It's late August; the transfer silly season is in full swing. But still the teams have their agendas, what they want to accomplish this year-and there's still some major items to tick off: the Vuelta, Worlds, and Lombardia. Paris-Tours, Emilia, and a whole bunch of smaller regionally focused races. So let's look at the major teams and see how they've done so far and what they need to do in order for them to feel satisfied once that god-awful month of November reaches out and squeezes all our hopes and dreams into a pulp.
A bit of explanation on how I am organizing things below. With each team I start off with four numbers (yea numbers!).
- What the team earned in 2008 (using VDS points, naturally) along with team ranking in parenthesis.
- What the team earned in 2009, along with team ranking in parenthesis. So far so simple, right?
- What this year's riders scored last year. See the difference between this and what the team did in 2009? Just to be clear, take HTC-Columbia. Last year's team had EBH, Lofkvist, etc. This year's team is slightly different. It has the Velits' brothers, Teejay, etc. so the numbers in this third line includes these guys and not the Eddy Bo/Lofkvist group who are in the second line. I am including this number to see if with last winter's transfers has the team at least earned as many points as the individual riders on the team did last year.
- The last number is what the team has earned this year to date-after Ouest-Plouay and stage 5 of Eneco, and their ranking for this year so far.
Okay, that was confusing I am sure. Let's get on with the teams staring with the best team of 2010:
1) Saxo Bank
-2008 points: 9050 (1)
-2009 points: 8640 (2)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 6119
-Points earned so far in 2010: 6488 (1)
Work to do: Just follow through. Cancellara should score at the Worlds and the Vuelta TT's. The big question is what the Schlecks, especially Frank, will do at the Vuelta. They haven;t yet shown the ability to focus over two Grand Tours in a row but perhaps Frank's early injury on the Tour will change that. Overall this team is in a transition year even without the Schlecks , etc., leaving, which is reflected in the several very young riders on the team. Obviously that will continue next year but IMO already this year is a success. I could see them getting up around 8000 points for the year.
-2008 points: 6642 (2)
-2009 points: 9653 (1)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 7299
-Points earned so far in 2010: 5876 (2)
Work to do: Remember how much they lost last winter? EBH, Burghardt, Hincapie, Kirchen, Henderson, Barry, Possoni, and Lofkvist. Yes, they bought the Velits', Bak, Goss, and a slew of kids, but integrating these guys should take more than a year even with Bob Stapleton at the helm. So in retrospect it's not surprising that they might not earn as many points this year as their riders did last year and that's what's happening as you can see above....
Or so you might rationalize. The truth is this team is doing almost exactly as predicted-from the riders' past efforts-expect for cavendish and his dental work costing the team 900 big fat points. You heard it hear first: next year this team, even without Greipel, will be scary as the kids grow up.
Anyways, I am not sure if they are targeting anything much other than stage wins by Cav and Greipel at the Vuelta and Britain. Cab at the Worlds? I am now thinking he (or Greipel) doesn't stand a chance. Maybe Goss though. Paris-Tours and Paris-Brussels are a possibility.
-2008 points: 6212 (3)
-2009 points: 6119 (4)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 4801
-Points earned so far in 2010: 5186 (3)
Work to do: Say what you will about team turnover and all that T-Mob went through in becoming HTC-Columbia, Astana takes a back seat to no one. 2007: The Vino/Kash/Kloden mob that got kicked out of the Tour. 2008 saw Bruyneel/Contador/Leipheimer and the Disco remnants take charge and avoid the ASO sanctions to two Grand Tour wins. 2009 saw the Lance soap opera with all the main guys leaving after the Tour and Vino making a late season comeback. Then this year with Contador essentially leaving after the Tour. Next year is Vino's swan song and the beginning of Kreuziger and Kiserlovski and who knows who else. That's a ton of change. And yet they are still in 3rd place overall.
I see them dropping some as their Vuelta lineup is a fairly weak stage hunting group. But who knows? Vino may make quite a splash at the Worlds and Lombardia. But obviously, with their turmoil this year (not nearly as much as last year) they have had a successful season.
-2008 points: 4697 (6)
-2009 points: 5761 (6)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 5631
-Points earned so far in 2010: 4869 (4)
Work to do: Get back their Giro mojo-and Nibs at the Vuelta may just do that. This is a very deep team, as deep as any in the pro peloton, but don't get fooled: they are very Grand Tour focused. Look for Benna to do surprisingly well in the Vuelta sprints too. They should pass last year's point total.
