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Analysing the 2019 Tour de France teams – Part 1

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Thibaut Pinot and Julian Alaphilippe battle for seconds on the line of stage 6 at the Tour de France

Thibaut Pinot and Julian Alaphilippe battle for seconds on the line of stage 6 at the Tour de France (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) celebrates winning the polka-dot jersey at the Tour de France

Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) celebrates winning the polka-dot jersey at the Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Peter Sagan in the green jersey

Peter Sagan in the green jersey (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) ahead of stage 18 at the Tour de France

Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) ahead of stage 18 at the Tour de France (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

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.

AG2R La Mondiale

Jerseys: Polka-dot – Romain Bardet
GC: Romain Bardet - 15th
Stage wins: 0

Highlights
Romain Bardet's victory in the mountains classification has to be the sole highlight for the French team, who endured a rough Tour de France. The very fact that Bardet's polka-dots are a highlight showcases how badly it went wrong for Vincent Lavenu's men. Bardet took the jersey from a breakaway in the Alps, having seen his GC bid go up in flames, and was a touch fortuitous that two major climbs were removed from the final two stages due to weather conditions. Nevertheless, it pretty much saved his Tour from total disaster, and there was also the fact that getting into breaks plugged him back into an offensive, uncalculating style of racing. As he said, by the end of the Tour, the smile was back on his face.

Lowlights
Having finished on the podium in 2016 and 2017, this was to be a key indicator of Bardet's prospects of winning the Tour, after a subdued display 12 months ago. The writing was on the wall on La Planche des Belles Filles on stage 6, but he fell apart completely on the Col du Tourmalet on stage 14, which he described as "an affliction". Bardet's polka-dots saved his Tour but won't cover up the cracks in the long-term, and the chastening experience will signal a crossroads in the Frenchman's career. A Giro d'Italia debut, an idea with which he's toyed in the past, is now surely on the agenda. (PF)

Astana

Jerseys: 0
GC: Alexey Lutsenko -19th
Stage wins: 0

Highlights
Pello Bilbao's second place on the road to Bagnères-de-Bigorre was probably the team's best single result, while several members of Alexandre Vinokourov's rank and file chipped in with breakaway rides once Jakob Fuglsang left the race in bandages. Alexey Lutsenko became stronger as the race went on and came close to a stage win in Valloire before finishing inside the top 20 in Paris.

Lowlights
For a squad that arrived in Brussels on the back of 30 wins this season and with a potential top-five contender in Fuglsang, this was a Tour de France to forget for Vinokourov's men. The GC hopes were dented by Fuglsang's falls, while they also failed to protect him on the crosswinds stage to Albi. The Danish rider came back in the Pyrenees with two consistent performances that reignited his top-ten hopes but a fall in Nîmes ended his race. The squad assembled were focused on Fuglsang, and despite having powerful riders for the breaks and proven stage winners in their ranks it never really clicked. (DB)

Arkea-Samsic

Jerseys: 0
GC: Warren Barguil - 10th
Stage wins: 0

Highlights
Warren Barguil finally showed signs of his old self. Life has been tough for the Frenchman since he joined his local team in the wake of two stage wins and the mountains classification at the 2017 Tour. He didn't hit those heights but he was back to something like his old level as he rode to 10th overall. He didn't have the same breakaway spark as two years ago but hung in with the group of general classification contenders better than many pre-race favourites. Elsewhere, 24-year-old Elie Gesbert showed a couple of glimpses of his talent, notably on the Tourmalet.

Lowlights
Andre Greipel was utterly anonymous, his highest stage finish being 12th until he placed 6th on the Champs Elysees. The French Pro Continental team partly signed the German, who has won 11 Tour stages, to boost their case for a wildcard, but they surely also felt he could do something more. Greipel said he had been ill before the race, but there was more to it, and he cut an exasperated figure, simply saying he was ‘doing his best'. Signing a rider of Greipel's calibre was meant to signal Arkea's future intent, but it's a signing that simply hasn't worked out. (PF)

Bahrain-Merida

Jerseys: 0
GC: Vincenzo Nibali – 39th
Stage wins: 2

Highlights
The two stage wins, firstly with Dylan Teuns at La Planche des Belles Filles, and then with Vincenzo Nibali at Val Thorens, represented the team's first victories in the Tour since the squad's inception in 2017. There may not have been a GC challenge, but the squad was competitive on several terrains. Damiano Caruso was close in Valloire and could have made a great impression on the KOM jersey had he gone on the offensive earlier in the race. Sonny Colbrelli totted up seven top-ten finishes, while Jan Tratnik, Matej Mohoric, and Ivan Cortina all gained valuable experience in their maiden Tours. On paper, two stage wins was a great achievement, especially given the number of squads who arrived in Paris with little to show for their efforts. Nibali's parting gift before his move to Trek is announced was a moment to savour for his loyal fans and proved that despite the ageing legs he can still turn out classy displays when called upon.

