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14-04-2021 12:32
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SotD's Pro Tour Preview 2020
SotD
Hi everyone.

I haven't been very active in the preview-section for a couple of seasons, but seeing as no one have yet picked up the descriptive preview-depeche that we used to enjoy reading, I have decided to give it ago. With just one day to go in terms of Race planning deadline, it should be now or never!

The format is rather simple. This first post is fixed for the ultimate ranking guess, while the scriptive setup is fit into the upcoming 4 posts.

The first two will include 6 teams, while the remaining two will fit the last 2x 5 Pro Tour sides.

We will try to list the better riders, and evaluate on the team overall strength during the team post, but will keep the final position in this post... Once a section have been updated I will write a post linking to the updated section.

Just to make sure you guys aren't waiting for too long I will post up the first team in the first post. Feel free to comment the setup and the team while I write up the remaining details before updating the first 6 teams post.

Enjoy!


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PositionTeam Name
1Evonik - ELKO
2Isostar - Specialized
3Gazelle
4Team Puma - SAP
5Generali
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6Festina - OAKA
7eBuddy
8Moser - Sygic
9Air France - KLM
10Bennelong - Mitchelton
11Aker - MOT
12Aegon - Peroni
13EA Vesuvio
14Team UBS
15Volvo acc. by Spotify
16Team Tinkoff - La Datcha
----------
17King Power
18Rakuten Pro Cycling
19ISA - Hexacta
20Grieg-Maersk
21Indosat Ooredoo
22cycleYorkshire

Edited by SotD on 03-11-2020 11:01
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SotD
Aegon – Peroni
Last season result: 10th [PT]


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Lead GC rider: Daan Olivier (#51 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Sean De Bie (#38 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: Dylan Groenewegen (#13 IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Nathan van Hooydonck (#382 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Rafael Valls (#11 IR [CT])

The Aegon setup have become a PT regular by now and the team is ready for more. Last season, sprinter Dylan Groenewegen showed the proper fast guys how it’s done. We can’t really expect him to play out as spectacular again, but if he somehow ends up being so this side could well prove to be a top side. Sean De Bie have moved from being one of those regular top 10 finishers to being within the very top flight of the Ardennes type riders. He is a very competent rider that is not only strong uphill, but also fast and with a decent TT setup.

Daan Olivier will lead the team in the GC fight, and while he is competent he lacks the top level of several PT leaders. He is fairly strong in the hills and won’t lose energy on the flat terrain, so he should be a certain top 10 aspirant in most races however. The team also have riders like Peter Velits, Rafael Valls and Giulio Ciccone whom will most likely land decent points here and there aswell as Edoardo Zardini as a bit of a toolbox for those mountain/hill undecided races.

Despite having a decent mass of cobbled talent, Nathan van Hooydonck is the leader of the team, and it is not likely that we will see him perform big results – possibly with the Tour of Northern Europe as a sole example of the opposite.

The team doesn’t excel in timetrials, but have enough quality to see them perform reasonably well in a TTT setup if needed.

Overall a decent looking Pro Tour setup, that isn’t likely to be in the top flight, but also have enough quality to see them stay clear of the imminent relegation battle. Much will be up to De Bie and Groenewegen however.


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Air France - KLM
Last season result: 4th [PT]


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Lead GC rider: Romain Sicard (#10 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Edvald Boasson Hagen (#4 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: Peter Kennaugh (#25 IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Salvatore Puccio (#388 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Sven Erik Bystrom (#28 IR [PCT])

Air France had a revival of the major ones last season to finish 4th, which is actually the best ever season since the team was called Credit Agricole in the very early days (2008 – 3rd place). The team have historically speaking been struggling to keep up and have a vast majority of results in the area of 12-19 in the PT. The result was mainly down to a reborn Romain Sicard who was here, there and everywhere. And the French revelation is here yet again in what will be the last of his really productive days. Romain Sicard have a history of sending a Pro Tour team down to PCT – or maybe even disbandment so it is nice to see him actually making a positive presence!

Enough of this French rider, though. The team also have the Norwegian superstar Edvald Boasson Hagen, and while he may have started a slow degeneration the added racedays will surely see him continue at his peak for atleast one more season. At his side is a new name to the team in Sven Erik Bystrom who adds a very nice depth core for the team.

In the sprints Peter Kennaugh had a very strong season last time, and could be chasing Groenewegen for “revelation of the season”. From here on it goes slowly downhill though. After the loss of Nairo Quintana the team is lacking a secondary GC leader which leaves quite a bit of room for guys like Salinas, Koch and Rosch to find their way. It’s unlikely that either will score big points though.

In the cobbles the team move from Arman Kamyshev to Salvatore Puccio – A significant loss, despite Kamyshev never really performing that well at the biggest league.

In many ways Air France resemblances Aegon – Peroni quite a lot, but I do believe their leaders are just a tad stronger. They also have a very nice core of decent timetriallists that can pick up points here and there. I would expect Air France to fare worse than last season, but a safe midtable finish seems likely.


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Aker - MOT
Last season result: 7th [PT]


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Lead GC rider: Rein Taaramäe (#2 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Michal Kwiatkowski (#5 IR [PCT])
Lead sprinter: Nihal Silva (#399 IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Hampus Anderberg (#190 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Fredrik Strand Galta (#66 IR [PT])

Last season Aker was on many lips as one of the pre-season favorites. This time it seems like they have gone a bit under the radar, but in all honesty they do have a decent setup! With 3 riders very capable of landing GC success, this is a team that have clearly spent some time looking into the races actually on offer, rather than trying to swoop success everywhere.

A fading Taaramäe can absolutely not be discounted yet, and will still score a massive amount of points – who knows if he still have a Grand Tour win left in him? And with the always present Fredrik Strand Galta ready to pick up where Taaramäe isn’t this is a very competent team for the climbs. The new addition to the team, Michal Kwiatkowski also landed a fair bit of training in his last possible try, which makes him a very strong puncheur who is also a very strong GC rider. We have to accept the fact that Kwiatkowski isn’t among the 5 strongest puncheurs in the division however.

Having mentioned the climbing trio, however, the team seems to come to a very abrupt stop in terms of top quality. Nihal Silva is likely the teams finest sprinter, which says quite a lot about preferences, and Hampus Anderberg – however talented – surely isn’t ready to fight for top cobbled results either.

An often overlooked quality however could be in terms of U25 points, and the team have both Aranburu and Amexawa – Tobias Foss to a minor extend, that can all pick up decent points here and there too. Finally we have to acknowledge Andreas Vangstad as a decent pointscorer as proven in the past.

