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Priorities, Part Two: Three Regions

Priorities, Part One- Grand Tours here.

Season VDS totals of the teams here.

WARNING!!! Numbers- lots of 'em!- follow!!!!!!  

So with the Grand Tour post done with, we'll now look at three major cycling countries and the major races they hold. Belgium, Italy, and Spain. How did the teams do in those regions and can numbers back up what our impressions tell us about the unique flavor of pro cycling in each region? More importantly can numbers tell us something new, or just shamelessly lie about the whole mess?

In future posts I'll delve deeply into each region; here I'm contrasting the regions. On the flip I'll start with a dreaded table but before I get to that, a word about the regions I'm neglecting.

France- This is the tough region to neglect but I'm taking a cue from what Chris wrote a week or so ago. May French VDS races are more world events than French regional events. The Tour is totally a world event but so is the Dauphine and Paris-Nice. Paris-Roubaix I'm including in Belgium while Paris-Tours is so vanilla to me that it could be anywhere.  Still it's a judgement call but I'm going with the idea that to get the full flavor of French pro cycling you have top go to the Coupe races, which fly below the VDS radar mostly.

I realize that this slights the French teams. However its interesting to see what French teams do elsewhere. One other team that leaving France out of this study messes with is Garmin, at least last year. As you'll slowly see Garmin did very very little outside of France last year. That will probably change-somewhat, this year. At least Garmin better hope it will.

Germany/Eastern Europe- So much time, so few races. Hopefully Germany will become a real pro cycling region again.

Okay. One more thing on definition of Regions.

- Belgium means all the VDS cobbles races, including Paris-Roubaix, plus the Ardennes trio, including Amstel, plus the later two stage races, Ster Elektroer, and Eneco/Benelux. There are 20,530 VDS points up for grabs.

-Spain means the three single day races, the four week stage races, and the Vuelta. Racers compete for 17,929 VDS points.

- Italy means the one week-long stage race, the five single day races, and the Giro. 19,406 VDS points for the taking.


So. On to the comparative list:

Category Belgium Italy Spain
Total VDS Points 20530 19406 17929
# of teams winning points 30 26 30
Points won by non PT teams 2815 5387 2061
% points won by non PT teams 13.7% 27.8% 11.4%
Points won- top 5 all teams 10005 8358 9273
% points won top 5 points all teams 48.7% 43.1% 51.7%
Points won- top 10 all teams 15265 14303 13899
% points won top 10 points all teams 74.4% 73.7% 77.5%
Best team, points won 2450 2215 3315
Best team, % points won 11.9% 11.4% 18.5%

Such a little table! No worries: just you wait! BTW, "PT" means Pro Tour teams last year. 

So anything interesting so far?

% points won by non PT teams.  Notice how Italy has so many more non-pro tour teams getting results. We'll look more at that in the Italy post but to me it shows how much Italian talent that does not cross its borders. This is aggravated to be sure by ASO's exclusion of LPR last year but even still the national nature of Italian races is more pronounced than the other regions. Or, to put it another way, the regional teams of Belgium and Spain suck more.

% points won top 5 points all teams. The top five teams in each region:

Belgium: Saxo (2450), Quickstep (2305- hear the gnashing of teeth?), Rabobank (1935 (more gnashing), Columbia (1715), *Lotto (1600- a whole lot of wailing going on!)

Italy: Liquigas (2215), CSF (1815), Saxo (1657), Astana (1815), and Columbia (1306)

Spain: Astana (3315), Caisse d'Epargne (2375), Eustatel! (1230), Saxo (1180), Cofidis! (1173).

This "Italian regional teams are better" meme is again brought out in this category which shows that Italian races are less dominated by the very best (read multinational) pro tour teams. 

What's also interesting here is that there are fewer teams winning points in Italian races than the other two regions (26 vs 30 for the other two regions), so you might say that there's a bigger drop-off in quality from the good non PT Italian teams (LPR, CSF, A&S, Barloworld, Tinkoff, big inhale Serramenti PVC Diquigionanni-Androni Giocattoli, and Ceramica Flaminia and the rest then there is in Spain and Belgium.

Notice though in the next category, the top 10 teams, the regions basically even out.

- Notice that the best team in Spain won a lot more points relative, than the other two regions. The #1 teams in each region are Spain-Astana, Belgium-Saxo, Italy-Liquigas. I think that this is because Spain's VDS races are mostly stage races- red meat to Astana, while the other two regions are single day racing orientated which spreads out the winners more. If you take the Giro and Vuelta out of Spain and Italy un-respectively, you get: 


Category Spain w/o Vuelta Italy w/o Giro
Total VDS Points 8791 8758
# of teams winning points 30 23
Points won by non PT teams 1466 3036
% points won by non PT teams 16.8% 34.7%
Points won- top 5 all teams 4165 4731
% points won top 5 points all teams 47.4% 54%
Points won- top 10 all teams 6343 7562
% points won top 10 points all teams 72.2% 86.3%
Best team, points won 1080 1517
Best team, % points won 12.3% 17.3%

So here Italy's uniqueness is even more pronounced: the good non PT teams are seriously competitive here. On the other hand the top teams, pro tour or no, really compete/dominate in the non Grand Tour races. 

Other odds and ends:

- Aqua & Sapone. I was surprised at how competitive they are in each region. But that just points out that the Italian non-PT teams travel better than the non PT teams based in Spain, Belgium, or France as you rarely see the later countries' non-PT teams doing squat anywhere outside their home regions. (VDS tip!)

-Cofidis. I was happy to see how well Cofidis did in Spain. 1173 points, 5th best, just behind Saxo. They earned points in five of the eight races so it wasn't just Moncoutie running off and hiding with the KOM Vuelta jersey. Of course this year... no Nuyens, no Chavanel the better, no Monfort, no Scheirlinckx, etc. etc. etc.

- Saxo, which won the most VDS points overall, had the highest average ra nking within the three regions at 2.67. The top top in average ranking: 

Saxo- 2.67

Quickstep- 5

3 (tie) Liquigas- 6.33

3. (tie) Columbia- 6.33

5. (tie) Astana 6.67

5. (tie) Lampre 6.67

7. Caisse d'Epargne- 7.33

8. Rabobank- 7.67

9. Gerolsteiner- 10

10. *Lotto- 10.33

Of course average ranking is in many cases here highly misleading because the differences between one and ten in any region is huge.

Back to work. More later.