AG2R CITROËN: 5/10
The respective third and fourth place finishes from Greg Van Avermaet and Oliver Naesen at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad back in February would be the best result they registered all spring, as both riders continued to fall short of the kind of performances Ag2r Citroën signed them off the back of, but Benoit Cosnefroy was unlucky not to get a win in the hilly Classics, taking second at both Amstel Gold Race and Brabantse Pijl.
Fears that Mathieu van der Poel might miss the whole spring were put at ease when he returned to racing with a bang to place third at Milan-San Remo, then went on to play another starring role with victories at Dwars door Vlaanderen and a thrilling Tour of Flanders. Tim Merlier further bolstered their results with sprint wins at Nokere Koerse and Brugge-De Panne.
Conscious of the need to pick up UCI points in order to earn promotion to the WorldTour, Arkéa-Samsic concentrated on placing multiple riders high up in races rather than rallying behind a single rider, as epitomised by their having three riders between fourth and seventh at the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne bunch finish. Consequently, they had lots of good results in the minor classics, most notably podiums for Hugo Hofstetter, Nacer Bouhanni and Warren Barguil, but no victories.
ASTANA QAZAQSTAN: 1/10
When Gianni Moscon placed fourth at Paris-Roubaix last season just prior to signing for Astana, the Kazakh team must have felt they had a major prospect for the spring; but Moscon was, in his own words, ‘sub-zero’, with his DNFing in virtually all the Classics. Add to that Alexey Lutsenko’s injury-enforced absence, and this was an invisible showing for the team.
Even when a heart problem brought Sonny Colbrelli’s campaign to an abrupt halt, Bahrain-Victorious’ enviable strength-in-depth made them one of the most ubiquitous teams throughout the spring. Dylan Teuns and Matej Mohorič were the stars, the former winning Flèche Wallonne and the latter another Monument for the team with Milan-San Remo, but the likes of Jan Tratnik and breakthrough Brit Fred Wight made significant contributions too.
You know what you’re going to get with Michael Matthews, and the Australian produced typically consistent performances to place fourth at Milan-San Remo and seventh at Amstel Gold. But aside from Dylan Groenewegen’s sprint for second at Brugge-De Panne, BikeExchange never really looked like winning any of the Classics.
A team these days built more towards the stage races, Bora-Hansgrohe only fleetingly made an impression in the Classics, mostly in the more climber-friendly races, with Alexsandr Vlasov placing fourth at Flèche Wallonne and Sergio Higuita fifth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Danny van Poppel was second at a windswept Scheldeprijs, and aside from finishing fifth at Dwars door Vlaanderen, Nils Politt continues to lack his legs of old.
While their departed star Christophe Laporte was one of the best performers of the spring for his new team Jumbo-Visma, Cofidis struggled to fill the void he left. Their best performer was Max Walschield, whose power over the cobbles and quick sprint earned him a win at GP Denain, a runner-up finish at Nokere Koerse, and a fourth-place at Brugge-De Panne.
Team DSM: 3/10
For DSM’s spring to be a success, they really needed one of Søren Kragh Andersen’s habitual attacks to stick, but the only time he did manage to hold off the peloton was for a fifth-place finish at Gent-Wevelgem, after a race-winning break had already formed ahead. Aside from Kragh, Sam Welsford’s third place at Scheldeprijs was their only result of note.
EF EDUCATION-EASYPOST: 2/10
As former winners of the Tour of Flanders and Amstel Gold respectively, EF Education-EasyPost will have expected much more from Alberto Bettiol and Michael Valgren, but neither rider was able to show anything like their best form. With that pair misfiring, Ruben Guerreiro’s seventh at Flèche Wallonne and Nelson Powless’ eighth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège were the team’s best result.
With three top-six finishes during Flemish week and a third-place at Paris-Roubaix, Stefan Küng was about as ubiquitous this spring as the irresistibly catchy chant devised by his fan club was in our heads. A third-place for Valentin Madouas meant the team had two Monument podium finishes, while Attila Valter, Arnaud Démare and young Brit Lewis Askey also contributed. All that was lacking was a win.
