Races of the week:
Grand Tour season has begun!
- Tour de Yorkshire
- Giro d’Italia
Team of the week:
First named rider is the rider of the week and if a rider has a number in parentheses after their name it means the number of times they have made the select Team of the Week here.
1. Elia Viviani (3). Its not clear cut who was the rider of the week. It depends on your point of view. From my point of view its Viviani. The Giro is why he left Sky as he wanted to be supported in this race and it wasn't clear that they would even select him. Quickstep picked him up because, besides being available, he agreed to be their co-leader sprinter with Gaviria, something Kittel was not wanting to do. So far this year Viviani has had a good season though perhaps married a bit by his second place at Gent-Wevelgem. Still for Viviani, this year is all about the Giro. Its his #1 goal and he had to deliver. Understandably he was nervous before stage 2. And he delivered as we saw, not once but twice. Stage 2 saw him come from way behind while stage 3 saw his train work perfectly, though he had to avoid Sam Bennett’s very curvy line to the finish. He confirmed his status as that race’s dominant sprinter and the main question is how long he stays in a race that has so few sprinter stages going forward that he may well not win the points competition.
2. Tom Dumoulin. This is the other guy who I would consider as rider of the week. That opening TT put his main rivals on notice that he’s ready to defend. That he let Dennis take the pink jersey on stage 2 does not at all diminish his accomplishment in riding around Jerusalem.
3. Rohan Dennis (2). That Doom, let Dennis take the pink jersey also should not diminish his accomplishment in the opening TT, or indeed his chrono work all year. He opened his season with a 1+ minute win over Turbo Durbo in the 40km Aussie ITT championships, won the 12km Abu Dhabi TT over a top field of chronomen including Doom, followed that up with a TT win at Tirreno-Adriatico’as last stage, then only faltered (if you could call it that) in prepping for the Giro with a pair of short TT’s at Romandie. So he’s shown that he can win long, he can win on a power course, and he can win on a technical hilly course. I’m already looking forward to him and Doom dueling it out at the Worlds TT.
4. Alexander Kristoff. The Al Kristoff Invitational (aka Eschborn-Frankfurt) winner, his third in a row and fourth overall. The slightly harder course did not bother him one bit and his final sprint was as usual perfectly set up and executed. He is behind his FSA-DS of last year but not by that much: basically take out his points in last year’s 3 Dogs and he’s right on course. Sop he’s in a funny place in the eyes of most fans: not as good as he was a few years ago but still racking up lots of wins and scoring lots of points. We not see him next Sunday in California where he’ll be sprinting against the likes of Gaviria, Ewan, Kittel, and Cavendish.
5. Greg Van Avermaet (2). Tour De Yorkshire winner. Cleared 1000 FSA-DS points with the win, good for 4th in the standings. In my mind if no one else’s, GVA is entering Kristoff territory though GVA is a couple of years older: not having a second career year like he had hoped (including winning De Ronde) but still racking up tons of points. Obviously his career is no over and he can still pull off a Monument win. But equally obviously he’s not building on his great year last year. And really no rider this year has stood out as better than the others yet.
6. Magnus Cort Nielsen. Probably not many people saw Yorkshire this year but if they did they saw Cort being competitive for a GC that absolutely no one would have predicted pre-race. Won one stage, was 2nd in another and made it till the last climb on the last stage before BMC prized his cold almost lifeless hands from the GC. Talk about grit. Them Astana Danes are something else this year.
7. Jakob Mareczko. Just love tying his name. Also that style he has-like a snow plow. And he’s a pro conty rider who excelled on anything that doesn’t have a hill. Good luck going forward Jakob-you’lll need it!
8. Rudiger Selig- the last two places go to set up men. Selig has turned into one of the top pilotfish in the WT peloton and since Richeze isn't here, Selig gets a spot. He just blows holes in the peloton, always placing his sprinter into a good position. You often see elbows flying and riders jostling each other. No one jostles Selig. No one.
9. Finally as part of the Quickstep train I got to single out Max Schachmann who also owns the youth competition at the Giro. Damn that QS train is nice to watch.
Team of the Week- sigh Quickstep again? yep
Had to choose a best team this week as no team excelled at any two of the three races. But QS with the two Giro sprinter wins has to come out over UAE delivering Kristioff and BMC delivering GVA. That’s five weeks on top for QS in 11 weeks. This jibes with PdC’s VDS ranking where they have almost doubled the points won over 2nd place Bora. Over at UCI’s rankings the same is true-almost doubling their lead over 2nd place Bora. CQ has them easily #1 too but not by as much and over Movistar, and Astana.
Reverse Survivor Game:
Holding at three riders: Gaviria who couldn’t handle the run in at Frankfurt and finished 10 seconds behind Kristoff (we’ll see him next Sunday in California), Bouhanni who in his last two races, stage 1 at Sarthe and Frankfurt DNFed both times, will be at Dunkirk this week, and Chaves who as expected did not have the best of times ion the Giro TT. His next best shot at points is Mt Etna next weekend.
