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Giro d'Italia report cards for all 22 teams

Because why not. Giro comedown week ends for me with a rundown of each team's performance, based on (what I feel to be) a logical assessment of their pre-Giro goals.

Ag2r-La Mondiale

Goals entering Giro: Darkhorse GC contention (Gadret), possible sprint aspirations (Belletti).

Execution: Ehhh. Gadret rarely featured. He lost copious time in the prologue and in Ag2r's brutal team time trial, both of which were to be expected, but it's not as if his Giro was one of incompetence. He lay a reasonable 2'55" back (just about all of it coming from the two time trials) on the eve of the race's first true mountain stage, in 31st place. He finished with or very near to the race elite on every stage. Only on stage 17 (Cortina d'Ampezzo), stage 19 (Alpe di Pampeago) and stage 20 (Passo dello Stelvio) did he lose contact with the race elite, but few riders finished those stages together at all. The last-day time trial went poorly even by Gadret's standards, losing a possible top-10 finish and leaving him 11th. This is still his second-best overall Grand Tour placement for his career (next best: 13th in the '10 Giro).

Belletti finished in the top ten in four stages, but that's not much to hang your hat on as a sprinter. He did not complete the Giro, pulling out during stage 15.

Final Grade: C. It's difficult to point the finger and say they did anything wrong... but frankly it's a little difficult to say they did anything at all.

Androni Giocattoli

Goals entering Giro: GC hopeful (Rujano), sprint hopeful (Ferrari)

Execution: Pretty meager. Did anyone ever even see Rujano during the race? I mean literally - did the television cameras ever actually catch him? Even his own team boss called him out for his lack of performance. After being arguably the second-best pure climber on the road in last year's Giro, Rujano failed to so much as complete the race this year, pulling out during stage 19 while lying 37th overall, 42 minutes off the pace. You don't need me to tell you about Ferrari. While he did also provide a stage win, and I'll stop short of suggesting it was tainted or undeserved, I have to wonder how much spark his rivals may have had at the end of a nearly seven-hour day in the saddle had they not literally fallen by the wayside because of him days earlier.

Final Grade: D-plus. Rujano was an abject disaster. Maybe others feel Ferrari's stage win improves their showing somewhat, but I'm still left underwhelmed.

Astana

Goals entering Giro: GC hopeful (Kreuziger), possible stage hunting (Gasparotto, others)

Execution: Ebb and flow. For 16 stages, Astana looked like worldbeaters, having two riders within the top ten ever since Paolo Tiralongo's classy win at Rocca di Cambio in stage 7, and two within the top five the night of stage 16. But oh, then stage 17 happened. Tiralongo saved a little face by losing contact only on the final climb, finishing the day 17th and remaining 8th overall, but Kreuziger had what can only be described as one of the worst days of his career (at least in terms of impact, if not sheer results) by dropping 11 and a half minutes and losing any potential hope at overall contention. He rebounded to take the victory in stage 19, though it apparently didn't mean a great deal to him and it also marked the day that Tiralongo fell as well, dropping 18 minutes to his teammate to fall to 21st overall. Kreuziger, noticeably soft-pedaling the stage 21 time trial, finished the Giro 15th, and Tiralongo 23rd, which probably would have sounded like a perfectly acceptable result before the Giro happened.

Final Grade: C-plus. They got their stage win, and then one, even though Kreuziger and team boss Giuseppe Martinelli both downplayed the second. Kreuziger's Giro underscores the old truism that one bad day can do an otherwise strong rider in (he lost 11'26" in stage 17 and finished the Giro 19'58" back. If he gives an honest effort in the ITT, that's easily a top-ten performance, even discounting what may have happened in stages 18 and 20). And they did look like worldbeaters for two weeks and two days...but Grand Tours last for three weeks.

BMC Racing Team

Goals entering Giro: Time trials (Phinney, Pinotti, perhaps the TTT), darkhorse GC contention (Pinotti), slim chance at sprints (Phinney)

Execution: Nearly as well as could be expected. Taylor Phinney's 9-second margin of victory in the don't-call-it-a-prologue was the biggest time gap between one rider and the next in the entire classification. Phinney was the most visible victim of the stage 3 pileup, and it showed in the team time trial two days later as BMC lost the pink jersey. They rode in staunch support of Phinney on the stage, not leaving the maglia rosa behind in order to gain a few extra seconds for Pinotti. It was a very respectful thing to do, and as it turned out, those extra seconds wouldn't have mattered. Pinotti lost time here and there, including a minute on stage 8, before blowing up completely in stage 17, dropping 34 minutes. No doubt saving his legs for the final time trial, he hemorrhaged time the next three days, eventually finishing 41st. Winning that time trial provided a very nice bookend for the team.