INEOS GRENADIERS: 9/10
After impressive early performances from the likes of Jhonatan Narvaez, Tom Pidcock and the spring’s breakthrough star Ben Turner, Michał Kwiatkowski's win at Amstel Gold Race opened the floodgates for the team. It was immediately followed by another well-worked victory for Magnus Sheffield at Brabantse Pijl, and then the big one: Dylan van Baarle at Paris-Roubaix, at last landing the team their first-ever cobbled Monument.
INTERMARCHÉ-WANTY-GOBERT MATERIAUX: 9/10
Biniam Girmay’s historic triumph at Gent-Wevelgem was undoubtedly the headline moment, but what really impressed about the much-improved team’s spring was just how many of their riders claimed big results. Adrian Petit and little-known Tom Devriendt defied the odds to place fourth and sixth at Paris-Roubaix, Quentin Hermans was an even more unlikely runner-up finisher at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and while other old-timers struggled to keep up with the new generation, Alexander Kristoff had another big win left in him at Scheldeprijs.
ISRAEL-PREMIER TECH: 2/10
For the first time in his 12-year career, Sep Vanmarcke was not a protagonist in the cobbled Classics, leaving Israel-Premier Tech without a rider to rally around. The Ardennes Classics fared a little better, but Michael Woods didn’t quite have his form of last year and had to settle for sixth at Flèche Wallonne and tenth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
A sublime team performance at the E3 Saxo-Bank Classic, where Wout van Aert and Christophe Laporte dropped the entire rest of the field to seal first and second, confirmed that the team had replaced Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl as the patrons of the Classics. Things went a little astray when a Covid infection forced Van Aert to miss the Tour of Flanders, but he won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and podiumed at Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège either side of that, while Laporte and Tiesj Benoot also claimed respective runner-up spots at Gent-Wevelgem and Dwars door Vlaanderen to make this a dominant spring.
The ailing form of 2021 breakthrough Florian Vermeeresch and the ageing legs of Philippe Gilbert meant Lotto-Soudal only really came to life in sprint finishes, with Caleb Ewan taking second at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, and first place at GP Jean-Pierre Monsere the best of several high finishes for young Arnaud De Lie featuring. Victory Campaearts was a revelation on the cobbles, registering top six finishes at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Le Samyn and Dwars door Vlaanderen.
Oh how Movistar will mess Alejandro Valverde when he retires this season. The veteran once again delivered them their best results this spring, runner-up finishes at Strade Bianche and Flèche Wallonne. Without him on the cobbles, Iván García’s eighth at Gent-Wevelgem was the best anyone else could muster.
QUICK-STEP ALPHA VINYL: 6/10
Whether because of an aging team, an illness that spread through the team early on, or the improvement of other teams, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl lost their stronghold on the Classics this spring. Aside from Fabio Jakobsen’s sprint win at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, they were uncharacteristically passive in their home Belgian races, as all four of Kasper Asgreen, Yves Lampaert, Florian Senechal and Zdeněk Štybar were off colour, though Remco Evenepoel was able to redeem their spring with a scintillating victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Team TOTALENERGIES: 6/10
While the generation of former Classics stars Peter Sagan, Niki Terpstra and Edvald Boasson Hagen no longer seem able to compete, a younger generation at TotalEnergies stepped up to fill the void. Anthony Turgis might have faded as the spring went on, but still managed second-place at Milan-San Remo, while Dries Van Gestel got a podium at Gent-Wevelgem and sprinted for top tens at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Le Samyn.
As the first spring for many years that the team failed to make the podium in any of the major classics, this feels like a disappointing campaign by Trek-Segafredo’s high standards. But they were still there or thereabouts in all the major races, with Jasper Stuyven, Mads Pedersen and Quinn Simmons between them finishing somewhere between fourth and eighth in each of Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
UAE TEAM EMIRATES: 8/10
Tadej Pogačar expanded his horizons this spring to ride a multitude of Classics, and the result was a huge amount of success for UAE Team Emirates, for whom he delivered victory at Strade Bianche and top fives at both Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders. Elsewhere, Matteo Trentin also won Le Samyn.
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