And here’s where I try to find exciting things to talk about regarding unexciting teams! Well, teams that haven’t been all that exciting of late anyway. Maybe 2023 will be a bit more memorable for Trek-Segafredo, the slightly Italian, even less American, squad that traces its timeline back to the Leopard days just over a decade ago. That was a star-studded era for the team and they won monuments and grand tours alike, and as recently as 2021 they had Jasper Stuyven’s MSR win to celebrate and spent the previous year (2020, blerg) defending the rainbow jersey. But 2022 was a certified dud. And they are a few years out from having the likes of Porte and Nibali giving them a credible contender in a grand tour. The team has gotten pretty young lately, and they are going to need to see some results before too long.
Anyway... stick around for the kit reviews!
1. Mad About Mads?
When do you decide to call a guy a superstar? That’s a question for Mads Pedersen, who took over the Vuelta a España points chase by just bulldozing the competition, and seemed primed for more, only to end his season before chasing a world title where he would have been a favorite. If that sounds like a criticism, it had been a very long season — he finished the Tour de France too — and a trip to Australia would not have been nothing. All for a shot at a jersey he’d spent a year in already... I’m sure it was the right decision for him or he wouldn’t have made it.
Apart from a world title in 2019, Pedersen has wins in Gent-Wevelgem, Tour and Vuelta stages, KBK, a near miss in Flanders, and high volume production for a not-so-pure sprinter, 27 victories to his professional name. So is he a superstar? I’m going with no, not yet, but this is a big year for the Dane. He’s firmly in his prime (27) so it’s not like now or never, but he has previously shown that he is a potential force in the Cobbled Classics and coming off a strong performance last year, it seems like this could be a golden opportunity for him to burnish his resume in a big way.
2. Will any of the kids grow up?
In a lot of sports, having a super young roster tends to generate more smoke than fire. Dreaming on the potential of the next great young rider is a hallmark of the sport now more than ever, but that’s our problem. Trek’s job is to actually go out and win. And young rosters have a track record of not panning out right away. Until they are something more, these kids are lottery tickets.
Trek have a LOT of lottery tickets, and if we have learned anything about lotteries, it’s that if you buy enough tickets you’re sure to win! That’s good news for Trek!
Mattias Skjelmose Jensen is a good bet to score points in stage races, thanks to his time trialling, and he flashed some punchy goodness that could turn into classics results pretty soon while he builds toward grand tour stuff. Antonio Tiberi and Filippo Baroncini have some one-day talent. Quinn Simmons is America’s hottest cobbles talent, and is talking up his motivations for the coming season, his fourth, though his 22nd birthday is a few months off. Natnael Tesfatsion comes aboard this year to add another climber. Even Thibau Nys is here, ready to see if his talent translates big time on the road.
That’s a list of names and notes about how talented they are. Every winter we make these lists and then wait to see if the actual humans referenced here can transform their young careers. I do like Trek taking several chances here, one or more of them could well lead them into their next iteration. But there are no guarantees.
3. Is it all just stage wins at the grand tours? Like, forever?
Considering the team was founded to give the Schleck brothers a Riis-free pathway to glory, Trek’s lack of grand tour GC avenues is pretty conspicuous. I don’t blame them for parting ways with Vincenzo Nibali or Richie Porte when they did — Trek don’t have the kind of budget where they can pay for past performance. But that leaves them with Bauke Mollema and Giulio Ciccone somewhere in the vicinity of the top 25 on GC. In other words, nowhere.
Skjelmose Jensen probably represents their best hope at turning things around. Tesfatsion might be more of a pure climber than a real GC threat, depending on whether his ITT can develop. I don’t know if there’s anyone else who fits that bill, but between these two maybe they get something going this year? If not, well, Pedersen in the maillot vert isn’t the worst thing.
4. Which Jasper Stuyven can we expect?
Good question. I am trying to decipher some correlation between his top scoring years and one or other program or peak. He’s topped 1000 points five times since 2017, coming off a couple down years, and with relatively quiet campaigns in 2020 and 2022. He’s run pretty similar programs every year, including going to the Tour, which hasn’t prevented him from having really strong fall campaigns. So which years tell us what to believe? When he starts strong or finishes big?
The answer is mostly that he just is who he is, and that’s a guy more likely than not to crack the 1000-point barrier again. Since really setting in at Trek his only real down years were in 2020, which was obviously a mess, and 2022, when he got ill around Milano-Sanremo, a bad time for a cobbles guy to have to stop what he’s doing and recover. Stuyven turns 32 in April, and there’s been enough reporting about how close he and Pedersen are as teammates. Add in Toms Skuujins, Simmons, and Edward Theuns, and you have a solid cobbles squad. I don’t think it’s crazy to believe in these guys, if their preparation goes well. Yes, the Van Aert-van der Poel stranglehold will be there, as will Pogacar, but a strong team still has a role to play, and after the two big stars, this might be the next strongest team. There is no Quick Step juggernaut at the moment to fear. Step up, lads.
5. Kit Ranking Time!
OK, we have 12 years of entries and a general theme that (post-Leopard) involves red, white and black. Over that time they’ve rearranged the colors just about every possible way, but the results don’t ever feel all that different.
2023: Is that a design element???
Their newest entry is actually their first to use something besides large solid square fields of color. It’s like they’ve discovered the concept of flair. Just now!
2022: White enough for ya?
Like I said, they’ve tried all the combos. This was the year they gave up on emphasizing red and black.
2021: Black Sleeves
Is this their “classic” look? I kind of think of it that way. Perhaps because it was their biggest classics campaign, where Jasper won the Omloop and Mads Gent-Wevelgem.
2019: Not quite all red
Probably their most striking effort before this year. Later in 2019 they went to their first almost-all-white, which is basically the same as 2022.
2018: What red is that anyway?
It’s a tad ... bright.
2017: Red shoulders, vertical stripes
The Cancellara years featured some vertical striping. I guess that was an early attempt at flair? This wasn’t my least favorite.
2016: White shoulders, vertical stripes
This was my least favorite.
2014: Trek Black-tory Racing
Feels like every team has gone all black at some point, no? Quick Step and INEOS for sure, Garmin (pre-EF) too. Israel Premier Tech, not yet, but they have gotten progressively darker, so maybe that’s next year. In the desert though??
2011 Wayback Time... with Leopards!
I suspect a lot of you guys will have a sentimental attachment here. I don’t — it’s just a powder blue stripe, but hey, this is a democracy.
Speaking of which...
When did Trek-Segafredo put out their best kit?
This poll is closed
2022: White Time
2021: Black sleeve look
2019: Red and Black
2018: Bright red
2017: Red over Black
2016: White over Black
2014: Trek Black-tory Racing
2011: Layopard Days