Analysing the 2019 Tour de France teams – Part 2

The highs and lows from July

The Tour de France has reached Paris and the final report cards are in. For some teams, July was a month of accomplishment. For others, success was rather thinner on the ground. Every prize counts at the Tour, but with 22 teams vying for 21 stages, there is never quite enough to go around. In this two-part feature, Cyclingnews runs the rule over the competing teams. 

You can read Analysing the 2019 Tour de France teams – Part 1 here.

Jumbo-Visma

Jerseys: 0
GC:Steven Kruijswijk - 3rd
Stage wins: 4 (TTT, Teunissen, Groenewegen, Van Aert)

Highlights
The Dutch team continue to go from strength to strength and hit all the right notes at this Tour. The number one objective – to put Steven Kruijswijk on the podium in Paris – was fulfilled, with the Dutchman placing third behind Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas. It was his first Grand Tour podium and the team's first in 10 years. What's more, George Bennett and Laurens De Plus shone in support roles and, with Team Ineos well below their usual level of dominance, Jumbo were arguably the strongest team in the race.

As if that wasn't enough, Jumbo showed you can balance a GC bid with sprint ambitions. Mike Teunissen surprised everyone to beat Peter Sagan and win the opening stage, while Dylan Groenewegen won on stage 7 and the Wout Van Aert fairytale continued when he dispatched Elia Viviani and Caleb Ewan on stage 10.

Oh, and they won the team time trial. Extraordinary.

Lowlights
Tony Martin was booted off the race in a cloud of controversy after an altercation with Luke Rowe. The four-time world time trial champion would have been of little use in the remaining mountain stages, but it still made for an unsavoury side-story – made worse by the team's bizarre claims they were appealing the decision. Martin turned up the next morning with his kit in his bag, ready to race, as lawyers apparently put in calls to CAS. It was farcical. Elsewhere, Wout Van Aert's brilliant debut didn't deserve to end the way it did – with a crash in the stage 13 time trial and a very nasty injury. (PF)

Lotto Soudal

Jerseys: 0
GC: Tiesj Benoot - 59th
Stage wins: 4

Highlights
The debate as to whether Caleb Ewan is among the best sprinters in the world can finally be put to bed after his sensational Tour de France debut. What stood out wasn't just his speed or agility in the finales but his fortitude and mentality that has brought him to this point. Some sprinters would have taken the comfortable option and stayed at Mitchelton-Scott, picked up a handsome paycheck and taken what chances came their way, but Ewan was nothing but resolute in his ability. He pushed for the move to Lotto knowing full well that an immense amount of pressure came with it. He was replacing a legend in Andre Greipel and knew that if he didn't hit the ground running the wolves would be circling. Two stage wins in the Giro d'Italia reduced some of the pressure but the way he then handled the near misses in the first week of the Tour deserves plenty of credit. Toulouse was the breakthrough, Nimes the confirmation and Paris the coronation.

It wasn't just the Caleb Ewan show, either. His lead-out riders were excellent, Maxime Monfort was a reliable motor when it came to chasing breaks, Tim Wellens was competitive, while Thomas De Gendt added another breakaway win to his scrapbook collection.

Lowlights
It's hard to pick fault with this team. They came to win stages and claimed four en route to Paris. (DB)

Mitchelton-Scott

Jerseys: 0
GC: Adam Yates - 29th
Stage wins: 4 (S.Yates x2, Impey, Trentin)

Highlights
The Australian team enjoyed a sparkling run at the Tour, winning a shade under a fifth of the stages on offer. Simon Yates, who fell short at the Giro, went for breaks in the mountains after it emerged his brother Adam wouldn't contend for the overall, and struck gold. Some have to toil time and again before they hit the jackpot, but Yates struck from his first two breaks in the Pyrenees, winning solo at Bagneres-de-Bigorre and Prat d'Albis. It was utterly clinical. He might even have had a third had the stage to Tignes not been neutralised while he was away with Bernal. Elsewhere, Matteo Trentin issued a reminder of his class with a solo victory in Gap, and Daryl Impey played it perfectly on the road to Brioude, negotiating an unruly break before picking off Tiesj Benoot in the sprint.