If planning goes well, and the GC results go Akers way, it could be a fairly interesting season, but if not – it could be a long and tiresome season altogether, as many races will see them without an actual leader. Is that viable at PT level? Time will tell!


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Bennelong - Mitchelton
Last season result: 11th [PT]


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Lead GC rider: Lachlan Morton (#15 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Jack Bobridge (#87 IR [PCT])
Lead sprinter: Leigh Howard (#29 IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Tom David (#128 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Jack Haig (#59 IR [PT])

The all-out oceanic setup, Bennelong was hit hard last season by the added influence of MO stat to top puncheurs and the reduced influence of ACC, hence setting back Jack Bobridge whom otherwise have been seen as a key member of the team. There is certainly an amount of fingers crossed within the team, that the changes to the calender will yet again see Jack become one of the finest puncheurs, though. And if it does, this team is in a very favorable position!

The Australian GC setup with Lachlan Morton and Jack Haig in focus is a very competent duo that cover most races very nicely, both even with a good chance of top 5s here and there. Especially Jack Haig have taken a good development, while the better climber, Morton is still very competent at the very top of the division.

In the pure sprints, Leigh Howard showed very good progress last season and was one of those elite sprinters that scored close to 1000 points, where obviously stronger sprinters also landed. And with the experienced sprinter Cam Meyer at the team we can expect to see Bennelong performing rather well in many sprints over the course of the season.

Tom David join the team as the lead cobbler, and the former Festina-talent have shown that he is capable of performing well in the longer and more durable cobbled races. He also add a good depth value in terms of his puncheur-skills, but we must also recognize the fact that there is a long way to the top level cobblers and puncheurs for the still untrained Tom David!

Bennelong have a bit of everything, and a couple of riders that can provide top points if all goes well. We remain unsure about an actual position though as much come down to how well the tampering behind the scenes actually work. The TTT setup of the team is still strong, but it’s unlikely that we will see ITT’s won – which is very odd looking at the teams history!


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cycleYorkshire
Last season result: 5th [PCT]


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Lead GC rider: Louis Meintjes (#18 IR [PCT])
Lead puncheur: Jay McCarthy (#112 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: Sondre Holst Enger (#191 IR [PCT])
Lead cobbler: Andrew Fenn (#173 IR [PCT])
Honorable mention: Jerome Coppel (#11 IR [PCT])

We wish to bid a warm welcome to the first of the promoted PCT teams, who are now going to make their first attempt to stay up and do well! In many ways this is a “new” setup, and we also get to see some familiar aswell as unfamiliar names within the team.

The first thing that strikes the eye is the lack of a top GC rider. Louis Meintjes have a lot going for him surely, but the combination of 80MO and 78HI is a PCT leader and not a PT leader worthy. That said he will score points at this level – for sure! With some proper planning he could become one of those hidden gems that perform very well in the multiverse of hills and mountains. But he will probably have to look for alternative paths to really shine. With him is Tim Kennaugh, who is more of a classic GC rider – but unfortunately the still untrained (I think) Kennaugh is more of a domestiqe kind of PT rider.

If we move elsewhere we find Jay McCarthy who on paper is much better suited to the life of PT, and have a history there too. Unfortunately he is in the same boat as Jack Bobridge where it remains uncertain to what extend we can expect to see him fully deliver. The combination of low flat and mountain gives him some disadvantages that we are way too familiar with at this level. Jonathan Bellis on the other hand have proven capable of securing some surprise results here and there from the desimated bunch sprints in very tough finales.

Sondre Holst Enger is back leading the way as a main sprinter, and I see no reason to believe he should fall short. He is a very competent sprinter with also a strong TT/PRL setup. Whether or not Fenn and van Baarle can deliver cobbled results at this level remains to be seen as neither have the full on qualities to be a guaranteed success.

Moving away from the usual terrains however we spot something interesting. The combination of Jerome Coppel and Luke Durbridge – heck we can even include van Baarle too, we see the team finding a shortcut to imminent success! The timetriallists aren’t looking the strongest at PT level, and many of the better timetriallist have their focus elsewhere, such as Phinney and Taaramäe! Despite of this loophole spotted I struggle to see this – otherwise wellrounded – setup having the needed firepower to stay inside the PT. And looking at the ages of most leaders, we could see a big rebuild next season – whether or not the relegation battle will be successful.


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EA Vesuvio
Last season result: 14th [PT]


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Lead GC rider: Andy Schleck (#65 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Tejay van Garderen (#31 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: Nick van der Lijke (#73 IR [PC])
Lead cobbler: Ivan Centrone (#480 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Caio Godoy (#119 IR [PT])

EA Vesuvio is easily one of the most successful teams in the game, if not the one and only! Coming from Saunier Duval, SportingNonsense managed to lead the way to imminent glory winning the very first edition of the Man-Game. Since then another two PT wins and a total of 11 top 5 PT results! Only twice have the team been outside the top 5 – In 2010 when the Accumalux – Huez side finished 6th and then the very poor show of the 2019 season where the setup was at one point in danger of relegation – ending up 14th!

The large amount of degeneration of Luxembourgian cyclists had taken it’s toll, and thus the team had to look for other opportunities for success. The team is still lead by numerous GT winner, Andy Schleck though – and while he isn’t a prime rider anymore he’s still capable of landing top 10GC results. What is impressive however is the depth that also looks to Caio Godoy, Alex Kirsch, Marc Goos and Tom Wirtgen. All of which have the quality to finish in the region of 10-20th in most GC races. The versatility also gives the planning edge, as Goos and Wirtgen are strong against the clock while Kirsch and Godoy are more classic climbers.

To add to the former puncheur leader, Ben Gastauer, we also have the American Tejay van Garderen now. The American have been an elite puncheur for many seasons and is still one of the top puncheurs in the division.

Nick van der Lijke is a very solid sprinter, and whenever needing a leadout Holloway and Afewerki should do the trick. Despite being a good sprinter, van der Lijke is often struggling with the fact that a couple of similar sprinters are also present in key races – and mostly he loses that battle.

The team lack cobbled firepower and only Bob Jungels (of the unmentioned) add a real stagewinning potential. Overall the team is stronger than last season – but not by much! It would take a massive planning effort to see Vesuvio in the upper end of the ranking, but I also feel fairly confident that it will not be a relegating team!
Edited by SotD on 03-11-2020 10:39
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SotD
eBuddy
Last season result: 12th [PT]


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Lead GC rider: Joseph Dombrowski (#14 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Ian Boswell (#139 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: Eduard Grosu (#17 IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Floris Gerts (#60 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Danny van Poppel (#172 IR [PT])

In 2010 Jack Wolfskin presented themselves as a future longterm PT team after promoting from the division (C2 at the time). During the days first Project 1t4i and later eBuddy emerged from the “ashes”. The setup have a fairly interesting history of a very stable midtable team with just very few ups and downs. In 2017 the team landed the best ever performance with an 8th while the worst result was back in 2014 the team had 13th as the final get go. No other teams in the history of the game have been within 6 spots in their entire history (more than a couple of seasons).

