Ag2r La Mondiale 6/10
A Tour de France that started out with huge promise petered out the closer they came to Paris. Romain Bardet crashed out of the race with concussion on stage 13 while ranking fourth overall, Benoît Cosnefroy lost the polka-dot jersey on stage 17 having held it for the past fortnight, and nobody else came close to a stage win after Nans Peters success in the first week.
The team put all their eggs into one basket, then dropped that basket halfway into the race. Everyone was tasked with protecting Nario Quintana, who, after a solid start, was dropped on Grand Colombier during stage 15, and continued to lose time as he apparently suffered the after-effects of a couple of crashes suffered earlier in the race. They were unable to bounce back with any breakaway success afterwards.
They didn’t make any friends attacking on a descent during the opening stage’s downpour, inadvertently causing their own leader, Miguel Ángel López, to crash, but from that point on Astana protected the Colombian well, setting him up for a spectacular stage win atop the Cole de la Loze. His podium hopes might have capitulated on the final time trial, after which he tumbled from third to sixth on GC, but an earlier Alexey Lutsenko breakaway stage win ensures that this was a successful Tour.
Widely lambasted for their tactics on stage 17, when their bold pace-setting over the Col de la Madeleine and Col de la Loze succeeded only in dropping the man they were trying to set up for an attack, Bahrain-McLaren nevertheless ended the Tour well, helping Mikel Landa to jump to fourth overall. They could not, however, turn their obvious strength into either a stage win or a podium finish in Paris.
B&B Hotels-Vital Concept 4/10
Try as they might, this French wildcard team couldn’t quite land a stage win. Bryan Coquard had the chance of a lifetime when he made the split caused by the crosswinds on the road to Lavaur, but only managed to sprint for third, while for all his attacking in the mountains, Pierre Rolland was neither able to win a stage nor take the polka-dot jersey.
Despite riding very impressively as a team, things just didn’t fall into place for Bora-Hansgrohe this year. Their GC hope, Emanuel Buchmann, fell out of contention in the first week, and their aggressive racing wasn’t enough to save Peter Sagan from a rare defeat in the points classification. Lennard Kämna’s win in the Vercors — the day after he and Max Schachmann squandered a numerical advantage to finish second and third behind Dani Martínez (EF Pro Cycling), a finish that epitomised their frustrations throughout the Tour — was their one triumph.
This was a stronger team that CCC brought to the Tour compared to last year, which only made their failure once again to make an impact all the more frustrating. Greg Van Avermaet, Simon Geschke, and Matteo Trentin were regulars in breakaways, with the latter devoting himself to the points classification (in which he finished third), but none were able to claim the longed-for stage win, while poor descending prevented Ilnur Zakarin from doing so on the first stage in the Pyrenees.
The team’s new signing and major hope Elia Viviani flopped in the sprints, only managing a couple of top-five finishes, but Guillame Martin initially impressed in the mountains, before fading in the race’s second half to slip from third overall to 11th. Their 12-year wait for a stage win continues, though, despite some agonising near misses from Martin, who was third in an uphill sprint on Orcières-Merlette, and Jesús Herrada on stage six, who finished second behind Alexey Lutsenko.
They might not have racked up quite as huge a haul of stage wins in the sprints as they have in the past, but Deceuninck-Quick-Step enjoyed a different kind of success this year, helping guide a consistent and resolute Sam Bennett to victory in the points classification, as well as two bunch sprint wins. Meanwhile Julian Alaphilippe was unable to repeat his heroics from last year, but still managed a stage win in Nice plus a short stint in yellow during the first week.
EF Pro Cycling 6/10
This was a Tour of mixed fortunes for EF Pro Cycling’s trident of exciting Colombians. Twenty-four-year-old Daniel Martínez crashed in the first week and fell out of GC contention, but bounced back brilliantly to win on Puy Mary; Rigoberto Urán rode flawlessly over the first two weeks to place third overall on the final rest day, only to fall to eighth overall; and Sergio Higuita abandoned on stage 15.
In hindsight, Groupama-FDJ’s hopes effectively ended on the very first day, when their sole leader Thibaut Pinot crashed and sustained the injuries that would see him fall hopelessly out of contention in the Pyrenees. From that point on they reported to hopeful breakaways, with Sébastian Reichenbach faring best with a third-place finish on the stage in the Vercors.
