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Penny Pinching [finished]
August 2020: Eneco Tour (2/2)

The time trial was a complete disappointment for Köszegi. He was only 23rd and can bury his goal of making the final top 10. On the other hand, Hermans rode an extremely good time trial, he was 8th, he's now 8th in the GC as well and has a chance to defend his position on the final cobblestone stage.

The most interesting results were those of the three winners of yesterday's stage: Cervilla (TTR 71) was best, 8 seconds faster than Senechal (68) who in turn was 8 seconds faster than Heubach (68). Cervilla has taken the GC lead by 10 seconds ahead of Heubach with Senechal another second behind. Heubach now has a real shot at winning the race, we didn't think there was a realistic chance only a day ago. He'll have to drop Cervilla (COB 72), finish ahead of Senechal and watch out for Sagan, who's just 43 seconds behind.

How to wrap up this frantic final stage? Let's start with the most puzzling disappointment, Mads Veiby. All the cobbles on the way from Tienen to Geraardsbergen were on steep hellingen, Veiby should have excelled on this stage, should have been able to protect Heubach all the way to the finish line. And yet he was dropped pretty early, he wasn't among the 40 best riders after two-thirds of the stage. With a monumental effort, depleting all his energy reserves, he made it back to the reduced peloton. He was able to protect Heubach for about 5 seconds and then he was done for the day.

While chances were slim that Biello could hold on until the finale, he also disappointed early and only finished in the large group which arrived 12 minutes back. However, other teams suffered likewise, many riders dropped out of the top 10 and lost 8, 10 or 12 minutes. Maybe that was expected for Castroviejo and Durbridge, but the list also included Cancellara, GVK and Boasson Hagen.

A positive surprise was Hermans (COB 63). He only lost 1'41'' and moved up to 6th in the final GC. He only had to let a group of 9 riders go, rode alone for the final 20 km and finished ahead of the next group.

The first rider who definitely wouldn't win the Eneco Tour 2020 was the man in the leader's jersey, Cervilla. He looked uncomfortable on every hill, cobbled or not, after the peloton was down to 40 riders he was always near the back of the group until he couldn't hold on anymore. He finished with Veiby, lost 3'34'' and fell to 7th in the GC.

That left Heubach, Sagan and Senechal, who were in the final group of 9 riders fighting for the stage. Heubach had misjudged his energy reserves slightly and had no sprint left for the final kilometre. Unlike Sagan who jumped clear and won the stage by about 20 seconds, and adds a 20 second time bonus. Senechal is 5th, Heubach 9th and last in the group. Would there be a time gap between the two? Would it be enough for Sagan?

No, Heubach wins the Eneco Tour! Sagan's gap was measured as 19 seconds, and that was the only gap recorded. So Heubach would have won by 1 second, but in fact he wins by 7 seconds, because he also won the final intermediate sprint. We had forgotten all about that, Heubach was only interested in causing the split to drop Cervilla. Senechal is 2nd, Sagan is 3rd, 10 seconds behind. Just for croatia14, who cannot imagine a 7 second gap unless he sees it in a table, here are the final standings... Smile

1Tjeu HeubachAviva Cycling
2Florian SénéchalTeam Sky+00:07
3Peter SaganTrek Factory Racing+00:10
4Arnaud DĂ©mareQuickStep Team+01:46
5Gerald CiolekQuickStep Team+01:55
6Ben HermansAviva Cycling+02:35
7Abelardo CervillaTeam Giant - Shimano+03:11
8Lars BoomOrica - GreenEDGE+03:35
9Tony GallopinTinkoff - Saxo+04:03
10Michael MatthewsMovistar Team+04:16

What a coup for Heubach! Ahead of the hilly stage 5 I was thinking, silly me, I didn't bring anybody to target this stage. That's why Veiby attacked, if they'd let him go, that'd be nice, he could surely win the stage and would then have a shot at overall. But, realistically, the peloton did not allow him to get away. Heubach was the last resort, just to have somebody in the breakaway, with no shot at winning the stage, there were bound to be riders in the group who can easily beat his HIL 70. But nobody had more than HIL 71 and despite that and despite three breakaway riders only being seconds behind in the GC, they held on for the win and enough of a time gap.