Lowlights
Bahrain-Merida's Tour de France will, however, forever be overshadowed by the controversial decision from Rohan Dennis to leave the race ahead of the TT. It not only took away his best chance of winning the stage but it also robbed cycling fans of seeing the one rainbow jersey in the race that wasn't worn by a rider with a dubious past. The Australian's departure was a no-win situation for all involved but he clearly had his reasons. The media storm that developed – partly created by the team's inability to deal with the situation – also brought into focus the lack of clear authority at the top of the management structure. (DB).

Bora-Hansgrohe

Jerseys: Green (Peter Sagan)
GC: Emanuel Buchmann - 4th
Stage wins: 1

Highlights
A stage win and a record-setting seventh green jersey for Peter Sagan but it was Emanuel Buchmann and the team's climbing core that caught the eye this time. Sagan's record in the race was still phenomenal and certainly can't be brushed aside with the three-time world champion finishing inside the top-ten in over half the stages in the race if you take out the time trials. When it comes to consistency and the green jersey he's simply on another level. However, Buchmann – Bernal aside – was arguably the breakthrough rider of the race. The consensus was that despite a string of good rides in the Pyrenees he would come unstuck in the final week. He had a history in such matters but when the race was on in the Alps he looked assured and composed. Patrick Konrad and Gregor Muhlberger gave valiant assistance and the fact that the pair, and Buchmann, are all 27 or younger, gives the team great hope for the future.

Lowlights
It's hard to be critical of a team that fought on several fronts and came away with a jersey, a stage and the development of an aspiring GC contender. (DB)

CCC Team

Jerseys: 0
GC: Greg Van Avermaet – 36th
Stage wins: 0

Highlights
Greg Van Avermaet never threw in the towel, even putting in a late attack on the Champs-Élysées in a bid to upset the sprinters, but it always felt that the Olympic champion was just short of his very best. He was fourth in Épernay and third in Gap, picking up several combativity prizes along the way but arguably his best ride came in Valloire. After being in the break and narrowly missing out the day before he put in a determined performance as he looked to set up his teammates on the final climb. The sight of the Olympic champion pulling on the Galibier not only demonstrated Van Avermaet's ability but also his selflessness when it came to helping his teammates. Some champions would have simply given up after Gap and perhaps waited for a break to go in Paris but Van Avermaet rallied and although the team came away without a stage win they put in some dogged displays. They also held the KOM for a couple of days.

Lowlights
Losing Alessandro De Marchi and Patrick Bevin less than halfway through the race were huge blows for a team already lacking a pure sprinter and a GC threat. The team's entire race was based around breakaways and Greg Van Avermaet came close but failed to take a win that would have made CCC's season. Given that the team was formed at the last minute they can take heart from their collective riding but the management will also be looking at adding quality to the roster over the winter. (DB)

Cofidis

Jerseys: 0
GC: Jesus Herrada – 20th
Stage wins: 0

Highlights
The effort was there with Cofidis riders pinging off the front of the peloton on virtually every stage but they were found wanting against better riders and stronger teams whenever the race was being decided. The team were aggressive and showed more fight than others but that's as good as it got.

Lowlights
The stage win drought – going back to 2008 continues – with only three top-ten places throughout the entire Tour de France. Their sprinter went home early, Jesus Herrada made the top-twenty but never looked like a threat, while half their Tour squad are over 30 and show no signs of improving. The team is desperate for a winner to join their ranks and although Elia Viviani might solve some of the issues within the squad, Cedric Vasseur's team require more than one rider to turn them into winners at the Tour de France. Youth, dynamism and proven lead-out men of the highest quality are just as important as finding a replacement for Bouhanni. Another Tour goes by. (DB).