Looking at the team it seems very likely that this season will be no different! Dombrowski leads the way as the best climber in the team, and with him are his trusted domestiques Brambilla, Aru and Majka – so not much have changed except for Brambilla no longer a part of the subtop GC riders. Dombrowski can win races – no doubt – but I don’t think he will. He will land a bunch of podiums however.

In the hills Ian Boswell is not what he was at his peak – not that he has become a worse rider, but he is simply overtaken on the inside by numerous riders, and instead of a solid top 10 rider, he is now more likely to finish in the region of 15th. He does have a lot of racedays though, so he could land a couple of top results.

Eduard Grosu is one of the 5 best sprinters in the world, and he have a very solid leadout in form of Danny van Poppel who is also likely to get a lof of chances himself.

Finally the cobbled setup of the team have become quite impressive. Floris Gerts is slowly moving into the very elite of cobbled riders, and with him he brings a stellar punch, that not many can follow – no on actually if the race is cobbled. Gerts works pretty well as a puncheur too and thus brings a very good allround figure, that most PT teams dream of. As a final threat we see strong man Lammertink who can win timetrials if planned well. So overall we see a team very great qualities in most areas, but not any superior winning riders. It seems very likely that eBuddy will keep safe midzone, and may be dreaming of more – let’s see!


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Evonik - ELKO
Last season result: 12th [PT]


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Lead GC rider: Miguel Angel Lopez (#48 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Toms Skujins (#34 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: Michael van Stayen (#28 IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Adam Blythe (#52 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: William Chiarello (#45 IR [PCT])

Evonik saw the dawn of light in 2014 as partly Signal Iduna, but it wasn’t until 2016 we saw them in the PT. Despite back to back promotions the team didn’t excel in any of their early seasons, but they made an immediate presence at PT level landing first 7th and then 3rd. This season they are definitely targeting the crown!

In the high mountains they may struggle to win races, but the depth is impressive nonetheless with fairly cheap GC leaders such as Chiarello, Vosekalns and Tvetcov, and even more depth from there. We are likely going to see these riders in every single GC race of the season where something resembling a mountain is present. And we are also likely to see them having stage and KOM success, and from time to time even landing a good GC result.

Where they are truly scary though is the hills. Newly developed Miguel Angel Lopez create a duo with already strong Toms Skujins as they can target different races throughout the calender, always being in the mix for a top result! Michael van Stayen is the final card to the hilly setup, and boy is he fast too! He’s one of the 3 strongest sprinters in the world, and with a very heavy leadout formed by riders such as Eislers, Dzamastagic, Blythe and Liepins he could just tare it apart from the front. Eislers can even prove to be a solid pointscorer himself despite not even yet maxed out!

In the cobbles Blythe and Neilands lead the team in an ever present quality setup. The team may not be quite as dominant in the dobbles as they have been, but the setup around cobblers that is also good at hills is as sure as the “Amen!” in church.

The team is nowhere to be seen in the timetrials though – or are they? Indeed so – behind the curtains we spot not only 1 but 2 very handy prologues riders in Chavanne and Stoltz – both of which are also capable of ripping a peloton in half through some heavy flat skills. I don’t think there need to be a lot of beating around the bush here. If we don’t find a podiumcontestant at the bare minimum here we have seen a team flop extraordinarily!


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Festina - OAKA
Last season result: 9th [PT]


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Lead GC rider: Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier (#18 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Clement Koretzky (#42 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: Bryan Coquard (#22 IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Georgios Karatzios (#52 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Francesco Bongiorno (#76 IR [PT])

Together with Vesuvio, Festina is probably the most winning team in the division, holding a 3 season back-to-back title defense while also having a total of 7 top 5 positions. The team emerged from the roots of Discovery Channel in 2009 and have existed in somewhat the same form ever since.

The team, however, isn’t quite what it was in the prime of 2015 through 2018, but nevertheless the team is still somewhat capable in terms of leaders. Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier have taken the final step towards stardom, and the 27 year old Frenchie looks set to target a Grand Tour win sooner rather than later. With him is the Italian climber Francesco Bongiorno who himself is fairly capable of landing results in the region of 10-15th.

The team is not quite as handy when it comes to the hills, but can’t be underestimated either. Clement Koretzky is one of those “often in top 10” kind of riders, and one of those who is likely to benefit from the altered editions of mountain-importance. To a lesser degree of quality we find the more well-rounded Canadian David Boily who is likely to be used as a key to opening those “in-between”-races. And with Aidan van Niekerk and Anatoliy Budyak both strong puncheurs aswell as U25 contestants we could see some aggressive ridings albeit few actual wins.

In the sprinting department one could argue that Bryan Coquard looks faster than everyone else with his sprint and acceleration in mention – but last season he struggled to really push above those sprinters just below him – it will be interesting to see if he works better this time around with Giacomo Nizzolo (fairly handy himself) and Georgios Bouglas to lead him out. Bryan Coquard have a very strong prologue capability too, which have often seen him fare well in shorter and flatter GC races too.

In the cobbles we see slim to nothing. Only Georgios Karatzios stand out, but as he is all alone in the world, and lacking high end quality it is not likely that he will get many good results himself. As a final note we can see a riders such as Panagiotis Vlatos who is usually performing very strong at PT level, and he is paired with a couple of decent GC 3rd tiers in Riccardo Zoidl and Nikolaos Ioannidis. Overall this isn’t a top team, but in the high end of the mediocre ones.


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Gazelle
Last season result: 1st [PT]


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Lead GC rider: Angel Madrazo (#7 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Davide Formolo (#55 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: -None- (# IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Mike Teunissen (#35 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Denis Karnulin (#149 IR [PT])

Last seasons superior winners are back to fight another day. Gazelle came clean through the ranks winning the 2013 CT division, only to finish 7th the next season with a strong combination of puncheurs and attacking riders. In 2015 they promoted through a 2nd place only to survive by 2016. Ever so slowly they have been established themselves before smashing the division by a huge margin last season. But in all honesty I cannot see it happening again!

Angel Madrazo is still present, and may even perform even better this season than the last. He also have his trusted domestiques in Karnulin and Sosnitskiy aswell as added quality from Vysna, Geoghegan Hart, Powless and Vervaeke, yet it still feels somewhat “off” to make them better than their stats suggest!

