Team Sky 2013
WorldTour Ranking: 2nd /19
Win Count: 35
Top riders: Christopher Froome (2nd), Richie Porte (10th), Sergio Henao (18th), Rigoberto Uran (27th)
It was another Jekyll and Hyde season for Team Sky with dominant performances in stage races contrasting to another disappointing run in the Classics.
It’s of course unfair to be too critical of a team that won the Tour de France for a second consecutive year – the first squad to do so since US Postal or Telekom depending on your interpretation of the record books – but Chris Froome was a near unbeatable force in multi-day events, collecting stage race titles from the start of the season, all the way through to his Tour win in July.
In fact Froome won every stage race he started leading up to the Tour 2013, bar Tirreno-Adriatico, with wins in Oman, Criterium International, Romandie, and the Dauphine, all before the team’s marquee outing in July.
Aside from Froome, the team picked up a batch of impressive results with Richie Porte winning Paris-Nice and Rigoberto Uran winning a stage and slotting into second overall at the Giro d’Italia. In total, Team Sky won 35 races at an average of over one per-week between January and October, with enough points to claim a close second place behind Movistar in the UCI’s WorldTour rankings.
While there was much for the team and their supporters to cheer about, the 2013 season had its setbacks too. Targeting the Giro d'Italia always came with risks and it was always going to be impossible for the side-burned one to repeat the exploits of 2012 but his capitulation on the wet and cold roads of Italy, followed by his failure to make the Tour team due to an injury took some of the shine off Bradley Wiggins’ star. His resurgence towards the final months of the season brought about wins in the Tour of Britain, a stage in Pologne and a medal at the Worlds in the time trial, all demonstrating that while his Grand Tour days may be behind him, he still possesses the desire to succeed.
In the one day Classics arena the team were found wanting yet again. Much was made of their new build up and training regime at altitude instead of racing but from Milan-San Remo all the way until Paris-Roubaix the team failed to register a result worthy of their budget, roster and objectives. Hayman and Stannard flew the flag on occasions and lady luck was certainly absent at times but Geraint Thomas, Bernhard Eisel and the consistently under par [ed. in the Classics at least] Edvald Boasson Hagen, all failed to deliver. Henao popped up with a fine podium place in Fleche Wallone but by then it was too little too late.
The John Tiernan Locke blood values case may continue to rumble on into 2014 but the pressure Team Sky faced during the Tour with repeated questions and allegations of doping eclipsed anything that the Devon-born rider has so far brought upon them. With the race sown up relatively early the team fought to establish credibility both for their own souls and that of the sport. Coming so soon after USADA’s reasoned decision it’s arguable that any winner, from any team, would have been put under the spotlight. Never mind the fact that Froome has enjoyed a meteoric rise since the Vuelta in 2011.
Sky’s stage racing wins:
Chris Froome: Tour of Oman, Criterium International, Tour of Romandie, Critérium du Dauphiné, Tour de France
Richie Porte: Paris-Nice
Edvald Boasson Hagen: Tour of Norway
Bradley Wiggins: Tour of Britain