August 2020: Vattenfall Cyclassics

Race squad: Hermans, Heubach, Lammertink, Myles, Pedrocca, Roinas, Tewelde, Veiby

I once again was unable to coax a realistic result out of this race. Biello is riding the Vuelta, but with Donald Myles (currently SPR 78) we have another exciting young sprinter and the goal was to get him into the top 10. Roinas and Eneco Tour winner Heubach were his designated leadouts, while Pedrocca represented us in the breakaway, which was caught well in time.

This year the tough little Waseberg was on a narrow road and had to be climbed twice in the final 30 km. It was only prudent to take to the front of the peloton, surrounding Myles with his team mates. There were plenty of riders with our men initially, but then all dropped back one by one, waiting for their sprinters.

All except for a couple of BMC riders, but together with Roinas, Lammertink and Veiby they lost contact to the rest. Our three men stopped riding and this E2 was caught, but the other five remained ahead by 2 minutes without even trying. They rode across the finish line without sprinting, I forgot to gift Myles the victory.

Top 10: Tewelde, Heubach, Myles, Hermans, Pedrocca, Groenewegen, Zabel, Modolo, Bouhanni, Tibor Danko

August 2020: GP Quest

Race squad: Hermans, Heubach, Lammertink, Myles, Pedrocca, Roinas, Tewelde, Veiby

After another Cyclassics "debacle" I turned it down another notch for the GP Quest. I made sure none of my riders were leading the peloton up the final hill, 5 km out. And it worked, though only one sprint train formed, led by Cannondale for Tibor Danko. Heubach slotted into 4th position, Myles right behind him. In hindsight, that wasn't the smartest idea, Heubach can't really sprint and so wouldn't be able to help Myles inside the sprint zone.

I decided to set up my own sprint train on the other side of the road with the rest of my riders. Only I then forgot to fire up the train as we entered the final 3 km, noticed it 1600 metres out and then let them all sprint at once.

Our eyes were on Myles (who just made it to SPR 79), he sprinted past all the Cannondale riders and was only overtaken by Groenewegen and Modolo. 3rd fair and square, a fine result. Our own sprint train also bore fruit and made the GP Quest another very successful race.

The final result: Groenewegen wins the GP Quest ahead of Modolo, Myles, Duncan Birmingham (25, SPR 81), Heubach, Hermans, Ewan, Tewelde, Octavio Bilro (26, SPR 81) and Veiby.

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August 2020: La Vuelta (1/3)
*** goal: Stage Win

Race squad: Berhane, Biello, Falkenmayer, Hontecillas, Jorgensen, Kipp, Köszegi, Oughton, Zilioli

We made a couple of changes in comparison to the Tour, Falkenmayer and Oughton replace Pedrocca and Wikkelso. The latter two already won a stage each at the Tour, plus Wikkelso also raced the Giro, so two other puncheurs get their chance to hunt for stages in Spain.

Ahead of stage 6, finishing in the Sierra Nevada ski resort, Jorgensen was 3'09'' behind the man in red, Kwiatkowski. He lost 2'50'' in the opening ITT and another 20 seconds in the TTT against the Flowerman. Quintana was only 30 seconds ahead at this point, he rode well in the individual time trial but Astana performed poorly in the TTT, the team was only 19th, losing 2'02''.

The 2020 edition started with a full ITT of 26 km, Kwiatkowski was only beaten by Olandris. The hilly stage 2 featured a tough kick up to the finish line, but with the help of his team mates Jorgensen made the top group of 23 riders, Slagter won ahead of Ulissi and Mohoric. The first flat stage went to Bennett, who beat Matthews and Kittel, Biello was too far back after a late hill. Then Kittel won ahead of Matthews, Bennett, Jovanovic and Biello, who was followed by Debusschere, RJVR and Ciolek, this Vuelta has attracted plenty of good sprinters.