Ineos Grenadiers 4/10
How the mighty have fallen. Not only were Ineos Grenadiers thoroughly outshone by rivals Jumbo-Visma, their leader Egan Bernal dramatically fell apart in the Alps and eventually abandoned, making this the first Tour de France since 2014 that the team has failed to win. Michał Kwiatkowski and Richard Carapaz at least managed to save the team’s honour with a photo-friendly one-two on stage 18.
Israel Start-Up Nation 2/10
It was an underwhelming Tour de France debut for Israel Start-Up Nation. Dan Martin was unable to muster a GC challenge and fared no better from the breakaways he managed to get into, while the likes of Nils Politt and Ben Hermans managed to periodically get into breaks without making much of an impression. Fourth from Hugo Hofstetter on the stage three bunch sprint in Sisteron was their best result.
From day one, when road captain Tony Martin took it upon himself to neutralise the race in the rain, Jumbo-Visma sought to assert themselves, and that they did throughout the race, first to take the yellow jersey for Primož Roglič in the first week, then defend it over the next fortnight with their imposing squad of climbing super-domestiques.
Primož Roglič couldn’t quite deliver when left to his own devices in the penultimate day time trial, where he lost yellow, but on the whole this was still a serious display of strength from the team — particularly from Wout van Aert, who defied normal cycling rules to win two bunch sprints and ride with the best climbers in the Alps.
No team was hit harder by the opening stage carnage than Lotto-Soudal, who lost Philippe Gilbert to a crash and John Degenkolb to the time limit. But they managed to bounce back excellently, and helped Caleb Ewan to a couple of bunch sprint victories.
A time penalty for Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe handed Adam Yates the yellow jersey on stage five, and he stubbornly held on to it for another three days. His good form encouraged him to switch from hunting stage wins to going for a high place on GC, although he couldn’t carry it into the final week and fell to ninth overall. The team were conspicuous by their absence in the breakaways, although Luka Mezgec twice managed to sprint for second-place.
You’d be hard-pressed to remember a single Movistar doing anything these past three weeks, yet still managed to win the team classification. Their cautious but steady approach was epitomised by Enric Mas, who improved as the race went on to finish fifth overall. Given reduced expectations following the departure of their star riders, that’s a decent return, albeit rather boringly achieved.
NTT Pro Cycling 3/10
The team had high hopes for sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo, who got off to a good start with third on stage three, but wound up abandoning later that week. After that they tried their luck with breakaways, but no-one managed better than Edvald Boasson Hagen’s second-place on stage seven.
Team Sunweb 9/10
In the absence of Michael Matthews their young roster stepped up and did better than anyone could have expected. Søren Kragh Andersen was the canny victory of two stage wins, their excellent lead-out train helped Cees Bol to a couple of top-three sprint finishes, and 22-year-old Marc Hirschi was the revelation of the race, unleashing a number of monstrous attacks to take home both a stage victory and the super-combativity award.
Total Direct Energie 5/10
This was a quintessential wildcard-French-selection performance from a quintessential wildcard-French-selection team. Almost their entire roster was involved in a breakaway at some point in the race, meaning we became familiar with their blue and red jerseys, even if they didn’t come near to winning anything.
This didn’t look like a team set for a GC bid, but Richie Porte rolled back the years to ride the best Tour of his career at the grand age of 35, delivering the team its first podium finish since Andy Schleck back in 2011. A stage win would have been the cherry on the cake, and Mads Pedersen (second on the Champs-Élysées and in Nice), Toms Skujiņš (second on the first Pyrenean stage) and Porte himself (third in the time trial and on Grand Colombier) all came very close.
UAE Emirates 10/10
Tadej Pogačar was a bit of a one-man show, but what a show that was. Despite losing key mountain lieutenants Fabio Aru and Davide Formolo either side of the first rest day, the Slovenian road with freedom and aplomb in the mountains to win a stage each in the Pyrenees and the Alps, and then produced one of the all-time great Tour de France performances in the time trial to win the overall classification — reclaiming the yellow jersey the team had first gained on the opening stage thanks to Alexander Kristoff.
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