Lowlights
Of course, Mitchelton-Scott didn't come here for stage wins, and therein lies the paradox of their Tour. In their principal mission – winning the overall with Adam Yates – they fell spectacularly short. Yates seemed to be going well after two weeks, riding a quiet race and staying out of trouble. However, on the first big high-mountain outing, his GC bed went down the drain. Dropped even before the final climb up the Col du Tourmalet, he lost six minutes, and shipped 24 more at Prat d'Albis the following day. While Simon won the Vuelta and came close at the Giro last year, Adam has had two disappointing cracks at the Tour in a row now, and 2016 – when he was fourth overall in the white jersey - seems a distant memory. (PF)

Katusha-Alpecin

Jerseys: 0
GC: Ilnur Zakarin - 51st
Stage wins: 0

Highlights
Fifth in the team time trial on stage 2 showed that the team has several dependable engines within their ranks and that when they pull together they can achieve more than respectable results. There were riders in breaks at several points in the race but for a WorldTour team of this stature that should be the most basic of requirements.

Lowlight
Katusha's problems started long before this year's Tour de France and well before Marcel Kittel decided he'd had enough in May. This is, sadly, a dysfunctional squad that has decayed to the point of anonymity in the last few years. Without a sprinter, they have a decent set of lead-out men lacking a focal point, and without climbers around Zakarin they're always swimming against the tide. Rider recruitment has been poor but so has development. Since 2017 who has joined the team and gone on to improve as a rider? The fact that the team's future remains uncertain only compounds matters but back in 2015 this squad won 40 races including stages in all three Grand Tours. This year they have five wins in total. (DB)

Movistar Team

Jerseys: It's not a jersey but they won the teams classification
GC: Mikel Landa – 6th
Stage wins: 1 (Nairo Quintana)

Highlights
The Spanish squad entertained, constantly trying to split the race in the mountains, and never settling for a quiet ride to Paris. Their lack of cohesion was part of the show.

Lowlights
Three riders inside the top ten creates an air of success but underlying issues over leadership, communication, and teamwork undermined the team's qualities. At times they looked like eight individuals riding for themselves and at worst a split fleet trying to sink each other's ships. Chasing down Quintana before he won a stage, dropping Quintana when they were supposedly working for him, and then reaching peak Movistar on stage 20 when they sent several riders up the road instead of chipping away at Nibali's lead was peak Movistar. That they finished second and third on that stage only highlighted the issues within the squad. The management should shoulder most of the blame. They saw last year that three leaders were a mistake yet they replicated the plan and came away with virtually the same result. Quintana and Landa are now set to leave - along with Carapaz – leaving the squad with several questions for 2020. If Mas arrives from QuickStep the team needs to take a serious look at how they line up at Grand Tours. (DB)

Team Ineos

Jerseys: Yellow jersey, white jersey
GC: Egan Bernal - 1st
Stage wins: 0

Highlights
Winning the race with a 22-year-old and placing the defending champion in second overall on the penultimate stage. The team has now won seven of the eight last Tours and with Bernal in their ranks, they show no signs of letting up. The fact that they won the race with their weakest line up yet – Kwiatkowski, Poels, Castrojevo, Moscon were all average by their previous standards – should be seen as a missed opportunity for their rivals. That said, when it came down to it the British team still had the strongest two riders in the race by the time Paris was reached.

Lowlights
Having a rider chucked out for unsportsmanlike behavior for the second year in a row doesn't qualify as a discipline issue in the eyes of strategist Dave Brailsford. According to the boss 'strategy prevailed over chaos' and 'teamwork paid off over individuals'. We won't mention that the race was in part decided by an act of nature, the team looked average at best at times and we saw Thomas chase down Bernal at one point. The team won because over three weeks they had the strongest rider in the race. It's that simple. (DB).

Team Sunweb

Jerseys: 0
GC: Lennard Kamna – 40th
Stage wins: 0

Highlights
We're clutching at straws but Michael Matthews made the top five a few times, they rode well in the TTT and Chad Haga penned some excellent blogs.