FSA DS Team of the week
Athletico Kebab ds’ed by atleticoram. Scored a league high 660 points this week by having GVA (1st @ Yorkshire), OliverNaesen (3rd @ Frankfurt), Jakob Mareczko (2nd & 3rd @ Giro) with10 points from Danny Van Poppel who's 5th on stage 3 at the Giro. Nice across the board scoring gets the job DONE
The Team of the recent Era
In doing all these rankings I wondered who would make the Team of our current era? By era I mean of the current or recently retired riders, who are the best of them? I have two teams here, a First Team and a Second Team. And there’s quite a difference between the two. Ridders who qualify for these teams have done a combination of racking up loads of FSA-DS points and won bug races like Grand Tours, Monuments and the like. I won't go much into what they accomplished; for most of the riders here its obvious. Also I am not ranking the riders within each team.
To the rankings!
- Alberto Contador. GC1 Has scored the most FSA-DS GC wins (Grand Tour and one week tours).
- Chris Froome. GC1A The #1 Tour de France GC rider. Those two guys are GC specialists with hardly a single day result between them. And they were totally dominant.
- Vincenzo Nibali. The most balanced rider between the two disciplines of GC and hilly Classics.
- Alejandro Valverde. Single day hilly Classics is Valverde. But he adds some GC talent too. All-time FSA-DS points leader of this generation and the only one to score over 30,000 points-8,000 more than #2 Contador. These two guys blended their big results between GC and one day classics. The main difference between them and the first two named riders is that the first two riders were always most likely to win a GC race that had the later two also in the race.
- Peter Sagan. Classics/sprinter Will pass Contador into 2nd place on VDS points list and will likely overhaul Valverde for #1 in a few years unless he gets bored.
- Tom Boonen. Cobbled classics/sprinter like Sagan but its interesting to compare the two that initially might seem similar to a fan in like 100 years.
- Fabio Cancellara. Cobbled Classics/Chronoman. And with Boonen and Sagan we have Spartacus who drops the sprinter in favor of TT1.
- Mark Cavendish. Sprinter1 The best pure sprinter of our era. A Worlds win, a MSR win and 40 freakin’ eight GT stage wins. That’s just insane.
- Philippe Gilbert Classics ace. THE all-rounder of our time.
So there. The First team of our era. Naturally it leans toward riders who have retired or are nearing the ends of their careers. These guys shared one thing in common: dominance. Utter dominance. You wil appreciate that dominance all the more when I list the
- Joaquim Rodriguez. Climby guy. The best pure climber of our time. Won his share of one day races and a few one week stage races, but never a GT and only one Monument (twice- Lombardy). Currently 7th in VDS points of our era.
- Cadel Evans. GC with some one day success. Won a Tour and a Worlds and a bunch of one week stage races. Currently 10th on VDS points.
- Greg Van Avermaet. Great Classics specialist. Just passed Evans on VDS points. Has won a Monument and and Olympic Gold.
- Oscar Freire. Oscarito! Any ranking that includes him is doing its job right. 3 World and 3 MSR wins plus 11 GT stage wins lands you here as the second best sprinter of our era...Which is weird as you never thought of him as being the second or third (after Sagan) best sprinter really. He just knew how to win. Sort of a proto Sagan.
- Alexander Kristoff. Sprinter/Cobbles guy. Won two Monuments so far, several major Classics, and a few GT stages. Notice how it feels like a drop-off from the First team?
- Alessandro Petacchi. A MSR win and as many GT stage wins as Cav- 48.
- Nairo Quintana. Two GT wins plus a few other week long stage races. Just passed Ivan Basso on the FSA-DS points list. That and the fact that he still has more GT wins in his pocket places him here.
- Damiano Cunego. 1 GT win and 3 Lombardy wins. At this point its hard to distinguish between Quintana, Cunego, Basso, and Menchov. And you could include Samuel Sanchez here as he scored more FSA-DS points than any of them with Cunego 2nd.
- Tony Martin. Chronoman plus a few week long stage race GC wins and five GT stage wins. T-Mart isn't an obvious choice here because he is 2000 points behind the next lowest scorer, Don Nairo but gets the nod as a dominant specialist in the race against time.
So that’s the second team. I find it sobering how if you compare the second team with the first team how much the first team wins. Cancellara>T-mart. Sagan/Cav>>Freire/Petacchi/Kristoff. Contador/Froome>Evans/Rodriguez.
Of course very few young guys today are listed. Quintana is easily the youngest here (and the only one here who stays a real chance to make the First Team). So who would you put on the Team of the near Future? Doom, yes. Kwiat, yes. Ala probably. But its tricky: 1-2 years ago most of us would have pegged Aru but now? Is Aru more like Hesjedal than Nibali and therefore not to be included? We need a few more years before we can make that judgement. Will Demare or Groenewegen or Gaviria or Viviani break into the Second team? hard to tell yet. They first have to get by the likes of Hushovd or Pozzato.
Next week I’ll attempt to compare the First Team to the All-time greats. I was hoping to use long time PdC writer Ceg Commisarre’s ranking system but it looks like it no longer lives on the internets. If anyone can find an archive I’d really appreciate it.
Previewing the week to come-
- A full week of the Giro
- 4 days of Dunkirk
- Day 1 of the Tour of California.
We are in full-on stage racing season folks.