Mike Teunissen came through as a very solid cobbler last season, but we have to look at the competitive market, and he should not perform equally strong this time around. He does have a decent setup around him with Potts, Kruijswijk and Malecki however, but the depth points should be negligible in the cobbles. Speaking of Kruijswijk he had a stellar 2019 scoring a massive 642 points which I think he should be pleased to half this season.

Another of last seasons heroes, Ian Bibby too is on the downside, despite still being a strong rider indeed. One who isn’t on the downside though is Davide Formolo, who provides the team as their best puncheur – aswell as a very competent climber. We are likely going to see Formolo test the waters for a lot of individual success this season – and as always that is fed through some very handy domestiques like Furdi, Tratnik, Kangert etc.

The team is without a top puncheur, without a top timetriallist and without a sprinter entirely. However the team is stacked with quality and depth which in combination with a very clever manager, saw the team steal the title. Could that happen again? Sure, why not. Is it likely? No. I think this is one of those teams that is likely to fall short – but still perform really well, inside the top 5.


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Generali
Last season result: 8th [PT]


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Lead GC rider: Simon Spilak (#5 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Dylan Teuns (#90 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: Jasper de Buyst (#324 IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Edward Theuns (#30 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Andrew Talansky (#30 IR [PCT])

Generali came through in 2015 having a mediocre CT presence, which however ended in promotion through a 7th place. They then had 3 seasons at PCT level before promoting the year before last season. Many people – including myself – struggled to see Generali performing inside the top 10, so it came as a surprise to see them finish 8th overall. But looking through the names a tendency seem to strike. This team kinda look like Gazelle light with a lot of domestique quality but not so much in terms of leaders.

Former individual ranking and Tour de France winner, Simon Spilak have joined the team, and poses a doubleheaded threat as a stellar GC rider, aswell as a very strong puncheur. Andrew Talansky is likely to lead the team on numerous occasions though as I suspect Spilak will be used on different kind of terrains. Riders like Dyball, Sequera and Ludvigsson all have enough quality to get a decent amount of points themselves too, but is more of domestique riders with freedom. And while we look at those we may have to take a look at Rohan Dennis, Nelson Oliveira, Joey Rosskopf, Jose Fernandes, Nathan Brown and Stefan Kung too… We basically have to look at all riders to get an idea of how and why this works so well. All riders fight to the end and ever so often find themselves in a good position to steal a good amount of points!

Dylan Teuns may lead the team with aid from Gaday and Masnada here and there and snatch up some points too, but in the PT field he will often come short. The same can be said about Theuns and De Buyst in the sprints – but they too are doubleheaders as they are mainly cobblers – Here we have to add Gaday again aswell! And as if it wasn’t enough Oliveira, Kung and De Gendt also form some quality in cobbled races with a TT. Looking through the team I can spot just 2-4 riders that will pose as “simple domestiques” with those being Geoffrey Bouchard, Aime de Gendt, Olivier Lecourt De Billot and Christophe Laporte – but even those are capable of landing points while two of them are even unmaxed still…

When I struggle to believe Gazelle can replicate their win, I also have to struggle to see Generali do so, but I can see them fighting with Gazelle and a couple of other teams to have their say in the top 5. Especially after signing Spilak and Talansky I believe Generali is very likely to finish as a top 5 side!


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Grieg-Maersk
Last season result: 2nd [PT]


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Lead GC rider: Sigurd Nesset (#122 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Jonathan Lastra (#251 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: Mads Pedersen (#93 IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Lukasz Wisniowski (#9 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Mads Würtz (#152 IR [PT])

Last seasons biggest revelation – even beyond Gazelle in my opinion is Grieg-Maersk. But the Scandinavian team could well tip their fortune and go straight back to the PCT after their biggest achievement ever. Grieg comes from the old Risa – Ergon Cycling Team which was founded in 2013. The team had a slow time getting up the rankings on paper, but was kind of gifted back to back promotions through 7th in CT back in 2014 and promotion through 8th in the PCT in 2015. However the PT tendencies were short lived, as the team went straight back to PCT as last team in 2016. At this point it seemed evident that the manager had found the recipe for success however with a dominant PCT win. And then the 2nd place in PT last season. Great job!

But this season it seems priorities and dreams came before the sponsors wishes of a push for glory, which was seen early by the disengagement to Taylor Phinney in order to land a fairly undercooked cobbled future star, Mads Pedersen. Already having a great cobbled setup with Wisniowski, Ringheim and Jansen I think the team effectually put a bullet through the teams right foot. While Pedersen is arguably the biggest cobbled talent since Sam Bewley he will mostly ride as a domestique for a similar albeit better rider hence throwing a good portion of expected points down the bin.

Looking at the teams GC aspirations there is nothing to find. Nesset, Itturia and Laengen will surely have a lot of freedom and from time to time hit glory, but overall neither will find the amount of points needed to succeed at PT level through GC points. The same applies for hills where the team arguably is even worse with Lastra, Grossschartner and Serrano hoping for some spotlight through long efforts.

The team doesn’t have a lead sprinter, although we can expect some results from newly signed Mads Pedersen here and there aswell as perhaps Hofstetter through decimated bunch sprints. The team does however have a decent TTT setup aswell as the upcoming king of timetrials Mads Würtz. I do believe that he will get quite some points aswell as the hidden gem Soren Kragh Andersen. But having neither climber nor puncheur at PT level? That’s just a death sentence. I don’t need any second thoughts – Grieg is going down.
Edited by SotD on 22-10-2020 11:53
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SotD
Indosat Ooredoo
Last season result: 16th [PT]


Jersey not available!


Lead GC rider: Martijn Keizer (#36 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Jan Bakelants (#19 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: Romain Vanderbiest (#90 IR [PCT])
Lead cobbler: -None- (# IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Gregory Brenes (#70 IR [PT])

In 2015 Indosat – ANZ was formed as a new CT team. They immediately promoted to the PCT where they initially struggled, but soon were to find their legs. After promoting they secured their position in the PT becoming 16th.

Former GC captain Leopold König have been replaced by the significantly stronger asset Martijn Keizer, while the team have a good amount of classical breakaway climbers such as elite KOM fighter Gregory Brenes alongside Bartosz Warchol and Kenny Elissonde all of which have good backup stats for the longer races.