Deceuninck – Quickstep

Jerseys: 0
GC: Julian Alaphilippe – 5th
Stage wins: 3

Highlights
There's only one place to start, and that's Julian Alaphilippe's extraordinary Tour de France. The world number one was always going to leave his mark on the race but few expected that he would spend close to a fortnight in yellow and come within a few cols of winning the race overall. His win in Épernay was super, his time trial in Pau simply startling, and the way he came through the Pyrenees and then the Alps was like nothing we've ever seen from the Frenchman. Few would argue with the decision to award Alaphilippe with the combativity prize. Elia Viviani took his maiden stage win, while the squad was a constant presence on the front, thanks mainly to Kasper Asgreen.

Lowlights
Losing the maillot jaune with Paris in sight would represent a defeat for many but Alaphilippe hung onto yellow far longer than expected, so slipping to fifth shouldn't be seen as a failure. Enric Mas looked strong until he picked up a stomach bug but he still supported Alaphilippe in the Alps, while Elia Viviani will be somewhat disappointed to come away with ‘just' one stage win given how many times he was in the right position but failed to deliver. However, if you're looking for real low lights then look no further than Patrick Lefevere labelling those that ask legitimate questions around performance as ‘brainless'. (DB).

Dimension Data

Jerseys: 0
GC: Roman Kreuziger - 16th
Stage wins: 0

Highlights
Roman Kreuziger was decent in the Pyrenees and went on to finish 16th overall. Giacomo Nizzolo finished fourth on the opening stage. That's pretty much it.

Lowlights
The only starting point is the controversial decision to omit Mark Cavendish from their line-up, which overshadowed their build-up and was only going to amplify any shortcomings thereafter. Nizzolo, effectively the replacement sprinter, grabbed a fourth place on stage 1 but that was as near as they got. It's never a good sign when someone says they're surprised to be selected – in the team's press release – and Steve Cummings was duly well below the level that saw him bag two stages for the team in previous years. Edvald Boasson Hagen's best chance for a win – in Colmar on stage 5 – was scuppered by a mechanical, Ben King tried for breaks but didn't get very far, and Michael Valgren is still not the rider he was last year. One to forget and the lack of success will only bolster those in the Cavendish camp. (PF)

EF-Education First

Jerseys: 0
GC: Rigoberto Uran – 7th
Stage wins: 0

Highlights
This was a solid performance from the American team. They rallied around Uran and helped him to seventh overall, while a busted-up Michael Woods and Simon Clarke both rode aggressively and intelligently when given their chances. Tanel Kangert looks increasingly like one of the most underrated but shrewd signings of the year but there were no firework moments for the men in pink. Sebastian Langeveld created a heartwarming to story to come away with the Lanterne Rouge, which probably means the team's clothing brand will design a new jersey that you'll need to re-mortgage your house to afford.

Lowlights
Losing Tejay van Garderen early in the race was a blow but more significantly the stage to Albi where team miss-timed their efforts and Uran was left behind in the crosswinds had a more detrimental effect. For a rider who rides defensively in the mountains, it was a huge blow to his GC chances. He picked himself up in the Pyrenees and Alps but the damage had already been done. Still, this was the Colombian's second-best performance in the Tour de France. Maybe we expected more from Tour of Flanders winner Alberto Bettiol.

Groupama - FDJ

Jerseys: 0
GC: David Gaudu – 13th
Stage wins: 1

Highlights
Thibaut Pinot brought a nation to the brink of jubilation before endearing himself even more in their hearts with his tearful departure from the race. It's difficult to measure where Pinot's star falls between a 22-year-old winner and another French favourite, Julian Alaphilippe in terms of the overall complexion but the Groupama-FDJ rider has a lot to proud of. He took the race to the dominant force of Team Ineos and had them on the ropes by the time the race left the Pyrenees. The term panache is often overused but his win on the Tourmalet and second place the next day when he launched a long-range attack and rode the entire field off his wheel were two performances that will live long in the memory. It wasn't just the Pinot show either with David Gaudu also impressing at the tender age of 22.

Lowlights
The sight of Pinot quitting the race in tears and leaving in and FDJ team car provided a telling reminder that no matter how much entertainment the public demands from their cycling heroes these are still human beings and not robotic performers. Pinot's attempt at riding through the pain, tears rolling down his face as a teammate tried to console him was heartbreaking to see and one of the most defining moments of the race. But for that freak accident who knows where the Frenchman could have finished but his departure certainly robbed the race of one its stars. The talk of this being Pinot's now or never moment seems premature. He's still under 30 and has entered the prime of his career. The biggest battle will be coming back from the mental aspects of this year's race, but he's shown the needed fortitude to pick himself up from setbacks in the past. (DB).