Final Grade: B-plus. Pinotti was never going to win the Giro, but make no mistake, his GC is a disappointment. This is a man who's been top-10 in the Giro before. But if losing out on marginal GC contention is the only thing to hold against them...they did pretty darn well.

Colnago-CSF Inox

Goals entering Giro: Darkhorse GC contention (Pozzovivo), possible stagehunting (who knows), sheer entertainment (Pirazzi)

Execution: Again, things pretty much went according to the script. Pozzovivo lost copious time in the first time trial and Colnago's 19th place in the TTT did him no favors, but it's tough to point to any other day when anything went straight-up wrong for him. Oh sure, there were what seemed to be missed opportunities, but much like Pinotti, Pozzovivo was never going to win the Giro, so there's only so much you can rue missing out on possibly finishing 7th rather than 8th. Pozzovivo's stage win to Lago Laceno on stage 8 was some strong, strong stuff, and it established him as a legitimate player, at least at this Giro. And Pirazzi was definitely his usual entertaining self, but he also showed some real old-school guts and determination on the Pampeago stage with a very nice ninth place ride on the day. Gianluca Brambilla established himself as a solid if not imposing mountain domestique, so expect him to be wearing either metallic green or pink and purple at this time next year.

Final Grade: A-minus. I come away wishing Pozzovivo could have done a little more in the high mountains, but that's about the only thing I can say against Colnago's Giro.

Euskaltel-Euskadi

Goals entering Giro: Possible GC contention (Nieve), stage hunting (as always)

Execution: Solid, if unremarkable. Nothing unexpected can be said about the time trials for this team - indeed, Nieve lay 155th overall after stage 4. Through a remarkably anonymous Giro, Nieve had risen to 18th overall after stage 16. The day after the second rest day, our boys in orange got their stage win with young Jon Izagirre, a rider about whom not much was known (among those of us who aren't Basque superfans). This bizarre stage, branded medium-mountain without any categorized climbs (yet it had an uphill finish), perfectly suited the breakaway and Euskaltel was the logical team to come from it. Nieve had his best ride on the Stelvio, beating the gruppo maglia rosa to the line and occupying ninth overall. Greater time trial losses by Gadret meant he preserved this skin-of-his-teeth top-10 finish. When you account for disqualifications, it is the fourth consecutive Grand Tour Nieve has finished 10th overall ('10 Vuelta {Mosquera and Garcia Dapena disqualified}, '11 Giro, '11 Vuelta, '12 Giro).

Final Grade: B. No one can honestly say they were expecting a great deal of this team in the Giro - their big races are later in the season. Perhaps Nieve could have done a bit better...but not much.

Farnese Vini-Selle Italia

Goals entering Giro: Sprints (Guardini), selective sprints (Pozzato, Gatto)

Execution: Of those goals? Decent. Guardini was caught behind the stage 2 crash and couldn't contest the sprint, and finished just 10th in stage 3. The only other time he featured in a sprint at all....was when he beat freakin' Cavendish at the line in stage 18. Granted, the field was thinned a bit by this stage being so late in a GT, but still...he beat Cavendish. Straight-up. That...does not happen very often. Neither Pozzato nor Gatto featured at any time, the former not even completing (half) the race.

But we, of course, were introduced to a new face in this Giro - second-year pro Matteo Rabottini. I don't know, maybe he thought he could win the KOM coming into this race, but if you find any writer or pundit who says they predicted it, you've found a liar. Time will tell if this truly signals his "arrival," but I'm bullish on his chances, considering this was the first Grand Tour in recent memory where the KOM winner had actual, honest-to-goodness climbing chops, and it wasn't just King of the Breakaways. The stage win sure doesn't hurt that assessment.

Final Grade: A. It's disappointing that Pozzato and Gatto did nothing, but Rabottini sure makes up for it. He's definitely the tifosi's star of the Giro (though that has more to do with a different pair of veteran Italians not performing as expected).

FDJ-BigMat

Goals entering Giro: Sprints (Démare), breakaway representation (most everyone), stretching the legs for July

Execution: Talk about a team that wouldn't have been there if not for UCI rules obligating them to be invited and attend. Démare finished within the top ten in four Giro sprints, though he topped out at fourth place in the reduced sprint in stage 3. He's young yet, and the experience will surely pay dividends. When a breakaway won the day on stage 11, Sandy Casar suddenly found himself lying third overall. He remained in the top ten for six days, but nothing really came of this, as he finished the race in 25th place.