In the hills the former legend Jan Bakelants is still going strong, although it will be difficult for him to feature in the individual top 20 like last season. We should still see good performances from him nevertheless and with Le Roux and Kulimbetov as his main helpers he could be one to watch. The team does however lack an “in-between-rider” to take the pressure of the two main riders, and despite having tried to replace Alexander Kristoff I doubt Romain Vanderbiest will replicate his results. Matthew Goss is not where he was once, and the team is without cobblers. One could argue, that if one season had a clear “stay out” path in terms of cobbles, this could be it though.

Pim Lighthart shows a bit of capability in timetrials, but the team is much too weak in the TTT setup to really be able to help Keizer where I matters, and overall I think this will be one of the teams struggling to survive. It is not impossible, but planning is key, and for the leaders to perform the outmost even more so. The team is slim and I must say I struggle to see where their wagecap went as I don’t see huge wages anywhere. Maybe things just went sour towards the end…


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ISA - Hexacta
Last season result: 1st [PCT]


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Lead GC rider: Natnael Berhane (#21 IR [PCT])
Lead puncheur: Petr Vakoc (#58 IR [PCT])
Lead sprinter: John Degenkolb (#8 IR [PCT])
Lead cobbler: Adrien Petit (#129 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Eduardo Sepulveda (#22 IR [PCT])

I would like to bid another warm welcome to another of the promoted teams – and this time it’s none less than the reigning PCT champions of ISA – Hexacta. The team was founded in 2016 as World Cycling Centre, and is thus the youngest present team to be in the Pro Tour – Well done! The team started out slow with a 14th place in the CT back in 2016, but used the time down there well as they jumped up winning the CT in 2017. After that they had a small transitionperiod before also winning the PCT. Now they only lack the PT! Have anyone else ever won all 3 divisions? I don’t know to be honest!

The team doesn’t look quite ready to win the PT, though I must say, but given the history we could see them survive only to steal the title next season – right? With Natnael Berhane as their key GC rider it won’t be now though. Berhane is a decent climber and good enough to lead certain races at PT level, and the depth with Anacona, Ju and Campero will definitely offer something too – Heck maybe even Murilo Affonso can perform well. But overall this is more looking like a team on the offense hoping for the best.

On the hills Petr Vakoc have shown from time to time that he can perform at PT level, but more often than not he have proved that he can’t. Fortunately Zakarin and especially Sepulveda come with something different and may help the overall setup. The argentine looks particularly interesting for the PT division, but will be up against a lot of similar or better riders.

The big star of the team is John Degenkolb who is a favorite wherever he goes, and with a strong leadout from Petit, Santos and Juarez we can be certain to see him do well. Petit and Harrison could be vital in some of the less difficult cobbled stages too, while Sanogo is not really made to get a big mention in the cobbles, albeit not a complete nothing either.

The team heavily lacks firepower in the timetrial setup, but may have enough to fight off big TTT losses. Overall we could see a team like this struggle to survive – and indeed will if not Degenkolb finds his A-Game this time. The team, however, is so distinct from many others that you never know if this could disrupt something. No one game them the benefit of the doubt last season – and see who had the last laugh!


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Isostar - Specialized
Last season result: 5th [PT]


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Lead GC rider: Taylor Phinney (#3 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Matej Mohoric (#40 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: David Per (#101 IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Jan Polanc (#77 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Primoz Roglic (#29 IR [PCT])

Isostar is one of the fastest growing team in the MG universe. Founded in 2016 the team immediately moved from CT to PCT, albeit from a 7th place. The more impressive part is seeing how the team landed 2nd in the PCT in 2017 and thus was ready for the PT, where the team have slowly progressed to what I would consider a top team. Last season the team was one of the major candidates for the title, but didn’t exactly manage to get there. Yet 5th overall is still very competent, and I think the team have only grown since!

The signing and heavy training of Taylor Phinney moves them straight up to the top of the table of favorites for the title – or atleast podium. In terms of GC results they have swapped an aging Simon Spilak and TT climber Martijn Keizer for Taylor Phinney and Primoz Roglic. I find that to be a very strong swap! The team concludes the climbing department with Kozhatayev and two very young GC prospects in Domen Novak and Aleksandar Roman who are both capable of scoring a big chunk of U25 points.

In the hills Matej Mohoric is among those great puncheurs that may benefit from mountains not being as important this season, yet his relatively low flat may hinder him in winning a lot of big races. He is helped by the always aggressive Lilian Calmejane and a couple of decent alrounders. In terms of cobbles David Per is maxed and ready to lead at PT level. Despite lacking a bit in the high end cobblestat, he is very versatile and should be scoring well. With him is Jan Polanc who also climbs and TT’s quite well.

The team have decided against sprinters which in hindsight of last season could be the way to go – atleast Gazelle proved it to be a strategy worthy of consideration. As a team owning Taylor Phinney I must admit that I find the TTT setup a bit weak, but I reckon planning for Phinney goes mainly towards individual TT’s and as such won’t be much of an issue. A very strong team that have a podium aspirant for many races aswell as decent depth. I don’t quite think it is a winning team, but a podium aspirant – that’s for sure.


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King Power
Last season result: 17th [PT]


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Lead GC rider: Rafael Reis (#46 IR [PCT])
Lead puncheur: Alexey Lutsenko (#23 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: Hsuan Ping Hsu (#278 IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Przemyslaw Kasperkiewiecz (#12 IR [CT])
Honorable mention: Yegveniy Gidich (#108 IR [PT])

King Power was originally founded as Siam Cement – Lenovo back in 2014 where the team immediately promoted to the PCT. The team struggled a lot in their first years in the division however, and it wasn’t until the team was rebranded as SPAR – Shimano – SCG that they found the feet. Last season they were “Last man standing” in the relegation battle taking that important 17th spot less than 150 points from relegation and with quite a bit up to the teams above. So it will be interesting to see how they have managed to turn around to move up a bit.

The team is still led by Alexey Lutsenko, but have also improved their climbing department. Rafael Reis, Dion Smith and Daniel Teklehaimanot have come in to lead the team, and while they don’t have a lot of top quality they prove enough to get a decent amount of points combined. Muhamad Azman lead the transformation from climber to puncheur and will be seen as Lutsenkos main helper. Azman is fairly aggressive and I can see him landing some decent results.

Two riders that hides a bit is Matthias Brändle and Yevgeniy Gidich but they are not going to hide once the season starts. Both possess a lot of quality though their combined stats. Brändle as the strong TT rider and Gidich as the puncheur that can climb and TT too! Overall the team have a good TTT setup with riders such as van Winden, Viviani aswell as a couple of those already mentioned and then Chun Wing Leung who also offers a huge prologue quality – among the very best in the world!

