MILAN (VN) — The Tour de France rolled to a stop Sunday in Paris, but only half of the teams in the race were able to celebrate a stage win.
Out of the 22 competing teams, 12 earned victories over the three weeks. German André Greipel gave Lotto-Soudal its fourth win Sunday evening on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
“It’s really important,” Trek Factory Racing general manager Luca Guercilena told VeloNews.
“We know all the visibility we can have by winning a stage in a grand tour like the Tour de France. We had the yellow jersey for one day, it would have been good to keep that for a few days, but in general, it’s really important to win a stage.”
Organizer ASO gives $8,780 to a rider for a stage win, but it is not so much the money that matters as it is the publicity.
The day after Romain Bardet won stage 18, French sports daily L’Equipe printed a photograph of him on the front page, both above and below the fold. Bardet’s value went up and French team Ag2r La Mondiale received a big bang for its sponsorship buck.
It was not just in the newspapers; Ag2r saw its name on the team’s brown and white jersey on television and all over the Internet. The message spread. The insurance company also has that winning image of 24-year-old Bardet to use as advertising for at least one year.
“It doesn’t make or break [the season],” LottoNL-Jumbo general manager Richard Plugge added.
“It depends on how well the rest of the Tour is going in terms of the GC. We have Robert Gesink competing well and in Holland, everyone is all over him, all the newspapers and networks. That’s maybe even better than one stage win and not being in the GC.”
Trek and LottoNL fill out the list of teams without wins alongside Movistar, Orica-GreenEdge, Europcar, Cannondale-Garmin, IAM Cycling, Bretagne-Séché Environnement, Cofidis, and Bora-Argon 18.
“We were second in three stages,” Cannondale-Garmin sport director Charly Wegelius said.
“We came really close. That’s cycling, you lose a lot more than you win. If we had turned those second places into wins, everyone would be calling us geniuses right now.”
Winning a stage in the Tour could carry even more weight for those five Pro Continental teams that received wildcard invitations to race from ASO. The other 17 teams, as part of the WorldTour, had automatic berths.
Of the five, only MTN-Qhubeka won a stage, thanks to Steve Cummings in Mende. Adding more weight to the win, he won for the South African sponsor on Nelson Mandela Day.
“They get less opportunities in bigger races, so for MTN to do it on Mandela day, that was incredible for them,” Orica sport director Matt White said.
“The teams that don’t do all the WorldTour races, or don’t have a chance to do all three grand tours, it’s probably a little more important for them to win.”
Before the start of stage 19, Bora’s Enrico Poitschke was forced to accept the standings as they were.
“We get the invitation to race, and they want us to make some attractive racing, to go into the breaks,” Poitschke said.
“We are not under pressure to win a stage, many big teams try it, and it’s not possible for everyone.”