Aviva was 5th in the TTT, 37 seconds behind Team Sky. Then came a real test early in the race. The stage to the Sierra Nevada was only 119 km short and the last quarter was a long climb. Since it's the only mountain stage in the first week, we let Hontecillas off the leash, even though a breakaway success was unlikely.

The breakaway had a lead of less than 3 minutes going into the long final climb, Hontecillas picked a pace he could hold to the top. Jorgensen picked a very similar effort, protected by Köszegi. That was enough to separate from the peloton for a while. But then the favourites attacked, Quintana, Adam Yates, a little later Kwiatek and Froome, and all of them rode past our captain. But Jorgensen didn't panic, Hontecillas had eased off and brought his captain back into the front group. Eventually it was only Jorgensen against Quintana, and Jorgensen managed to beat the reigning superstar in the final sprint. He completes our last goal of the season, 14 out of 15, excellent.

Kwiatkowski arrived 57 seconds behind, Yates 1'48'', Froome, Ulissi and Mohoric 2'10'', Dan Martin and the rest lost nearly 5 minutes. Kwiatek is still in the lead, 1'18''' ahead of Quintana while Jorgensen has moved onto the podium, 2'06'' behind, just ahead of Froome. Could this be our first GT podium? It's still too soon to tell.

On the hilly stage 7 we wanted to place Falkenmayer in the breakaway of the day, but he was nowhere to be seen when then attacks came and instead Zilioli found himself riding with Porte and Rabottini. He was able to beat the former, impressively, but not the latter, Rabottini's HIL 78 proved too much. Jorgensen and Froome lost 55 seconds to Quintana, Kwiatkowski, Dan Martin, Ulissi and Mohoric. So our captain is still 3rd, still just ahead of Froome, while Mohoric and Ulissi have moved closer.

Stage 8 was no problem for Jorgensen, he arrived safely in a group of 44 riders. Sadly, the breakaway didn't make it. Once more Falkenmayer started at the back and Kipp joined the initial attack, but after two breakaway attempts were chased down our German puncheur got his chance to ride with Cort Nielsen and Schär. There was only one longer hill still 50 km out and Falkenmayer pushed as hard as he could, but it just wasn't enough to hold off the peloton. The stage went to GVK ahead of Debusschere and Ulissi. Five Katusha riders in the top 7.

The third hilly stage in a row and and an even bigger disappointment for Falkenmayer. Again, he started too far back and Kipp was the first man in a breakaway, but he gave up after a prolonged chase. Four riders got away and Falkenmayer joined in later and was the favourite to win the stage when it became clear the escapees would make it. He started his uphill sprint under the flamme rouge, Edmondson was already sprinting and hadn't even overtaken Falkenmayer... but Edmondson won. Two top 10 riders gained 33 seconds on the rest, Kwiatek and Mohoric. Jorgensen stays in 3rd, now just 4 seconds ahead of Mohoric.

September 2020: La Vuelta (2/3)

After the rest day we have to report another 2nd place for Falkenmayer. It was a flat stage and we were preparing for a sprint with Biello, but the chase of the 4 breakaway riders was so timid, Falkenmayer decided to attack and join the group ahead. It was a good call, on this short stage from Caspe to Reus the breakaway won by 4 minutes. One rider in the group was a better sprinter, Rory Seker, so Falkenmayer attacked 10 km out, which looked like the winning move for a short time. Then Wallays launched a long attack, caught up and pulled Falkenmayer along. But Seker just made it back in time for the sprint, we'd hoped he wouldn't have the energy reserves, but he won comfortably.

That leaves another flat stage before we hit the mountains again. It starts off with two hills and is then flat all the way to the finish line. More teams decided to take advantage of the fact we witnessed yesterday, that the sprinter teams don't feel like giving chase, despite so many strong sprinters in the peloton. So Falkenmayer was once again back in the escape group, again with Rory Seker, as well as Thomas, Puccio, Druyts, Werda, Damian Desclee and Fernand Stamper. Poor Bobridge also wanted to join in but never caught up and stubbornly rode alone all day.