Hsu and Jakobsen are a couple of cobbled sprinters but is unlikely to perform at PT level. Kasperkiewiecz with the help from Darbinyan and a couple of lesser cobblers though should provide a decent amount of cobbles points – despite the pole not yet being fully maxed. Overall I see King Power as one of those teams that could end up relegating, but I wouldn’t call anything yet – and if they don’t the team will be very interesting next season with maxed riders such as Gidich, Kasperkiewiecz, Stash aswell as some riders moving up to the 4th level before maxing.


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Moser - Sygic
Last season result: 6th [PT]


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Lead GC rider: Warren Barguil (#75 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Peter Sagan (#20 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: Geoffrey Soupe (#207 IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Sam Bewley (#33 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Jan Hirt (#29 IR [PT])

Year after year have gone by, and Moser being a top 3-5 team have become an everyday thing. The team originates from the Ceramica Panaria – Navigare team which was founded in 2008 at the lowest level, which was overtaken in 2010 by Roman and Shifty. Back then the team was called Kenda Pro Cycling, but immediately after that season Milka was born as a team controlled solely by Roman. From 2013-2018 the team was a top 4 team and one have to see last seasons 6th place as a minor setback. For so many years the team have been one just waiting to win, but is that still realistic?

Warren Barguil and Jan Hirt lead the teams climbing department, and neither are winning material – but often they are a top 5 setup or atleast top 10. Ignacio Jesus Prado was trained and now is a fairly competent low-level GC rider aswell. In the hills Peter Sagan is still among the very best out there and he does have a very strong setup around him including Schlegel, McKenna, Schönberger and Cerny.

As a cobbled setup we know this team very well. Sam Bewley was above all for a number of seasons, and while he is decreasing we still have to accept that he will be one of the biggest favorites for all cobbled races – aswell as a very potent sprinter that is likely to win stages! Polnicky, Hnik and Boros help him in the cobbles, while Soupe, Granjel Cabrera and Baska helps him in the sprints. Neither are very strong riders, but also neither are worthless by any means.

The team also have a decent TTT setup, without any standout riders, Michael Hepburn being the best. Due to the decline of Bewley combined with the fact that no leaders have been trained (very unusual) I can’t really see Moser in top 5, and that is a very difficult thing to say out loud. If all goes well, they could easily end up there, but it isn’t a given like in the past.
Edited by SotD on 28-10-2020 14:28
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SotD
Rakuten Pro Cycling
Last season result: 3rd [PCT]


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Lead GC rider: Chen Shikai (#12 IR [PCT])
Lead puncheur: Tomohiro Kinoshita (#6 IR [PCT])
Lead sprinter: Tomohiro Hayakawa (#254 IR [PCT])
Lead cobbler: Shiki Kuroeda (#237 IR [PCT])
Honorable mention: Nairo Quintana (#118 IR [PT])

Welcome to the PT (again) to our Asian friends of Rakuten Pro Cycling! Meiji – Fuji was founded in 2012 as the first Asian team in the MG universe. The team didn’t do well – by any means – in their first season, but slowly got into a good path first landing some Italians to get a bit of professionalism, but later improving the Asian side to be worthy of further gambling. In 2014 the team landed 10th in the PCT – and this was enough to get into the PT. The visit was shortlived though and the team was back at PCT level again to feature in the upper end of the middle section.

After promoting again, let’s have a look at what the team look like. In GC’s Chen Shikai and Nairo Quintana offer a potent duo – not top level, but easily enough to score points at PT level, especially if planned well. Costagli and Iino both add some decent and needed depth.

Homegrown superstar, Tomohiro Kinoshita is easily the best ever asian rider and it will be very interesting to see if he can actually win the one day races at this level. It can not be ruled out! Pieter Serry and Jakub Kratochvila both offer a decent amount of support aswell as having the qualities to land results themselves.

A handful of sprinters that won’t be good enough at PT level find themselves at the team – basically ready for a top level sprinter to lead out. The cobbled department isn’t much better, but who knows if the combination of brother-duo Kuroeda and Sibilla can get some points here and there. I suppose they can!

In terms of TT the team pose some depth, but no standout riders. Overall the team need to be lifted by two subtop GC riders and Kinoshita – and I struggle to see that as a viable solution at PT level – unfortunately!


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Team Puma - SAP
Last season result: 3rd [PT]


Jersey not available!


Lead GC rider: Silvio Herklotz (#1 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Nikias Arndt (#102 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: Arnaud Demare (#16 IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Tim Declercq (#188 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Remy Cavagna (#210 IR [PT])

The 2018 winners Team Puma – SAP also landed a good 2019 result getting 3rd ahead of Air France and Isostar. In 2012 the team was founded with a decent core – actually still with a couple of present riders. The team immediately promoted with Daniele Bennati being the big star, and with a horde of talents. That was a season or two too early, and the team had to get back for a rebuild before being finally ready for a proper promotion in 2015. In 2016 and 2017 the team consolidated their position as a top half PT team landing 6th and 7th, before Herklotz being ready to tare the rankings apart in 2018.

Silvio Herklotz is still the number one rider in the team and easily one of the 3 best riders in the world, if not the best. With him is the domestique core of decent riders such as Arndt, Vasyliv, Egger and Mager supplemented by Colin Stüssi – whom I believe to be “one to watch”. A very solid setup.

In the hills the team may struggle a bit although both Arndt and Mager provided a decent amount of quality. Arnaud Demare obviously is a top level puncheur and it will be very interesting to see whether or not the changes to the hilly stages will make him a threat in many races again! But also he is a sprinter, and many racedays will have to be used there too. By making that sound like a bad thing, it certainly isn’t – But the gap between puncheurs and sprinters may come to a hault in terms of effective racedays which is a setback. And by concluding that I have to look at Silvio Herklotz and wonder where he will actually go. Because isn’t he the perfect puncheur too? Ofcourse he is.

The team doesn’t have a solid cobbled plan, although it will be interesting to see Declercq and maybe especially Remy Cavagna both being very versatile and interesting riders.
The team have a top timetriallist in Jasha Sütterlin and a good core making them stand out as a regular TTT favorite whenever they want to be. Knowing this team and manager I know that benefit of the doubt is a good idea and despite not actually seeing the team as an obvious top 5 candidate, I will still put them there. The combination of manager-know-how, and Herklotz/Demare aswell as some very potent finishers at “low-level” points I think it will be one of those “almost there-teams”.


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Team Tinkoff – La Datcha
Last season result: 13th [PT]


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Lead GC rider: Timofey Kritskiy (#8 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Sergey Chernitskiy (#88 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: Artem Samolenkov (#84 IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Florian Senechal (#63 IR [PT])
Honorable mention: Arman Kamyshev (#125 IR [PT])

The Russian multimillionaire Roman Tinkoff created the Tinkoff Credit Systems – Rosneft in 2011, and it didn’t take long for the team to become PT regular. In 2014 they saw their debut ending in 7th on two consecutive tries. In the past seasons the team have become way too familiar with the relegation line, and have become a master of surviving it being regularly in the region of 15-17th.

