Ag2r La Mondiale 3/10
A total of 14 wins in 2019 may seem reasonable at first glance, but take a closer look and things don’t look so great – just three came outside of France, and only two at WorldTour level. The team’s biggest disappointment came at the Tour, where star rider Romain Bardet was well short of top form.
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Astana absolutely dominated stage races at the start of the season, enjoying an extraordinary run of nine overall victories between mid-February to mid-April. Those success provided the bulk of their 39 wins (the fourth highest total in the WorldTour), but the season highlights came later courtesy of Jakob Fuglsang, who triumphed at both Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Critérium du Dauphiné.
For the first time since the team’s inception in 2017, Vincenzo Nibali failed to deliver Bahrain-Merida a Monument victory, although second place at the Giro d’Italia – and a total of 17 wins across the team – was still a decent return. What should have been their most triumphant day was marred in internal fall-outs and acrimony, however, as Rohan Dennis won time trial gold at the World Championships on a non-trade team bike, and just days later confirmed his departure.
So much more than just the Peter Sagan team, Bora-Hansrohe fired on all cylinders this year, and it was the sprinting duo of Sam Bennett and Pascal Ackermann rather than the Slovak who contributed the bulk of their 47-win haul, including multiple stages at Grand Tours. On top of that, they’re also becoming an emerging force in Grand Tour GC races, with Emanuel Buchmann especially impressive with fourth overall at the Tour.
CCC Team 2/10
It was a tough first season for the team formed from the ashes of the previous BMC outfit. Of the other WorldTour teams, only Katusha-Alpecin registered fewer victories than their six, and star-man Greg Van Avermaet began to show his age and won just the single classic (GP de Montréal).
2019 was another year of relentless success for the peerless Deceuninck-Quick-Step, with some highlights of their 70 wins including Philippe Gilbert at Paris-Roubaix, Zdeněk Štybar at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and E3 Harelbeke, Remco Evenepoel at San Sebastian and the European time trial title, and four stage wins at the Vuelta.
Their star performer was Julian Alaphilippe, who followed an historic treble of Milan-San Remo, Strade Bianche and Flèche Wallonne with a gutsy, inspiring stint in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France that captured the imagination of a nation, and suggested that the next frontier for this apparently limitless team could be overall victory at the Tour one day.
Dimension Data 1/10
It’s easy to forget that Dimension Data are still a part of the WorldTour, so anonymous were their performances this season. Mark Cavendish is showing no signs that he can return to his best, while the rest of the squad haven’t managed to step up. Hopefully a rebrand next year with sponsors NTT can infuse a much needed new lease of life in the team.
EF Education First 6/10
Alberto Bettiol’s surprise triumph at the Tour of Flanders was the clear highlight of EF Education First’s 17 wins, the team’s highest total since 2014. Their Grand Tour GC bids might have all ended in frustration, but a promising new generation of Colombian climbers continued to develop through Daniel Martínez and Vuelta stage winner Sergio Higuita.
The likes of Arnaud Démare, Stefan Küng and Marc Serreau performed steadily throughout the season (predominantly in small French races) to quietly accumulate a strong total of 24 wins. Things got very exciting in July when it looked for a moment as though Thibaut Pinot might be about to win the Tour de France, with his subsequent withdrawal through illness a bitter pill to swallow.
Team Ineos 8/10
On one hand, Ineos were not the unstoppable force of previous seasons, producing underwhelming showings at the Giro, Vuelta and Classics, and falling short of 30 wins for the first time since 2014. Nonetheless, they still managed to achieve their main aim with flying colours by placing Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas first and second at the Tour de France, and won three other WorldTour stage races courtesy of Bernal and fellow young prodigy Pavel Sivakov.
Jumbo-Visma’s rapid growth into becoming among the very elite forces in world cycling continued apace in 2019. Primož Roglič won the Vuelta and a host of other stage races, the Tour de France produced a podium for Steven Kruijwisjk and four stage wins, and the prolific Dylan Groenewegen won more races than any other rider in the peloton, all contributing to a half century of victories and what was arguably the best season ever in the team’s decades long history.
The poor form and subsequent retirement of star sprinter Marcel Kittel left Katusha-Alpecin directionless and lacking in much of a plan, and the team could only muster a meagre tally of just five wins. A Giro stage win for Ilnur Zakarin and second place for Nils Politt at Paris-Roubaix were rare moments of success.
Lotto-Soudal were dependent on new signing Caleb Ewan for success, and the Australian delivered with aplomb, accounting for nearly half of the team’s 23 victories. His and the team’s zenith came at the Tour de France, where he sprinted to three stage wins, including the big one on the Champs-Élysées, with the irrepressible Thomas De Gendt adding another stage.
The team’s performance at the Tour de France was a microcosm for their season as a whole. They were prolific, picking up four stage wins (as part of an overall season total of 36, the fifth highest in the WorldTour). But Adam Yates was unable to mount a GC challenge, much like his brother Simon at the Giro and Esteban Chaves at the Vuelta.
Their tactics may continue to baffle us at times, and their star riders don’t always appear to get along, but you can’t argue with some of the success Movistar achieved this season. Richard Carapaz’s overall victory at the Giro was the team’s first at Grand Tour level for nearly three years, while stalwart Alejandro Valverde continued to defy his age with second overall at the Vuelta and at Il Lombardia.
Team Sunweb 3/10
A serious injury suffered by Tom Dumoulin derailed Sunweb’s season, as the rest of the team could only muster nine wins between them. These are worrying signs for a team that needs to adjust to the Dutchman’s departure next year, but hope reigns in eye-catching performances from youngsters like Cees Bol, Marc Hirschi and Jai Hindley.
What was shaping up to be a poor season for Trek-Segafredo ended with a bang, as Mads Pedersen was crowned world champion in Yorkshire and Bauke Mollema delivered the team their first Monument since 2014 at Il Lombardia. As well as Pedersen, Giulio Cicccone was another young rider to impress via the mountains classification at the Giro and a couple of days in yellow at the Tour – crucial signs of development in a team whose ageing star rider, Richie Porte, appears to be past his peak.
UAE Emirates 7/10
If you’d have said at the start of the season that UAE Emirates would end 2019 with arguably the sport’s hottest young prospects on their books, we’d have assumed you were talking about new signing Fernando Gaviria. Instead, however, it was 21-year old Slovenian Tadej Pogačar who formed the cornerstone of what was easily the team’s most successful season since its inception in 2017, winning the Tour of California and three stages of the Vuelta, while an injury-plagued Gaviria’s more modest haul included a stage at the Giro.