The peloton cared even less this time and eventually arrived 12 minutes behind. Falkenmayer, wary of Seker, attacked earlier than the day before, after the final intermediate sprint 25 km out. He was caught 7 km later and attacked again and this time the move stuck. Next to his HIL 78 he also brings FLA 74 to the table, rode hard – and won by 56 seconds ahead of Seker, Werda was 3rd. Third time's the charm, it seems. More by accident Falkenmayer has also slipped into the climber's jersey by a point, he'll definitely only wear it for a day.

Stage 12 was mountainous and just 113 km short, featuring an early cat. 3, then an irregular cat. 2, 30 km from the finish, with a final climb neither very long nor very steep. Had the breakaway survived, it would have been an excellent opportunity for Köszegi. But three riders attacked from the peloton on the penultimate climb, Quintana, Mohoric and Adam Yates. Kwiatkowski's Katusha seemed to do very little to keep them in check, we made Oughton suffer at the front of the peloton until Katusha and Sky finally took over.

Quintana and Yates caught the breakaway, Mohoric failed to keep up. Köszegi didn't try to stay with the Colombian and waited for Jorgensen instead, to take over protection duty from Zilioli. It worked very well, Quintana won the stage 27 seconds ahead of Yates, Jorgensen was 3rd, 40 seconds behind, gaining 21 seconds on Kwiatek and 32 seconds on his other rivals.

The following stage from Laruns to Paso Tapia was a much harder beast, 137 km long, basically no flat sectors, 2 cat. 2s followed by 2 cat. 1s, the final climb was pretty tame in comparison, about as tough as the previous day. It was the perfect opportunity for Hontecillas to win a stage and don the mountain jersey. However, FDJ was unhappy, despite just three riders ahead, and chased for a long time, up the first two climbs. The trio soon became a duo, only Chavez was able to keep up with Hontecillas, and only barely. Then Konrad jumped from the peloton to make it a trio again and he's on the same level as our Spanish champion.

Konrad acknowledged that Hontecillas did most of the work on the two cat. 1s and didn't challenge for the KOM points. The speed in the peloton was quite low up the big penultimate climb and Jorgensen dared to go to the front with the help of Berhane. Without much effort soon just those two, Quintana and Kwiatkowski were ahead of the rest. The superstars increased the tempo, Berhane dropped away and close to the top Quintana attacked. Jorgensen tried to follow, failed, and let himself be caught by Kwiatek.

Then Kwiato attacked on the descent and Jorgensen had to let him go, ready in his mind to ride the rest of the stage alone. But when Kwiatkowski caught Quintana there was no agreement between the two and soon Jorgensen joined them. By now Yates was closing in fast so Jorgensen attacked, hoping the others wouldn't react, but he was mistaken. Quintana countered and rode away, and so did Kwiato... never attack if you can't follow the counter attack. Smile

The duo up front – Chavez was unable to follow - was save thanks to the small disagreement. Konrad attacked and Hontecillas rode a steady pace. He caught Konrad 2 km from the top, attacked himself and won the stage just ahead of the Austrian. Quintana arrived 2'15'' behind. Jorgensen caught up to Kwiatkowski and like Hontecillas, attacked with 2 km to go. He arrived 1'37'' behind Quintana and 20 seconds ahead of Kwiatkowski, Yates arrived another minute behind, Ulissi was on his own another 40 seconds down and Kelderman, Sepulveda and Meyer were 6 minutes behind Quintana, Froome and Mohoric lost even more time.

Jorgensen is now set for a GT podium finish, which would be a first for our team. He's nearly 4 minutes ahead of Ulissi in 4th, slightly more to Yates, and Froome and Mohoric are already 12 minutes behind Quintana and 8 minutes behind Jorgensen. The Colombian has taken the lead and is looking to complete the TdF-Vuelta-double yet again. Jorgensen has twice gained 20 seconds on Kwiatkowski, but the gap is still nearly 3 minutes.