Timofey Kritskiy had a massive season last season, and while decreasing he is still a top level GC rider. The added competition might pose a threat and I doubt we will see him in the individual top 10 or even in a GT podium. So expecting 1700 points from him alone is not realistic. He will however surely be a top 25 rider and have some decent backup in Novikov and Mamykin. In the next line there is a bunch of strong climbers without a high enough mountainstat to be anything but aggressive riders.

Mario Vogt and Sergey Chernetskiy lead the team in the hills, and that surely isn’t PT worthy. The latter proved to be a decent rider last season, but I can’t see the two combined landing above 5-600 points, which is not good looking at the amount of hilly pointpotentials.

But where the team is lacking puncheurs it’s stacked with cobblers. Senechal, Kamyshev, Sulimov and Zubov should provide a fair amount of points, however both Senechal and Kamyshev need to step up in comparison to last season in order to help the team move away from the relegation line. The team is very potent in team timetrials, also have a line of riders that can get decent points themselves, such as Yatsevich, Dal Col, Malori and Vorobev.

In the sprints the combination of Samolenkov and Moser isn’t too shabby either, although neither will win many stages. Overall the team is much too comfortable to being in the lower half that I will tamper with that. I see the team as one that should survive, but not with ease. And much is down to the cobbled setup and whether or not Kritskiy will perform as he should.


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Team UBS
Last season result: 4th [PCT]


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Lead GC rider: Andrey Amador (#16 IR [PCT])
Lead puncheur: Simone Ponzi (#11 IR [PT])
Lead sprinter: -None- (# IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Lukas Spengler (#71 IR [PCT])
Honorable mention: Patrick Schelling (27 IR [PCT])

Welcome back to our elevator-team, Team UBS. Let’s hope we can enjoy your stay on a more permanent basis this time! UBS as we know it was founded in 2011 on the ashes of the Wii Racing setup. In 2011 we saw UBS at PT level for the first time, when they was 12th. The next season saw them in 5th, which is the highest ever position. In 2015 the teams status as an up’n’down team started with the relegation from the PT. In 2017 they promoted back up, only to relegate again in 2018. In 2019 they promoted once more, and here we are!

The former top GC rider Andrey Amador lead the team in the GC battle, and while he is a strong rider, he is a shadow of his former self. Rather than fighting for podiums he will probably set his eyes on a good amount of top 10s with a few top 5s in reach. Patrick Schelling is another decent GC rider on the level just below Amador, and with Thery Schir the team seems pretty well rounded in the GC setup.
Multimilionaire and Playboy Simone Ponzi will try a new outfit – again – and while he too is on the old end, he is a top level rider that can still win big big races – and he probably will too… He have Sebastian Reichenbach at his side to form a very solid hilly setup with also a good core of decent domestiques.

In the sprints we are very unlikely to see UBS feature, which may instead see them being very active in the breakaways. This however require a lot of effort from the manager to read the profiles right and add those riders that can get away with it. Some cunning planning could be a good way about it.

In the cobbled department however we might need to learn a new name. Who the F… is Lukas Spengler at this level? Definitely not a nobody that’s for sure! Whether or not his backup stats is enough to make him an elite cobbler is yet to be seen, but the talent is there. With Bohli and Grand there as his main guys we might see something interesting here.

The timetrials are led by Silvan Dillier and Jose Goncalves, the latter being rather interesting in terms of GC’s too. The TTT potential is also fairly competitive, and I think this is the best version of the UBS setup we have seen in many years. They should be able to fight off relegation and start to become a PT regular. Atleast I hope so.


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Volvo acc. by Spotify
Last season result: 2th [PCT]


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Lead GC rider: Jose Alarcon (#85 IR [PT])
Lead puncheur: Kristian Haugaard Jensen (#49 IR [PCT])
Lead sprinter: Jonas Ahlstrand (#3 IR [PT])
Lead cobbler: Joeri Stallaert (#20 IR [PCT])
Honorable mention: Richard Antonio Carapaz (89 IR [PCT])

The final piece in the puzzle is the Swedish setup Volvo, who should also receive a warm welcome back. The team originally came through as Team Falcon-Husqvarna, but have always been Swedish, which is a nice and very rare consistency – especially for a very small cycling-nation. The team have a long history as a PCT side, but in 2017 we saw them enter the PT for the first time. While they survived the first try, their 2nd season saw them relegate, but here they are. Back in the PT!

The team is slimmed to the bone which leaves very little room for underqualified riders. Luckily Volvo doesn’t have too many of those either. Jose Alarcon and Richard Antonio Carapaz lead the way, and the south americans have enough quality to get decent results although we have to accept the fact that Alarcon isn’t at the level he was at one point. Marcus Faglum Karlsson add a very nice 3rd tier option aswell. Neither of the 3 are very strong on hills though, so I see a big overlap in similar racedays, which makes for a bit of inefficiency, which I don’t like.

Kristian Haugaard Jensen lead the team in the hills, and while he is a decent rider it is not likely that he can lift the level for a PT team. As he is also more or less on his own we see a team that could struggle in those areas.

The team however have a lot of cobbled and sprinter quality. Joeri Stallaert is one of the strongest cobbler and with help from Tiller, Sweeck and Kosic I suspect we will see him very active. Jonas Ahlstrand is similarly a very strong sprinter and with riders like Stallaert and Halvorssen as leadouts and Appollonio as a combined leadout and lead sprinter a lot of room is covered on the flatter grounds…

The team have a decent TT setup, but I expect only Haugard as a rider that can get points for himself. But in TTT’s I see them pretty capable – but which of the leaders can keep up with the TTT setup? I don’t think it’s much of an issue overall as the GC leaders won’t win races anyway – but I still think the team is capable of surviving – although maybe only just.
Edited by SotD on 29-10-2020 13:42
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SotD
First 6 teams (deducting one pending raceplanner) added to the preview. You can read the previews here:
https://pcmdaily....st_1373548
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tastasol
Nice format! Some good thoughts as well, so looking forward to your final prediction, as you surely have good insight when it comes to what it takes to excel in PT.
 
baseballlover312
While I don't have a stake in these as a CT team, I'm really looking forward to reading through these. I love the more qualitative previews, and we don't get enough of them these days. Smile
RIP Exxon Duke, David Veilleux, Double Feature, and Monster Energy
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knockout
Love a good ol' qualitative preview and this looks like a great one. Good format - id love if you could highlight in last seasons scoring # when a rider did that with stats that are different to the current one (maxing, decline, massive training...)

