Jul 20, 2014

Rest Day 2 Report Cards

We’ve reached Tour de France rest day 2. Time to check in on the team report cards again.

A

Astana - LW: A - Still an A for Astana. Nibali won another stage and the lead he has looks nearly insurmountable. The team have done very little wrong thus far in the race.

Giant-Shimano - LW: A - Three stage wins for a team that doesn’t care about GC means an A. At least until the Champs-Elysses. Given the sprint battle royale that always is, the team needs to win that to keep its A (or get a stage win out of someone else like John Degenkolb)

AG2R La Mondiale - LW: A - Current white jersey, current podium place, current additional rider in top 10, stage win and leading team classification. Looks successful from this vantage point no matter what happens from here out.

Lotto-Belisol - LW: A - While it is concerning that Jurgen Van Den Broeck has dropped out of the top 10, Tony Gallopin adding a stage win to his day in the yellow jersey makes up for that. To keep the A, Van Den Broeck will need to return to the top 10 or someone else will need to win a stage.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step - LW: A - Another team where the A grade is on tenuous ground. OPQS needs something more, especially after Michal Kwiatkowski exited stage left in the white jersey competition.

B

Katusha - LW: D - Two sprint stage wins for Alexander Kristoff have a way of changing fortunes. Given his strength in sprints after long distances and when tired, he is a good choice for the final stage in Paris. In addition, Joaquin Rodriguez is still in the Polka Dot Jersey, though he did cede it to Nibali for a day.

Movistar - LW: B - Same as last week. Valverde is still in podium position and the team has been mostly invisible.

BMC - LW: C - Tejay Van Garderen has fought his way into a position where the podium is a legitimate dream. He can’t lose anymore going forward, but he should take time from his rivals in the time trial.

Netapp-Endura - LW: C - Leopold Konig has fought his way back into the top 10, hence the grade improvement. Had he been able to finish off the win on stage 13 (he and Rafal Majka were caught and dropped by Nibali at the end), this would be an easy A.

FDJ.FR - LW: C - Thibaut Pinot has been great, but this team needs a stage win, whether it’s from Pinot or Arnaud Demare, who has had issues with both form because of injuries and illness and positioning in the sprints.

C

Tinkoff-Saxo - LW: F - With Contador out, this team became stage hunters. And they got their stage, winning the Queen Stage to Risoul behind Rafal Majka. The grade remains lower because of the expectations, but the team has gotten something out of this Tour.

Belkin - LW: B - The GC challenge looks disjointed. Bauke Mollema is still in the top 10, but he leads the also rans below the podium fight in seventh. Laurens Ten Dam is also in the top 10, but it seems like he and Mollema are not working well as a team as they had in the past. The Lars Boom stage win on the cobbles keeps this from being lower.

D

Orica-GreenEdge - LW: D - Considering the lack of expectations, this team has still been bad. Only Simon Yates has done anything of note and he is now leaving the race on the rest day. There are a bunch of punchy hill climbers on this team, but no punchy hill climbing stages left. Only mountains (OGE has nobody for that), bunch sprints (OGE lost their best sprinter to a crash before the race started, left their second best at home and their third choice got popped for doping before the race) and time trials (all the TT guys went to the Giro to win the TTT there) remain so this is it barring a win from a breakaway (fat chance).

Trek Factory Racing - LW: D - Still nothing doing here. Haimar Zubeldia and Frank Schleck are theoretically in striking distance of the top 10. If one of them manages it, this grade goes up a notch. Still, this team is hopeless as far as a stage win goes.

Europcar - LW: B - I think I was drunk, or smoking when I gave this team a B last time. Yes, Pierre Rolland is somehow in the top 10, but that is the function of a destroyed field. He can’t match the top guys in the mountains and this team is a tactical disaster.

Cannondale - LW: B - It has become evident that Peter Sagan isn’t winning a stage. And his inability to get it done is causing problems throughout the peloton as the break doesn’t get a leash at all on any day where Sagan might have a chance. Yes, Sagan is going to win the Green Jersey, but he won’t win a stage with it and the memory will be more of his obvious disappointment on the podium each day than his green jersey win.

Lampre-Merida - LW: C - The only thing we have seen is Rui Costa and Chris Horner going backwards the last week. Other than that, this team is full of the usual Italian tourists that don’t care about this race. The scary thing is that unless Horner improves a lot quickly, the Vuelta will be even worse.

F

Team Sky - LW: B - Last week’s grade was built on Richie Porte being in good position. Porte is now 16 minutes behind and he took his teammates with him after they got sent to pace him up (Mikel Nieve was near the top 10 at the time). Now it’s stage hunting time for Nieve and Geraint Thomas. And they don’t look up to task (maybe Kiryienka will be let off the leash for once to go in a break).

Bretagne-Seche - LW: F - Nothing changed from last week. Invisible.

Garmin-Sharp - LW: F - Andrew Talansky is now out after his heroic 90 km solo ride to stay in the.race When the highlight of your race is your captain losing 32 minutes on a stage, you know it’s been a rough race.

Cofidis - LW: F - Nothing doing. Hope the Vuelta goes a bit better. Why does this team get an automatic Wild Card to two Grand Tours? They haven’t done anything other than Moncoutie’s Vuelta King of the Mountains run in at least 5 years.

IAM Cycling - LW: F - Heinrich Haussler nearly stole stage 15. That is the first positive thing that can be said about this team in the race. Crashes destroyed them, just as with Garmin, Tinkoff and Sky.

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