-2008 points: 5014 (5)
-2009 points: 6575 (3)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 5750
-Points earned so far in 2010: 4772 (5)
Work to do: They took a step up last year as you can see from their 20-08/2009 point totals above. So what stands between them having a 2008 type of year and a 2009 is probably Menchov winning the Vuelta (which is possible but I'm not betting on it) and/or Freire scoring big-time at the Worlds (possible but it's so damn hard to predict Oscarito). The Martens and Mollema injuries hurt this team or else they would be possibly third right now.
-2008 points: 1535 (16)
-2009 points: 4075 (10)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 3865
-Points earned so far in 2010: 4365
Work to do: Help the Wenatchee Wonder finish off a career year as the best sprinter in the world this year (based on number of results). Help CVV regain his love of cycling. Keep Hesjedal on course in the Canadian races and the Worlds and Lombardia, hope Tuft busts out at the Worlds TT. Those are the targets still to come but already the team should be very, very satisfied with itself. Look how far its come since 08 and look how the loss of Wiggo meant nothing to them. (Buy low, sell high.) Its time we start talking of Garmin as one of the top five teams in the world. I would vote for Vaughters as the best DS in the world right now.
-2008 points: Didn't exist
-2009 points: 3490 (11)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 4918
-Points earned so far in 2010: 4025 (7)
Work to do: First, an observation: Katusha was right behind Garmin in last year's standings and they still are now. Both teams are steadily gaining on the leaders. Funny how they are paired, even though they seem so different.
But for the rest of 2010, they, like garmin, can look back at the year to date and be happy even if Kirchen was a bust and Ivanov quietly imploded. (At least he didn't test positive but Ivanov's point drop of 765 might be the largest of the year.) But Pozatto, Kolobnev, and Karpets have also underperformed so far and while both of them could be a factor at the Worlds or Paris-Tours/Lombardia their seasons will still be a step backwards. Katusha does have their A team at the Vuelta and if they do well then my worries will be alleviated but right now I can't tell what this team is actually doing.
8. Radio shack
-2008 points: Didn't exist
-2009 points: Didn't exist
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 3012
-Points earned so far in 2010: 3429 (8)
Work to do: Not much besides win the Tour of Utah. But with this stage racing team essentially done with no Vuelta invite, they have a lot of time to figure out how to reinvent themselves next year with no Lance and little contributions from Levi or Klodi.
-2008 points: Didn't exist
-2009 points: 6030 (5)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 5125
-Points earned so far in 2010: 3070 (9)
Work to do: Oops! Haussler beats Ivanov's fall by 10 points! What a Glorious fall from Grace! But regardless of if Haussler riders the Worlds or not I expect him to pick up some points in some of the remaining races so Ivanov will overtake him by year's end.
Looking at the whole team, they still stand a chance at approaching last year's points totals. Haussler I just talked about. Hushovd is in better shape now than he was in the Tour and the Worlds course is easy on his eye. Tondo will be fresh for the Vuelta and Lombardia, while if anyone can do back-to-back Grand Tours successfully it's Sastre (and not Menchov or J-Rod or whomever else you want to throw out). So while they can't make up for the early season injuries to Haussler and hushovd they could still clear 5000 points. These guys are gonna be very busy starting this Saturday night.
10. Sky Professional Cycling Team
-2008 points: Didn't exist
-2009 points: Didn't exist
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 5296
-Points earned so far in 2010: 3050 (10)
Work to do: Lots. I've come down hard on this team in recent race comment threads and I stand by that. This is the most underperforming team of the year. From paying a premium for too many riders including one guy with exactly one decent Grand Tour result (Wiggo) to not training the very young EBH so he missed the cobbles season to Lofkvist being a non-factor to...HEY! Ivanov? Pfft. Haussler? Don't make me laugh: the rider who's cratered the most from last year to this is Simon Gerrans, down 820 points. Add to these guys riders like KAA (down from 227 points to 0) or Vigano (160-0), Carlstrom (100-0) and man this team has a coaching problem. So they have a lot of work to do if the shit ain't gonna seriously gonna hit the fan before the season's end.