Final Grade: C-minus. Even more so than their compatriots Ag2r, FDJ really was quite invisible in this Giro. Yet you can't really say they failed at anything they set out to do.

Garmin-Barracuda

Goals entering Giro: GC (Hesjedal or VandeVelde), sprints (Farrar), team time trial (as always), individual time trials (Rasmussen, Navardauskas, Rosseler, Hesjedal, Bauer, or VandeVelde)

Execution: Um, you did watch the race, didn't you? Hesjedal lifting the Trofeo Senza Fine over his head is gonna be one of my favorite images of this year, I think. Rasmussen narrowly missed taking the first pink jersey ever awarded in his home nation, taking third on stage 1. Navardauskas was well-placed as well, and with Rasmussen surprisingly losing the pace in the TTT it was he who took the pink jersey from Phinney after Garmin's widely expected (but much closer than expected) win in the TTT. Hesjedal never faltered - he was 4th overall after the TTT, 3rd overall the next day, took the jersey on stage 7, and never again went lower than 2nd after any day of racing. He says he first felt he could win the race overall that day he first took the jersey, and the team's effort from that point was sterling. Hesjedal's wits put him over the top. He never won a stage, but without the additional time he claimed in late attacks off the front in stages 14 and 19, he doesn't win this Giro.

Oh, and Farrar was there, too. Who knew?

Final Grade: A-plus. Can it really be anything else?

Team Katusha

Goals entering Giro: GC (Rodriguez)

Execution: The best it's ever gone for him. I don't know if anyone, before this Giro, ever thought Rodriguez could ever really be a Grand Tour winner. I mean, really really. Everyone knows the boy can climb, but ohhh, lord, the time trial. He also carried a reputation of having one bad day in the extremely high mountains where he might drop a minute or three or five.

None of that proved to be a problem in this Giro. Oh, sure, Rodriguez will never be mistaken for a time trial specialist, but it is no longer the gaping hole in his game that it once was. Even before Katusha's jaw-dropping second in the TTT, only five seconds the lesser of Garmin freaking Barracuda, Rodriguez was a perfectly reasonable 43 seconds off the pace in stage 1, only four seconds the lesser of Basso and 23 the better of Scarponi (the riders likely thought to be his primary competition coming into the Giro - for reference, he was 14 seconds the lesser of Hesjedal and 11 the lesser of De Gendt). In past years, the situation Rodriguez had entering a final day time trial would have left us seriously questioning whether he would even remain on the final podium, or perhaps even within the final top five, let alone winning. Even on that final stage, Rodriguez was a not-at-all-horrible 26th, ceding less than a minute to his rivals. One wonders if he now wistfully looks at the course seeing where he might perhaps have taken that minute. Oh, what could have been. But while his dreams were pink, the red jersey has to be a very nice consolation prize.

And I didn't even his mention his two stage wins.

Final Grade: A. When 16 seconds are all that separates you from the pinnacle achievement of your career...you've done well. It's perhaps the pinnacle achievement of his career anyway.

Lampre-ISD

Goals entering Giro: GC ("defending champion" Scarponi, Cunego if he were to falter)

Execution: Lackluster. Scarponi was always there, and maybe he occasionally featured off the front, but did anyone at any time feel he was a legitimate threat to win the race overall? Cunego arguably had a better Giro, sitting top-ten overall despite pretty obviously not being his team's top man, and then finding his way into the right breakaway on the Stelvio to move up to sixth, with such a time cushion that the last day time trial posed no threat to that position.

Final Grade: C-minus. Adriano Malori's day in the pink jersey, which appears to be the first for the Lampre franchise since Gilberto Simoni won the Giro in 2001, provided some nice memories. (When Cunego won the Giro in 2004, it was for Saeco, which merged into Lampre...surely Lance Armstrong's old team doesn't have lineage with Andy Schleck's current one?) And having two riders in the top ten is nothing to sneeze at. But on the whole, Lampre's Giro has to be considered a disappointment as they were never realistic overall players.

