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2021 team preview: Trek-Segafredo

Vincenzo Nibali leads Trek-Segafredo
Trek-Segafredo (Image credit: Getty Images)

Bike brand Trek and Italian coffee maker Segafredo joined forces in 2016, with Trek deciding to directly own and control the team after long spells backing other teams, including Lance Armstrong’s various squads.

Under the guidance of Italian manager Luca Guercilena the team has grown to include the hugely successful women’s Trek-Segafredo team that shares staff and resources, creating one of the most equal, integrated and forward-looking teams in professional cycling.

Vincenzo Nibali came onboard in 2019, joining Richie Porte and Bauke Mollema as Grand Tour leaders, while Mads Pedersen, Jasper Stuyven and Edward Theuns created the backbone of the Classics squad. 

Quinn Simmons and Giulio Ciccone represent the future but the team is in need of some high-profile signings if it is to stay competitive at WorldTour level in the years ahead.

Manager: Luca Guercilena

Squad size: 28

Average age: 27.3

How did they fare in 2020?

Wins: 9

WorldTour ranking: eighth

Trek-Segafredo had another solid but not spectacular season in 2020, winning nine races and finishing third at the Tour de France with Richie Porte. Styven won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad before the lockdown and Pedersen won Gent-Wevelgem in October but they were not one of the stand-out teams in the men’s WorldTour and failed to win a stage in a Grand Tour.

Porte has endured a roller coaster career and was deposed as the main Grand Tour leader when Nibali arrived in 2019, but he left Trek-Segafredo on a high with his third place at the Tour de France and second overall victory at the Tour Down Under. He was perhaps never a threat to Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic in France but he was far better than the rest and deserved his podium glory in Paris.

Trek-Segafredo were on a roll in the early spring after defeating Mitchelton-Scott in Australia but then struggled immediately after the lockdown, only winning a stage at the Tour de Pologne and the BinckBank Tour. Simmons went close at the Tour de Hongrie but his inappropriate comments on social media lead to a suspension from racing and he missed his debut in the Classics.

Fortunately, Pedersen stepped up to win Gent-Wevelgem as Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert raced against each other. Pedersen was tactically perfect and produced a sumptuous ride, combining brains with brawn before dispatching his final rivals in the sprint finish.      

Nibali led Trek-Segafredo in the Giro d’Italia but was unable to compete with Tao Geoghean Hart, Jai Hindley and Wilco Kelderman in the final week and slipped to seventh overall. He insisted his numbers were as good as ever but as a generational changed occurred in the peloton, the 36-year-old Italian was left behind.     

LAGHI DI CANCANO ITALY OCTOBER 22 Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and Team Trek Segafredo Passo dello Stelvio Stilfserjoch 2758m Snow during the 103rd Giro dItalia 2020 Stage 18 a 207km stage from Pinzolo to Laghi di Cancano Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio 1945m girodiitalia Giro on October 22 2020 in Laghi di Cancano Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Team leader Vincenzo Nibali (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Key riders

Vincenzo Nibali: Lo Squalo di Messina may have lost some of his bite and is in his last year of his contract, but nobody else at Trek-Segafredo has his pedigree and few riders have a similar Grand Tour pedigree, with overall victories in all three races.  

Nibali and his coach Paolo Slongo are convinced the intensity of the rescheduled 2020 season and the decision to race a series of one-day races in Italy in August undermined his performance in the Giro d’Italia. Nibali does not appear to have lost his hunger and is reportedly planning to ride the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in 2021 as he takes aim at the Tokyo Olympics. He will likely share leadership and expectation with Ciccone at the corsa rosa and then target stages in France. 

The results of 2021 will influence Nibali’s plans for a final swansong 2022 season that could be at Trek-Segafredo or elsewhere, perhaps even Ineos Grenadiers.   

Giulio Ciccone: Italy expects Ciccone to fill the gap left by Nibali and the friendly rider from Abruzzo seems to have the ability and character to be Italy’s next Grand Tour contender.

He came down with COVID-19 in the weeks before the Giro d’Italia and so was unable to show his true ability, but he has been promised a leadership role in 2021 which could even be at the Giro d’Italia. Time trialling remains a weakness but Ciccone’s aggression and love for racing means he is also already one of the tifosi’s favourites and Nibali’s heir apparent.

Mads Pedersen: The 2019 world champion’s credentials were questioned when he first raced in the rainbow jersey but Pedersen proved his class by winning Gent-Wevelgem with a show of tactical nous and a fast finish. He is still only 25 and so will surely continue to improve and win on the cobbles.      

Quinn Simmons: The former junior world champion is one of the biggest talents in the peloton and logically turned professional at 18 to fast track his career. 

He looked on track for a excellent debut Classics campaign after training hard at home in Colorado during the summer lockdown and then going close to overall victory in Hungary. However his social media posts led to Trek-Segafredo suspending him for the rest of the season and describing his online statements as “divisive, incendiary, and detrimental to the team, professional cycling, its fans, and the positive future we hope to help create for the sport”.

The use of a black emoji by a white person online has been highlighted as racist, but Simmons insisted he did not mean it to be.

"I would like to apologize to everyone who found this offensive as I strongly stand against racism in any form," the 19-year-old said in a team statement. "To anyone who disagrees with me politically, that is fine. I won’t hate you for it. I only ask the same."

WEVELGEM BELGIUM OCTOBER 11 Mads Pedersen of Denmark and Team Trek Segafredo Toms Skujins of Latvia and Team Trek Segafredo during the 82nd GentWevelgem In Flanders Fields 2020 Men Elite a 2325km race from Ypres to Wevelgem GentWevelgem FlandersClassic on October 11 2020 in Wevelgem Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Former world champion Mads Pedersen (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Strengths

Trek-Segafredo are one of the best organised teams in the WorldTour and a role model for how the leading teams should run equal men’s and women’s programmes. 

The team is well-run, well supported by experienced staff and professional cycling would be a far better sport if every other team was at Trek-Segafredo’s level.

The men’s roster includes some of best riders in the peloton, with a solid core of other rider of different qualities and abilities. Bauke Mollema is a quality altenrative leader that can perform in Grand Tourts and win Il Lombardia. Toms Skujiņš is an eclectic winner, while Koen de Kort, Kiel Reijnen and Kenny Elissonde are the engine room riders every team would love to have in their roster. 

The team also has a good track record of developing young talent. Matteo Moschetti looks set to be Italy’s next great sprinter, while Nicola Conci, Niklas Eg, Juan Pedro López and neo-pro Antonio Tiberi are all names to remember. 

Weaknesses

With Nibali now 36, Mollema 34 and Porte opting to step down to a domestique role with Ineos Grenadiers, Trek-Segafredo only has Ciccone as a future team leader for the Grand Tours and will surely be forced to pursue a major signing for 2022, leading to a major change in their roster rather than gradual development. That means 2021 will mark the end of a cycle, which could end on a Grand Tour high but will more likely end on a low.   

Verdict

Several rival team managers are openly envious of Trek-Segafredo’s budget and maliciously suggest they sometimes fail to live up to expectations. 

In theory, major results should be the logical consequence of the solid team structure. Often they are, but occassionally Trek-Segafredo fall into a lean spell and struggle against their own aspirations and are unable to compete against major rivals Deceuninck-QuickStep, Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo-Visma.

In truth, no team appears to have the budget, organisation and roster to dominate in both the Classics and Grand Tours. Perhaps Trek-Segafredo should choose a single goal, focus more resources on recruiting a big-name team leader and forget about trying to cover all the bases.