Content wise there is not much to disagree with since you have a great eye for riders that can score points. I think cycleyorkshires time trialling core can help them more than you give them credit for but theyd probably be better if theyd have two or three strong TTers more to also have a worldclass TTT.

Cant wait for the rest of the teams
A Big Thank You To All MG Reporters!
And To All Who Organize Something On Daily As Well!


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DubbelDekker
Always fun to read previews like this. Keep them coming Grin
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SportingNonsense
I wouldn't really call 2019 a poor show for Vesuvio. A drop down the table sure, but an anticipated one with sticking to aging leaders. The Schleck decline hit, and others rescued the team. Relegation was an outcome I'd have embraced, as 2020 editions of Schleck and Gastauer could have been fun in PCT.

My pursuit of more young riders does make staying up this year a more important target, for ease of future development, plus 2021 Schleck is also not so likely for wins regardless of division, hence the search for a new signing such as Van Garderen. You mentioned U25 for Aker - I think Godoy and Wirtgen should do well for me in that regard this year too.

Certainly feels like more races of interest to this season in planning, which hopefully bodes well to be comfortable enough, as you predict.
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valverde321
Definitely one of the managers I value insight from the most. I cant wait (but also dreading) what you will say about my team Pfft

As a new promotee like cycleYorkshire, its easiest to compare myself with them. I hadn't even realized the TT aspect you had, and they may well score quite a large number of points from that.
 
roturn
Kind of spot on on my team.

Question is IF De Bie finally rides according his great hill stat plus actually good backups. Last year he didn`t.

AND IF Groenewegen can repeat his performance from last year as he surely overperformed a lot in especially in classics. Both are needed at least in parts to have a calm season.

Olivier despite his training likely remains on the usual level scoring wise with other stage racers being heavily trained as well.

The points lost by the riders out are immense and only replaced by training. So we will see if you are right about my team.
 
ryant
Do love a preview that includes my team Pfft

Obviously my introduction to PT will be a baptism of fire, I do feel that I'm a little more prepared for this challenge than I was say, for my first PCT season in 15! Pfft

I do agree that relegation is the most likely result this season but I'd like to prove the doubters wrong!!! Will look forward to the preview of the rest of the teams as I do like this style of preview the best/most informative!!!
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Banana John St Ledger in Team Bunzl-Centrica and Team U25Banana

Red Bull Driver in RFactor
 
ember
Very nice to have your opinions on the different teams, SotD. Definitely appreciate you taking the time to write about all PT teams! I also like the format, it's simple and clear, not aiming to mention "everything", but making it personal and focus on the things you find the most interesting.

For my team, I think your conclusion is very much on point. At least I'm also thinking that we'll be just above the big, big relegation fight if our leaders perform according to last season's experiences and their stats when the game is PCM 18. Admittedly it's another season where we cling our hopes on old leaders to survive, to build a proper base and team behind. We did well there last season, but we'll need to make it work both this season and also in 2021 to see fruits from the long-term rebuild we started for real last season.

Having said all that, we could obviously find ourselves right down in the fight to avoid relegation, as it won't take much one way or the other to see us perform above or below my expectations. Especially Kwiatek is interesting this season. I think his stats are brilliant for both hilly days and the more difficult hilly days.
 
SotD
Thank you to all of those taking time to comment. That is appreciated, and everyone knows I like a good statbased discussion so it's really nice to see your suggestions and perspectives.

@SN - Yeah it wasn't meant as a harsh comment, but more of a "wow" effect to highlight your other results Smile - In terms of U25 I definately agree. You have a lot of potential there, and I actually did write that down at one point. Not sure how I forgot to include it in the final descriptions.

@ember - True, Kwiatkowski might be a gem for you - I really find it difficult to rate puncheurs this season, as looking historically and with some PCM 2015 AI in mind he will be decent, but not great, while with PCM 2018 AI as we know it he will be great indeed. But the tampering with stages makes things very difficult. I don't think you'll be deep into the relegation battle though, and I will look forward to seeing your teams progress in the rebuild!

I have included the next layer of teams in post 2, which you will find here:
https://pcmdaily....st_1373549
i.imgur.com/lVIiCkA.png

pcmdaily.com/files/Awards2016/manager.png
pcmdaily.com/images/awards/2015/Manmanager.png
pcmdaily.com/files/Awards2016/teamhq.png
 
knockout
Pretty much spot on for Evonik. I barely would count Van Stayen as a puncheur this year though - at least looking at his schedule Pfft

Quite surprising to me how you dont rate the chances of a repeat for Gazelle highly. I think they kept most of their strength and while some stage racers have been trained, others have declined (Taaramae) or have less interesting wildcards this year (Pluchkin). And their depth will continue to score everywhere. You mentioned that Kruijswijk and Bibby will probably score less but are there any other differences to last season?

Grieg is a very interesting case. I dont think i have seen a team being called a relegation favourite despite having so many, so strong riders but its understandable considering that the top duo are both cobblers and that is the terrain where splitting up the leaders to different races simply doesnt work. i still hope that it works out nicely with Wisniowski being the #1 cobbler now and Pedersen finishing high behind him too. If that works (and i could see it working in pcm18) they have a chance to survive. If not, game over...
A Big Thank You To All MG Reporters!
And To All Who Organize Something On Daily As Well!


pcmdaily.com/images/awards/2015/Manteam.pngpcmdaily.com/images/mg/Awards2020/mgmanager.png
 
tastasol
Expected, but harsh words. Given that we would be close to surviving without Phinney last year, I think we have a chance with a team that's otherwise clearly better imo. But need big seasons from the cobbles squad, Wurtz and the climbers. Stake Laengen had a huge year last season, so could be hard for him to recreate that, but hoping for the best.
 
DubbelDekker
I agree that last season's success was based on many riders overperforming. Getting riders to do so is a major focus of mine, but of course a significant part of it is based on chance as well. And that makes it impossible to just assume it will happen again.

We've lost some power with Kruijswijk, Kangert and Bibby declining and should have gained an equal amount back in the training of Formolo, development of Powless and Geoghegan Hart and the acquisition of Vysna. So the biggest question is: will all pieces of the puzzle fall into place again like they did last year?

This is the jersey we're still using:

i.imgur.com/qw7BzHT.png

i.imgur.com/5iNQj.png
 
quadsas
Generali, also known as most overrated team in history. Even SotD fell for Matt's trap.
Manager of the greatest team in the world
DK Žalgiris
 
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