AG2R La Mondiale 6/10
Pierre Latour was the biggest name in an inexperienced line-up, and nearly won on the fearsome Los Machucos mountain top finish, but it was Geoffrey Bouchard on his Grand Tour debut who emerged as the star man, climbing aggressively to win the King of the Mountains classification.
After winning the opening team time trial and playing hot potato with the red jersey throughout the first week, Astana failed to deliver on a promising start, as an inconsistent Miguel Ángel López only managed an underwhelming fifth overall. On the plus side, Jakob Fuglsang managed a consolation stage win.
The team enjoyed one day defending the red jersey courtesy of Dylan Teuns, who also spent much of the race hovering around the top ten. Hermann Pernsteiner was a revelation in the mountains, but inconsistency meant he only finished 15th overall.
As at the Giro, the team were the dominant force in the bunch sprints, this time courtesy of Sam Bennett, who won two stages and was second on three other occasions. Rafał Majka also repeated his Giro result with a solid sixth overall.
Last in the team time trial felt like a bad omen, but the wildcard team bounced back sensationally. Ángel Madrazo and Jetse Bol’s one-two on stage five was the highlight, while Madrazo also enjoyed a memorable two week spell in the King of the Mountains jersey.
Caja Rural 6/10
The only wildcard team not to win a stage, Caja Rural nevertheless impressed by coming very close. Their most eye-catching rider was Alex Aranburu, who road aggressively throughout and twice finished second.
CCC Team 3/10
Another quiet Grand Tour for the Polish team would have been rescued as a success had Jumbo-Visma’s Primož Roglič not robbed Patrick Bevin of a time trial at the last minute. They sorely missed Victor de la Parte, who abandoned on stage six after a promising start.
Jesús Herrada avenged the narrow defeat of his brother Jose on stage five with a stage win of his own, and days later Nicolas Edet had the honour of defending the red jersey for a day. For a wildcard team, that’s about as much as you could ask for.
We’ve grown accustomed to Deceuninck-Quick-Step accumulating huge hauls of stage wins at Grand Tours, but not quite in this manner. Only two came in bunch sprints this time, through Fabio Jakobsen, while the rest came from breakaways - twice with Philippe Gilbert, and once with Rémi Cavagna.
Dimension Data 1/10
With Edvlad Boasson Hagen, Lois Meintjes, Ben O’Connor and last year’s double-stage winner Ben King all starting, Dimension Data had the talent to avoid yet another anonymous Grand Tour showing, but once again none of their riders delivered.
EF Education First 6/10
Rigoberto Urán’s GC bid ended with a first week crash, while Lawson Craddock had to make do with frustrating near misses in his mission to win a stage, but a new star emerged in the form of young Colombian Sergio Higuita, who road to glory on a mountainous stage 18.
Amid rumours that they be set to fold at the end of the season, Euskadi-Murias raised their profile in the best possible way as Mikel Iturria won a stage in the team’s home Basque Country region.
Missing their star riders, a young Groupama-FDJ squad failed to make much of an impression. Their best performers were Marc Sarreau, who claimed a fourth and a fifth in the bunch sprints, and Tobias Ludvigsson, who has an active presence in the break.
Neither Wout Poels nor Tao Geoghegan Hart took advantage of a rare chance to ride GC for themselves, both falling out of contention as early as stage two. Hart attempted to bounce back by constantly attacking over the course of the rest of the race, but couldn’t land that longed-for stage win.
Despite crashing in the opening team time trial stage, this was a far stronger Jumbo-Visma line-up than that which often left Primož Roglič isolated at the Giro earlier this season, this time giving the Slovenian the support he needed to win the overall classification. So confident were they of success that Sepp Kuss was allowed to ride for himself to win stage 15.
It’s hard to recall Katusha-Alpecin doing anything throughout the race, with Ruben Guerreiro’s second place on stage 15 the only highlight. The team’s best riders were left at home, but they still would have expected more from the likes of Dani Navarro and Enrico Battaglin.
Under the shadow of Bjorg Lambrecht’s tragic death last month, the team soldiered on. Carl Frederik Hagen was a surprise eighth place finisher overall, while Tosh Van Der Sande road combatively for two third place finishes.
Esteban Chaves again looked a shadow of his former self, fading away from the top of GC after a promising first week. Mikel Nieve battled to creep into the top 10 in the last couple of stages, but a lack of any stage wins and the premature abandonment of an on-form Luka Mezgec made this a bad tour by Mitchelton-Scott’s high standards.
What to make of Movisar’s Vuelta? On one hand, it was another messy Grand Tour of incoherent tactics and obvious internal tensions, where they made enemies by attacking the red jersey on stage 19 after he’d fallen. On the other hand, they placed Alejandro Valverde second and Nairo Quintana fourth, picked up a couple of stages with the same two riders, and won the team classification at a canter.
An exceptional opening week saw Nicolas Roche spend three days in the red jersey and Nikias Arndt land a stage win from a breakaway. From then on the focus shifted towards Wilco Kelderman’s bid for GC, which ended in a solid if unspectacular seventh overall.
Despite bringing both John Degenkolb and Edward Theuns, the team were conspicuous by their absence in the sprints, with the former’s second place finish on stage three the only highlight. Elsewhere they were largely anonymous, with only Gianluca Brambilla catching the eye by getting into breaks.
UAE Team Emirates 9/10
Despite Fernando Gaviti’a lack of form and Fabio Aru’s early abandonment, UAE Team Emirates’ race was a resounding success thanks to one man - Tadej Pogačar. The emerging superstar astonished everyone to win three stage wins in the mountains , most sensationally of all attacking nearly 40km from the finish on the penultimate stage to seal both a podium finish overall and the white jersey.
Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Stephen Puddicombe is a freelance journalist for Cycling Weekly, who regularly contributes to our World Tour racing coverage with race reports, news stories, interviews and features. Outside of cycling, he also enjoys writing about film and TV - but you won't find much of that content embedded into his CW articles.
'They come to my country and kill kids': UCI's decision to allow Russian riders at World Championships draws passionate reaction
There has been a mixed response to the UCI's decision to allow Russian and Belarusian riders the opportunity to return to the international stage.
By Chris Marshall-Bell • Published
'I’m just bloody happy to win': Tao Geoghegan Hart delighted at ending long wait without a win
Ineos Grenadiers rider celebrates his first victory since the 2020 Giro d'Italia
By Chris Marshall-Bell • Published