Liquigas-Cannondale

Goals entering Giro: GC (Basso), stomp the Stelvio (Basso)

Execution: Just like their paisan above, lackluster. Things were looking okay at the halfway point. Basso was within a minute, and Caruso and Capecchi were right there with him in the classification. And Szmyd was still Szmyd. But it just never really came together. Basso reached his high-water mark of third overall after stage 15, and try as they might (and did) they just couldn't seize control of any of the particularly important mountain stages. Basso lost his podium position on the Pampeago, dropping 20 seconds to Scarponi, but that was a mere portend of the disappointment the Stelvio brought. Basso lost five minutes to De Gendt and roughly a minute and a half to all other top overall riders on the day that some (myself included) thought would favor him more than anyone.

Final Grade: D. May seem harsh, but they come away with nothing from this Giro except a sorely disappointing fifth overall.

Lotto-Belisol

Goals entering Giro: Stage hunting (Meersman)

Execution: Meersman, who had had a decent season to date, did nothing in the Giro, pulling out in stage 7. Lotto's star of this Giro was without a doubt Lars Bak. Active in several breakaways, including solo efforts on each of the first two road days that served no real tactical purpose but no doubt thrilled the home fans, the stocky Dane picked up his first victory in three years in stage 12.

Final Grade: B-minus. On the whole unremarkable, but that stage win is a definite feather in the team's cap, as is the Premio della Fuga won by Olivier Kaisen, the award for the most kilometers spent in a breakaway of ten or fewer men. I wonder if there is a trophy any or all of the Giro's myriad of minor awards.

Movistar Team

Goals entering Giro: Selective sprints (Ventoso), time trials (Bruseghin, possibly others)

Execution: Good, and exceeded their likely pre-race goals. Ventoso did pick up a win, in a sprint reduced by a crash. I must admit I missed that stage, so I really have nothing to say about it. The win that got more attention was stage 14, when Andrey Amador was the best finisher from a winning breakaway. Bruseghin never featured.

Final Grade: B. I wish I had a bit more to say, but "quietly effective" is the phrase that comes to mind.

Team NetApp

Goals entering Giro: Heavy breakaway representation (all).

Execution: I guess that may be a bit cynical, but it's difficult for anyone, even the team themselves, to expect much of a team riding their first Grand Tour in their history. They were struck a blow when their likely squad leader Leopold König was unable to start, but the nine who took the start in Herning did the team and their sponsors proud. De facto squad leader Jan Bárta, like the aforementioned Amador put in a spirited stage 14 ride, though he lost out in the sprint. Bartosz Huzarski had previously taken second to Rodriguez on stage 10, and Daniel Schorn, Matthias Brändle, and Cesare Benedetti also rode to top-ten stage performances. A win sure would have been a nice cherry-on-top, but they put in a respectable debut.

Final Grade: B-minus. Ultimately, their performance, in a vacuum, was a bit like that of the French teams, but they get a bonus for being Grand Tour debutants.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step

Goals entering Giro: Seriously dark overall horse (Cataldo), a free hand in the sprints (Chicchi)

Execution: Cataldo rode to a pretty anonymous 12th place overall, and Chicchi nearly the took win in stage 11 (the day Ferrari won). That's really the only time I recall seeing this team at all. But they did emerge as winners!...of the Giro's Fair Play award.

Final Grade: C. 12th is about as good as Cataldo could have expected to do.

Orica-GreenEDGE

Goals entering Giro: Sprints (Goss)

Execution: Talk about all your eggs in one basket. Goss did win stage 3, but thanks to Ferrari, he didn't have Cavendish to worry about. Goss took second to Cavendish in stages 2 and 5, Brett Lancaster turned in a top-ten ride in the first time trial, and Daryl Impey, Tomas Vaitkus, and Svein Tuft also took top-ten stage placings. The squad's sixth in the team time trial was a bit of a disappointment, though, and nothing really seemed to have much luster on it. Only four riders from this squad completed the Giro, though given how sprint-focused the squad was, it's tough to blame them.

Final Grade: C-plus. "Orica-GreenEDGE" may have been Grand Tour debutants, but only two of the nine guys on the bikes were. I know Goss was hurt as the race wore on, but it just seems like they could have done more.

Rabobank

Goals entering Giro: Sprints, sprints, and more sprints (Renshaw and Bos, likely in that order), see-what-happens between GC and stage hunting (Garate)

Execution: What execution? Renshaw finished about where you'd expect him to on the first two road days, sixth and then fifth. The first result was marred by he and Bos touching wheels in the final run-in (am I way off, or is it kind of nutballs to do that with a teammate?). It didn't get much better from there. Renshaw managed third in stage 13, leaving the race the next day (Bos, to his credit, stayed in a further three days). Stef Clement featured in a winning breakaway on stage 16, taking third on the day. Garate never featured, finishing 59th overall. The team's best-placed man in the final overall standings was young Tom Slagter, in 30th place.