Lowlights
The Dumoulin distraction hit them hard but the writing was on the wall when Matthews publicly questioned his and the team's strategy when it came to his preparation. Morale seemed low and the mid-race decision for Matthews to become a lead-out man for Cees Bol looked desperate. The team still competed, and posted men in breaks and rallied around Matthews when the profiles suited him, but this was a Tour to forget for the squad. Without Dumoulin, and when Matthews is just below his best this squad lacked depth. (DB)

Total Direct Energie

Jerseys: 0
GC:
Stage wins: 0

Highlights
Niccolo Bonifazio was third in Paris.

Lowlights
Losing Niki Terpstra in a crash was a huge blow for the team but they lacked a cutting edge, never excelling in the mountains or the sprints. It meant they had to aim for breaks but they never looked close to winning a stage. Lilian Calmejane had a torrid Tour, finishing 106th in Paris. (DB)

Trek-Segafredo

Jerseys: 0
GC: Richie Porte 11th
Stage wins: 0

Highlights
Giulio Ciccone may have been outfoxed by Dylan Teuns on stage 6 to La Planche des Belles Filles but he still took yellow and wore it admirably for two days. For a Tour debutant it could hardly get better and it demonstrated that the team has more in their locker than just a penchant for signing thirty-somethings. If there was a break or a bunch sprint then Jasper Stuyven was in the mix – he had eight top-tens in total – while the team also led the teams' classification before eventually dropping to second. Overall it was a strong collective effort, even if the second half of the race seemed to bypass them. Bauke Mollema deserves praise. After finishing fifth in the Giro he turned in several super domestique rides and grabbed fourth in the stage to Gap.

Lowlights
A poor team time trial and then missing the split on the road to Albi severely dented Richie Porte's chances of a top-five place. When he was then dropped on the Tourmalet it looked like being a long three weeks for the Australian but there were some encouraging signs too with 5th in the Pau time trial – his best effort against the clock all season – and a strong ride to Foix on stage 15. However, a stop-start year perpetuated with illness eventually caught up with the Australian in the Alps and he slipped outside the top ten on the final mountain stage. 11th is hardly an embarrassment but it wasn't the reason Trek signed him and it wasn't the result Porte expected either. Could they have done with a Ryan Mullen or Will Clarke for the TTT rather than one or two climbers that were never going to be able to support Porte on the final climb? It's easy to say with hindsight now but the squad needs strengthening, especially if they're going to split Grand Tour duties between Porte and Vincenzo Nibali in 2020. (DB).

UAE Team Emirates

Jerseys: 0
GC: Fabio Aru
Stage wins: 0

Highlights
Alexander Kristoff took second on a stage, Jasper Philipsen notched up few top-tens on his Grand Tour debut and Fabio Aru climbed his way to a credible 14th despite only recently coming back from injury.

Lowlights
Drink-gate, as we're now calling it, only emerged after the Tour but it went some way to explain why the team was so off the pace through the entire Tour. Dan Martin was a shadow of himself, Kristoff lacked consistency, while the stage to Gap, when the team put four riders in the break and their best finish was 14th illustrated what a poor showing the team had. Only Aru came out with credit, given his mid-season surgery, while the talk of switching energy products on the eve of the Tour smacks of mismanagement. Stories of riders forced to eat sandwiches from petrol stations during long transfers because the staff forgot to prepare proper meals is not the behaviour a WorldTour team should be displaying. Even us journalists wouldn't stand for that. (DB).

Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team

Jerseys: 0
GC: Guillaume Martin - 12th
Stage wins: 0

Highlights
If you didn't notice Wanty in the race you weren't paying proper attention. They may not have stolen the show with a stage win but they were arguably the best Pro Conti collective in the race. Guillaume Martin was 12th despite a poor first week, and warrants a move to a WorldTour team, while Xandro Meurisse was third on a stage and took 21st overall in his Grand Tour debut. Other than that the team rode well together, posting riders in breaks and working together when they had several riders up the road. Best Pro Conti squad in the Teams' rankings, too.

Lowlights
The squad have only won four times this year so banking on a stage win at the Tour was always going to be a longshot. (DB)

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