the whole Bradley Wiggins/TUE debacle. So long as Wout Poels isn’t revealed to be a runaway robot host from “Westworld,” Sky is still OK in our book.

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Cannondale – Drapac

If you leave up your Christmas lights year-round, Cannondale – Drapac might be your new favorite team. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com
If you leave up your Christmas lights year-round, Cannondale – Drapac might be your new favorite team. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

You can’t help but root for the underdog, and Cannondale — Drapac wins all of the underdog points. For 2017 the team is reported to have the smallest budget in the entire WorldTour. That’s why we’ll never be able to quit you, Cannondale — Drapac, even if you promise a breakthrough season and then come up short.

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Astana

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Vino’s shadow will always cloud Astana in a dark shade of shady, and that’s why we’ve docked major points in this department. Astana is like Cobra Kai, the Syracuse Bulldogs, and Ivan Drago rolled into one. And yeah, Vino never did learn how to keep his helmet from riding way up on his forehead like a Cat 5.

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Quick-Step Floors

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Exciting, attacking riders like Brambilla and Petr Vakoc score points for the casual fan. Boonen, as we said, is a superstar — you know it; we know it. Everyone knows it. But Quick-Step gets docked major points for being the New York Yankees of the northern classics.

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UAE Abu Dhabi

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

UAE Abu Dhabi has a lot of really obscure guys that are hard to root for because, well, who are they? Manuele Mori? Simone Consonni? Simone Petilli? Are these guys extras from “The Godfather?” We will cheer for Atapuma and Meintjes, both of whom are likable as up-and-comers. And Ben Swift has an awesome last name for a cyclist, or any sort of athlete really.

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Bahrain – Merida

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

We like Nibali and the team’s kit looks really sharp. But the bad vibes surrounding this team’s ownership are too extreme to shake. Human rights violations? That’s a whole new level of bad for cycling.

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Trek – Segafredo

Alberto Contador bolsters Trek – Segafredo's roster for 2017. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Alberto Contador bolsters Trek – Segafredo’s roster for 2017. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Contador will always attract controversy. His aggressive racing style is always enjoyable. His history with the Spanish mystery meat and the disqualified 2010 Tour and 2011 Giro titles will always raise hackles for some. It’s complicated. It’s cycling.

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Dimension Data

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Based on a (not) scientific poll of our Facebook followers, about half of the cycling universe hates Cav. True, the team does have some likable guys like American Ben King, Cummings, and Eisel. And of course, Morton will appeal to the normcore bike touring audience.

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BMC Racing

Your New Favorite Team: BMC

2017 appears to be a year to cheer for BMC. Van Avermaet can rival Sagan, Porte is the only grand tour rider who can derail Froome, and van Garderen has taken on a new challenge. Scrappy underdogs (who enjoy luxury Swiss watches) unite!

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Movistar

Photo: Movistar
Photo: Movistar

Purely based on racing merit, it’s hard to dislike Movistar — Quintana attacks with ferocity and style in the grand tour mountains; Valverde unleashes an astounding kick at the finish of hilly one-day classics. Maybe the problem is our rudimentary Spanish, but Movistar seems to lack some personality.

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