Final Grade: D-minus. I really have to scratch my head with regards to Rabobank's entire Giro. Holding Steven Kruijswijk out for the Tour de France is seriously questionable considering how much the Giro course would have favored him better and how well he's done at the race the last two years (improving exponentially both years). But then to center your squad around four seriously mediocre sprinters (Renshaw, Bos, Tom Leezer, and Graeme Brown - at least he didn't miss an elimination time by half an hour this year) who will be dropped by anything that drops Cavendish...like I say, head-scratching. The team was never even particularly active in breakaways - Clement was their only rider classified in the Premio della Fuga standings, in 14th place. Just a bad, waste of a Giro. Perhaps Garate could have redeemed it a little if he did anything, but he didn't.

RadioShack-Nissan-Trek

Goals entering Giro: 11th-hour GC (Schleck), sprints (Bennati)

Execution: Not exactly a marriage made in heaven, hmm? Schleck lay in reasonable position, 15th, after stage 14, but he withdrew from the race during stage 15 claiming injury. The ultimate resolution of that DNF is something that's still to be determined. The team did reasonably well in the time trials, as they normally do, with Jesse Sergent and Nelson Oliveira both top 10 in stage 1, Sergent likewise in stage 21, and the squad eighth-best in the TTT. Bennati's only placement in a sprint was 8th in stage 2 - Nizzolo did him better later in the race after Bennati had gone home, as the younger Italian recorded a third and two sixth places.

Final Grade: D-plus. The Schleck situation is unfortunate, in a train-wreck-appeal sort of way. While the squad waxed competitive in the sprints and the TT's, they never really had the personnel to emerge as winners in either.

Team Saxo Bank

Goals entering Giro: Sprints (los hermanos Haedo)

Execution: Neither Haedo did much, with JJ taking 2nd in stage 3 and Sebastian a 5th and an 8th later on. They somewhat unexpectedly had a very strong team time trial, taking 4th place....and that's about it.

Final Grade: D. On the one hand, no expectations, no execution, no disappointment, but on the other hand, I'm reconsidering my position of support for them back when it was questioned whether they would keep their World Tour license for this year. They are overmatched at every turn of the pedals.

Team Sky

Goals entering Giro: Sprints (gee I wonder who), points jersey (same guy), GC hopefuls/youth jersey (the young Colombians)

Execution: Excellent. Cavendish won three stages and probably could have won twice that number if not for late-race crashes (I know, nature of the beast). It was refreshing to see a sprinter soldier through the high mountains of a Grand Tour's third and final week. I was hoping he would win the points jersey, though it was not to be. Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Urán were both strong, and surely either of them could have won the white jersey had it been the case that they anointed a leader ahead of time. They were outclassed by Hesjedal and Rodriguez and even the veteran Italians at the race's very hardest stages, but keep in mind - they were both white-jersey eligible (even though it seems like Urán has been around for quite some time).

Final Grade: A-minus. Tough to be too hard on them. Cavendish's points classification defeat stings, especially that it came by a single point that could have been picked up on about 4 different occasions, but three stage wins and the white jersey is still a nice haul. Cavendish also won two of the GIro's many minor awards, claiming the Azzurri d'Italia classification and the combative classification.

Vacansoleil-DCM

Goals entering Giro: I...seriously have no idea. Sprints with Feillu? Did they believe in De Gendt to do this well?

Execution: It was a race of two days for Vacansoleil. Oh, sure, Larsson did okay in the first time trial, and Feillu got some boring placings in the sprints...and De Gendt didn't literally come out of nowhere, but he pretty much came out of nowhere with that Stelvio ride. It was historic stuff, and for a few moments it looked like it was going to be legendary stuff. A solid fifth place in the time trial gave De Gendt a result I wonder if even he expected, even just days prior to it happening.

Final Grade: A. The Stelvio stage was magic, as I expected it would be, but for totally unexpected reasons. Ryder Hesjedal no doubt finds himself a marked man in the future, well, the same must be true of Thomas De Gendt. The gruppo maglia rosa came reasonably close to giving him the Giro on the Stelvio. That'll never happen again, so it'll be intriguing if De Gendt is ever this highly-placed again. But for now, what an awesome Giro.

And what a great closing sentence :]

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