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The VDS View: Ranking The Pro Teams At Midseason

So which team is the best team?

Or, which team has had the better 1st half of the season?


These two questions have been asked by Chris for the past half year starting with this post here. There he compares the rankings systems of Cycling Quotient, the UCI Pro Tour, and Cycling Weekly.  You can read that post and comments to get to those details.

Eventually Chris focused on CQ when discussing rankings, which makes sense to me as they are more comprehensive and accessible then the other two systems.  Last week he gave us a run down on the top 20 teams, 1-10 here, and 11-25 here.  But that got me to thinking...

Maybe Chris, with the help of the rest of us to a varying degree, has created a better ranking system than CQ!  Maybe the VDS system is actually a better judge of the teams than CQ!  Whoo-hoo!

Okay, I can see you rolling your eyes, saying, "She-bear you knucklehead, there is no VDS team ranking!  Can't you read?" To that I reply: Ha! Last night when I had this brain fart I immediately downloaded the latest VDS rankings, added to them what I estimate are the Tour de Suisse results, then went down the list and put the riders into their Pro teams.  Actually didn't take all that long!  But before I get to comparing the CQ and VDS team rankings, let me say a couple words on why one would want to use the VDS system than CQ.

To me the biggest reason to use VDS is that it actually uses the races that I care about most.  CQ includes a whole bunch of races that I honestly don't pay any attention to and never even notice are taking place while The UCI Pro Tour rankings include too few races because they are idiots of politics. For me I want a ranking system to be about the races I care about, which are the races that enough top teams try their utmost to win. Otherwise the scoring systems of CQ, UCI, and VDS are pretty similar.  I do like that CQ weights the Tour over the Giro and Vuelta since that reflects reality but things like that can be tweaked- they are relatively minor problems.

(Now its possible that the VDS uses not quite enough races and we talked about that last winter; we can always talk about it again this winter.)

So onto to the rankings where below I have four columns: The CQ ranking, the CQ points, the VDS ranking and the VDS points scored:

EDIT: Jens and Frinking noticed that I slotted Nocientini into QS and not AG2R. I've fixed that now. For those who saw this before the edit, the change keeps QS in 5th place of the VDS standings but moves AG2R up from 19th to 14th. 974
CQ Ranking Points VDS Ranking VDS Points
1. Columbia/HR 5950 1. Sexy/CSC 3562
2. Liquigas 5821 2. Liquigas 3422
3. Sexy/CSC 5685 3. Rabobank 3409
4. Astana 5492 4. Columbia/HR 3265
5. Rabobank 5073 5. Quickstep 2700
6. Quickstep 4907 6. Astana 2502
7. Caisse d'Epargne 4622 7. Caisse d'Epargne 2309
8. Silence! 4150 8. Lampre 2250
9. Francaise des Jeux 3983 9. Silence! 1980
10. Credit Agricole 3823 10. Gerolsteiner 1791
11. Gerolsteiner 3802 11. Cofidis 1241
12. Bouygues Telecom 3735 12. Saunier DS 1095
13. Lampre 3573 13. Credit Agricole 1085
14. Cofidis 3269 14. AG2R 1035
15. Barloworld 2940 15. Barloworld
16. AG2R 2905 16. FdJ 900
17. Euskatel 2710 17. Euskatel 814
18. Saunier DS 2609 18. Bweeg 810
19. LPR Brakes 2490 19. LPR Brakes 630
20. Garmin/Slippies 2425 20. Garmin/Slippies 617
23. Milram 2023 21. Milram 610

So comparing the lists you see Saunier up 6 places on the VDS, Lampre up 5, Cofidis up 3, CSC up 2, while High Road  and AG2R are down 3, FdJ is down 6, Bweeg down 5, and Credit Agricole down 3.  The others are down or up no more than two with four having the same ranking.

And if you look at the VDS points you see a big gap between #5 Quickstep and #6 Astana and again a big gap between #10 Gerolsteiner and #11 Saunier Duval-Scott. When I see those point gaps I can look back at the races so far and see how much more solid certain teams are at placing their riders high in the classifications in big races. I see the VDS rankings as eliminating the noise created by giving points to some yannigan at the Tour of East Cupcake.  Later this week I'll get into looking at the rider VDS rankings that inform these team rankings but here are a couple VDS examples:

- Of Saunier Duval's 1095 points, 900 of them are earned by Ricco, 895 of them in the Giro. Makes sense?  Does to me as for the life of me I can't remember anyone on that team doing squat this year except for in the Giro.  In a similar vein, Phillippe Gilbert has earned 725 of FdJ's 900 points. with Sandy Casar earning 125 of the 200 remanding.  Boy are they gonna miss Gilbert next year. Maybe Feiliu will come back in fine form.

- A couple teams have a core group of money riders.  Cofidis has only four guys earning points, the least number of any team.  But those four riders are money: Nuyens 545, Syl Chavanel 416, Monfort 225, and Duque 55.  Meanwhile Liquigas earns their #2 ranking by being the only team with four riders each earning over 500 points: Bennati 814, Pozzato 635, Pellizotti 579, and Kreuzinger 546. Solid.

- Meanwhile Quickstep is the most surprising team.Boonen's lower score (675) this year is part of a several year downward trend, Bettini (340) is getting old, but Devo (635), Visconti (410) and especially Nocientini (410) prop them up.  rest of the year should not be so kind though what with Boonen's abuse issues (my take), and fewer chances for big sprinter's points making for fewer places for points unless Vlad Efimkin gets off the schneid in the Tour.

- Columbia/High Road slips in the VDS rankings probably because, while they and CSC tie with the most riders scoring points (16) CSC has a VDS point earning animal in Cancellara (1132) while Columbia/HR doesn't with Kirchen (677) being their high man. (They also miss Rogers and Gerdemann too while Burghardt has exactly zero points.) Because of those injuries High Road is a bit too dependent on their sprinters to keep challenging for the #1 spot- until next year.  CSC meanwhile looks untouchable for the #1 slot- unless Rabobank's big men, Menchov, Freire, and Gesink come through.  (Dekker seems to have the same trainer as Brown what with him being similarly out of shape.)

- The top VDS five separate themselves from #6 Astana and #7 Cd'E because of greater depth.  Contador (1205) and Valverde (1014) have almost half of their team's points while both of those teams have two high cost riders each (Gusev, Horner, Karpets, Lopez Garcia) with zero points.  With Astana, add in Levi mainly racing this year in America plus with Gusev braking his collarbone making their spring classics push moot, and you see that Astana is not actually top five material at midseason regardless of CQ's #4 ranking.  I do see Astana and CdE moving up in the rankings through the second half of the season though as the races fit them better.

- LPR will be a force next year since ASO will allow them back in to the spring (good for Di Luca) and with Rebellin almost definitely joining them.  They will be great in the spring through the Giro.

- The rankings will change some in the second half of the season.  Euskatel, Astana, Silence!, CdE, Barloworld, and AG2R I think will all rise. Lampre is very dependent on Cunego and Napolitano to keep its ranking high.