We rate the WorldTour teams' performances at the 2018 spring Classics
Ag2r La Mondiale 6 / 10
The team’s principal Classics rider Oliver Naesen endured all manner of bad luck throughout the spring, finding himself constantly caught up in crashes. The team’s campaign ended on a high, however, with Silvan Dillier claiming a surprise second place at Paris-Roubaix, and Romain Bardet’s second at Strade Bianche should not be forgotten.
Astana 7 / 10
Despite relying on a youthful, less established troupe of riders lead by Michael Valgren, Magnus Cort Nielsen and Alexey Lutsenko, Astana were one of the most visible teams throughout the spring. They peaked early with Michael Valgren winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in February, but the Dane’s fourth place later at the Tour of Flanders also stood out.
Bahrain-Merida 8 / 10
In the cobbled Classics, Sonny Colbrelli and Heinrich Haussler road solidly without threatening to pull off a big result. The team’s spring was defined by one day, though – Milan-San Remo, when Vincenzo Nibali stunned everyone to win the team’s second Monument in just its second season.
BMC Racing 3/10
BMC were always unlikely to again scale the heights of last season, when Greg Van Avermaet achieved a historic quadruple of Classics wins, but their regression was considerable. Despite having a strong line-up, with Stefan Küng and Jurgen Roelandts showing form, the team never really road coherently as a unit, while Van Avermaet this time only had the legs for some top five finishes.
The team enjoyed the biggest win in its history courtesy of Peter Sagan’s sublime long-range move at Paris-Roubaix, and there was success elsewhere through the world champion’s win at Ghent-Wevelgem and Pascal Ackermann’s three podium finishes in the semi-classics.
As a whole, they looked a stronger unit than last spring, with Marcus Burghardt and new signing Daniel Oss doing excellent jobs as the Sagan’s lieutenants.
Dimension Data 2/10
Unfortunately, Dimension Data were a mostly anonymous presence this spring. Mark Cavendish’s ambitions were scuppered a series of crashes, new signing Julien Vermote never quite followed through on early promise, and Edvald Boasson Hagen only has a fourth place from Dwars door Vlaanderen to show for his efforts.
EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 5/10
The team’s new pink jerseys were a common sight at the front of races, mostly due to Sep Vanmarcke consistent high placings that included sixth at Paris-Roubaix and third in both Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Dwars door Vlaanderen. The Belgian’s inability to convert strong positions and evident form into wins remains frustrating, however.
Groupama-FDJ 6 / 10
A line-up built around Arnaud Démare achieved moderate success, with the Frenchman sprinting his way to podium finishes in Milan-San Remo, Ghent-Wevelgem and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. A win remained elusive, however, and he and the rest of the team also missed out on the key selections at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
The form of young rider Nils Politt, who finished seventh at Paris-Roubaix, was encouraging, but in general the team sorely missed their departed Classics leader Alexander Kristoff. Tony Martin didn’t do much with his licence to ride more freely, while Marcel Kittel failed to win Scheldeprijs for only the second time in the last seven years.
Without their leader Lars Boom, who had to skip the Classics season while he recovers from heart surgery, LottoNL-Jumbo had few resources to animate the Classics. They did manage to claim one big win, though, with Dylan Groenewegen sprinting to victory at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
A team that always boasts plenty of Classics specialists but has lacked an outright leader for the past few years rallied behind a new star this year in the form of Tiesj Benoot, who continued to fulfil his promise by winning Strade Bianche. Elsewhere, Jens Debusschere contributed top fives in some of the semi-Classics.
It’s fair to say that Mitchelton-Scott are more concerned with stage races than the Classics these days, but this was nonetheless an underwhelming campaign. Matteo Trentin promised much but couldn’t manage a result better than seventh at Ghent-Wevelgem, although Caleb Ewan did bring them a second-place finish at Milan-San Remo
While Movistar’s star names were out conquering the early season stage races, their Classics squad went by the spring virtually unnoticed. Alejandro Valverde impressed on his rare visit to Belgium to finish 11th at Dwars door Vlaanderen, but opted not to ride the Tour of Flanders – indicative, perhaps, of the team’s lack of interest in the cobbled Classics.
Quick-Step Floors 10/10
We’re used to Quick-Step Floors being the strongest Classics team, but this year they dominated to an absurd degree. At times they looked unbeatable, winning nine Classics in the space of just five weeks, through six different riders. Most importantly of all, they won the big one – the Tour of Flanders, courtesy of Niki Terpstra.
Team Sky 4/10
A lack of fitness (Luke Rowe had to recover from a broken leg), form (Ian Stannard never really got going) and different priorities (Michal Kwiatkowski and Geraint Thomas limited their time on the cobbles to focus on stages races) meant Team Sky generally had a Classics season to forget. There were positives, though, in the form of Lukasz Wisniowski’s second at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and youngster Kristoffer Halvorsen’s second at the Handzame Classic.
There was much interest in how Michael Matthews would perform on the cobbles, but, though he managed reasonable 13th place finished at Ghent-Wevelgem and E3 Harelbeke, a crash sustained at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad prevented him from riding in full fitness all spring. On the plus side, the team unearthed a new talent in Dwars door Vlaanderen runner-up Mike Teunissen
The highlight of Trek-Segafredo’s spring was undoubtedly Mads Pedersen’s breakthrough ride to finish second at the Tour of Flanders. His youthful potential is matched by Jasper Stuyven, who continued to develop with a series of consistent top-10s in all the biggest races, that compensated for John Degenkolb’s indifferent form.
UAE Team Emirates 3 / 10
The team was reliant of Alexander Kristoff for results, and the Norwegian wasn’t able to deliver. Fourth at Milan-San Remo was as good as it got, as the European champion was not his usual self on the cobbles – for the first time since 2012 he failed to make the top five at the Tour of Flanders, and a crashed marred his chances at Paris-Roubaix.