And they could pull out some good results too. EBH at Worlds. Lofkvist at the Vuelta. Um....I'm not seeing much else so, yeah, the shit should be hitting the fan this winter, if it already hasn't.
-2008 points: Zip
-2009 points: Zilch
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 3475
-Points earned so far in 2010: 3040 (11)
Work to do: Just keep doing what they are doing. Evans will get some points at the Worlds and/or Lombardia/Emilia if he enters them. Ballan should be a Worlds dark horse. Be happy at this first year and prep for a step up next year.
-2008 points: 3910 (8)
-2009 points: 5428 (7)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 3700
-Points earned so far in 2010: 2770 (12)
Work to do: Release the Phil-Gil! Hope that Gilbert can approximate last year's fall. Not sure why they didn't set up Moreno for a serious Vuelta push but then I am not brain damaged and I can't figure out how Sargent thinks. Definitely a step backward this year even beyond losing Evans. To their credit they seem to understand this from their heavy involvement in the transfer market.
13. Caisse d'Epargne
-2008 points: 5649 (4)
-2009 points: 5237 (9)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 5086 (2678 without Valverde)
-Points earned so far in 2010: 2915 (13)
Work to do: Keep as many of these riders as possible through to next year. Really, when you take away Valverde's points, this team has taken a step forward. Lulu has become a Grand Tour dark horse and could do better next year. Arroyo had a wondrous Giro (and still my favorite day of the whole year was the stage where he tried to defend his Pink jersey by descending like a banshee.) If you look at this team as primarily a young team, they have a world of potential and you gotta like their chances to stake a couple big steps forward the next couple of years. They have a stacked Vuelta team which could cause them to crack the top 10 by year's end along with their Emilia and Lombardia results.
-2008 points: 3820 (9)
-2009 points: 2580 (13)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 2508
-Points earned so far in 2010: 2800 (14)
Work to do: Um, figure out what's wrong with Cunego? Support Petacchi? Wait for Visconti to become the team leader next year?
-2008 points: 4601 (7)
-2009 points: 5273 (8)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 4503
-Points earned so far in 2010: 2510 (15)
Work to do: First it must be said that this team has fallen further than any other team this year. And its been a group effort. Here are as of today how many points various riders are down from last year: Boonen -460, Devo -265, Chavanel -608, Seeldrayers -350, Barredo -185, Van Impe -240. Christ allmighty that's awful. So to salvage the year? Well its beyond salvaging and like their pathetic Belgian rival team, they know that (I LOVE the Terpstra pickup. Love. It.) Hopefully Boonen can come back and put in a good Paris-Tours* win and maybe Paris-Brussels too. Maybe Chavanel can have a decent Worlds-his kind of course in theory.
* Speaking of Paris-Tours, it is I see nine days after the Worlds RR. That's gonna leave a bunch of potential Paris-Tours contenders with a serious jet lag for P-T. If Boonen regains his health he should be the prohibitive rested favorite there.
-2008 points: 2304 (12)
-2009 points: 3375 (12)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 2850
-Points earned so far in 2010: 2460 (16)
Work to do: Have Anton podium in the Vuelta. Maybe get Sam San on the podium at Lombardia. Then go home happy.
-2008 points: ------
-2009 points: 1910 (16)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 1890
-Points earned so far in 2010: 2355 (17)
Work to do: Excellent but weird year. I mean if I told you in February that this team would have more points right now than all of last year you'd think that Bozic and Hoogie would be having even getter years than last year right? The thing is Hoogie is down 480 points from last year and Bozic is down 515. What they've done right is getting more riders to score. Good coaching there.
-2008 points: 1295 (19)
-2009 points: 1290 (21)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 1295
-Points earned so far in 2010: 1860
Work to do: Be happy. They've had a decent year.
19. Androni etc.
-2008 points: 425
-2009 points: 1766 (17)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 1076
-Points earned so far in 2010: 1538 (19)
Work to do: Find someone better than SELLA! to replace Scarponi.
-2008 points: 2111 (13)
-2009 points: 1645 (18)
-What the 2010 riders earned in 2009: 1855
-Points earned so far in 2010: 1555 (20)
Work to do: I dunno. I keep falling asleep when I think of these guys and so since I am doing that now, I'll go take a nap. See ya later.