FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Team Astana, four months into the 2017 season, claimed its race win Monday. All 18 WorldTour teams now count at least one victory in their books. But why are the top teams winning, or not, so much?
For some like Astana, their stars have been waiting until the grand tours or injured, or both. Others star cyclists have been firing in their preferred classics. Many reasons go into one’s successful or dismal spring.
Teams’ riders are injured
Astana’s Italian star Fabio Aru traditionally takes time to reach top speed. His wins come in the three-week grand tours, so the team was banking on him for the upcoming Giro d’Italia. After hurting his knee in training, he called off his plans to race the Giro which celebrates its 100th edition with a start on his home island of Sardinia.
Michele Scarponi, 37 years old, gave Astana its first win in the Tour of the Alps (formerly Trentino) yesterday. “Up until now we’ve won little, nothing in fact,” Scarponi said. “Sometimes that’s how it goes, without reason, and this increases the chances of you losing morale.”
Cannondale-Drapac, also with only one win, took a blow losing Taylor Phinney and Sep Vanmarcke to crashes in the classics. Trek-Segafredo, at three wins, has been without its sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo since last year due to knee tendonitis.
Astana lost its big hitter Vincenzo Nibali over the winter when he went to start team Bahrain-Merida. When the Giro d’Italia begins, Astana will fill the pinch without Nibali and Aru, and Bahrain stands to gain.
Bora-Hansgrohe, however, invested massively in Peter Sagan and reaped the rewards. Sagan won three of the team’s four wins so far this season. The German team also brought in Leopold König, but instead of racing the Giro, he will sit on the bench with knee problems.
Riders improving, others waning
Some cyclists are improving while others are suffering for various reasons. Thanks to Italian Sonny Colbrelli, Bahrain-Merida counts three victories. Colbrelli successfully graduated to a WorldTour team this year, winning the icy cold Paris-Nice stage and the one-day Brabantse Pijl last week.
Norwegian Alexander Kristoff counts five wins early into 2017, but lacks the spark he showed in other years. In 2015, he had 11 by this point. It affects the bottom line in Russian team Katusha-Alpecin, which still counts only six wins.
Thanks to the sprinters
Sprinters bring home the most prizes traditionally, so one good one can make the difference in a team’s success. Quick Step leads the list with 24, which is largely thanks to the 13 wins from sprinters Marcel Kittel, Fernando Gaviria and Maximiliano Richeze. Caleb Ewan and Magnus Cort Nielsen brought in seven of Orica-Scott’s wins.
Some times you’re hot, sometimes not
Movistar can thank a red-hot 36-year-old Alejandro Valverde, who has fought his way to nine victories this spring. That haul includes the overall in WorldTour races Volta a Catalunya and País Vasco. Nairo Quintana‘s four wins helped bring the team’s tally up to 18.
In comparison to last spring, Dimension Data is not so hot. The team counts five, where they were winning around the world last year, nine times by this point, with Mark Cavendish, Edvald Boasson Hagan and Steve Cummings.
‘Tis the season
Fortunes change as do the races throughout the season. The classics men now enjoy success. Philippe Gilbert won four recent races to give Quick-Step Floors its 24 and Greg Van Avermaet four of BMC Racing’s 19. Next, the grand tour cyclists will have their turn in the Ardennes and Giro.
Expect Astana to keep improving. Last year, they placed fourth in the win tally for the 18 WorldTour teams. Cavendish should recover from mononucleosis by the Tour de France and help pull Dimension Data up.
2017 WorldTour teams win tally as of April 18
1. Quick-Step Floors 24
2. Movistar Team 18
3. BMC Racing Team 18
4. ORICA-Scott 16
6. Team Sky 8
7. FDJ 8
11. Lotto Soudal 7
12. Team Katusha-Alpecin 6
13. UAE Team Emirates 6
16. Dimension Data 5
17. LottoNL-Jumbo 5
22. Bora-Hansgrohe 4
28. Trek-Segafredo 3
29. Team Sunweb 3
32. Bahrain Merida 3
37. AG2R La Mondiale 2
58. Cannondale-Drapac 1
70. Astana Pro Team 1