September 2020: La Vuelta (3/3)

Biello suddenly seems wasted in this Vuelta, with the sprinter teams refusing to chase the breakaways, he'll have to try and join a breakaway himself. But on the flat 14th stage, it was once again Falkenmayer who represented Aviva in the breakaway. And once more, nobody supported Astana, and Quintana's team did no more than control the breakaway, which would win the stage by over 5 minutes. This time Falkenmayer's competition was stronger. Roux won the stage, Pichon was 2nd, Spijkers 3rd, Falkenmeyer 5th out of 7 riders.

Stage 15 looked perfect for Kipp (HIL 76 MON 73), officially hilly, but the two late climbs looked quite mountainous. This time it wasn't clear if the breakaway would make it, Tinkoff and Quickstep helped in the chase. But 3 minutes proved to be enough going into those two climbs. Kipp dropped everybody except for Olondris, though the TT specialist seemed just about empty towards the top of the final cat. 1. Kipp took a risk and used up all his energy for an attack over the peak, but Olandris caught him in the finale. Kipp still had a chance, he let Olandris open the sprint but waited too long to overtake him, the finishing straight was slightly downhill, he didn't account for that. A couple of top 10 riders snuck away and found the rest of the breakaway and gained a minute on the rest: Ulissi and Yates, who are now about 3 minutes behind Jorgensen.

Little changed with the MTT a day later, the riders pretty much arrived according to their GC standings. Quintana just beat Kwiatek, Jorgensen was 3rd, the rest were within 40 seconds of Quintana – except for Cameron Meyer, who lost 3 minutes.

We didn't forget about the idea to send Biello into a breakaway and it paid off on the flat stage 17. He confidently took the lead in the last 16 km and sprinted from the front, it was no contest, he easily beat Seker, Werda and the rest. Biello is finally off the mark, this was his first professional victory, after getting close in several mass sprints.

Just two more mountain stages and two flat stages to go. Stage 18 could be considered the queen stage, it's the longest of the mountain stages, though still just 166 km short, mostly flat in the first third and then 6 climbs, cat. 2 or higher, including a mountaintop finish. Hontecillas looked to secure his jersey and nearly doubled his KOM points total. His toughest opponent for the stage was 35-year old Porte, but he dropped him on the final climb to win by 2 minutes, his second stage in this Vuelta.

Astana gave the breakaway a lot of room, the gap was up to 23 minutes and Hontecillas was "only" 29 minutes behind in the GC. Cannondale and Quickstep had to start chasing. In the end Ulissi was the best GC rider on the day, he hid into a headwind and let the others attack first. He finished 15'37'' behind Hontecillas. Jorgensen and Froome came next, ahead of the rest of the top 6, but the gaps only amounted to seconds. But Hontecillas has jumped to 7th in the GC, Porte to 9th.

Köszegi had his final Vuelta breakaway appearance, but his opponents were just too good, Simon Yates won ahead of Dan Martin and Philippe Gilbert, Köszegi was 4th out of 4. Further back Jorgensen decided to help Hontecillas. He could lose some time to Ulissi, his podium spot was secure, and so he helped his team mate to defend his 7th overall, what a great gesture. Wink

Ulissi gained 50 seconds on our captain, nowhere near enough to threaten him, Hontecillas retained his 7th position, Mohoric overtook him, but old Froome fell back.

Then boom goes the dynamite! Biello wins stage 20 in a mass sprint, beating Janse van Rensburg, Jovanovic, Bennett, Matthews and Kittel. And that despite – or possibly because – he was in the breakaway of the day again. This time, the sprinter teams put up a chase and timed it well, catching the group 5 km out. Bennett's train on the left was furthest ahead, so Biello latched on. Then Bennett's lead-out started sprinting, but Bennett got caught behind an IAM rider and despite the follow order Biello catapulted ahead and with enough in the tank for a final sprint, he overtook the rest. Man, that felt good.

Biello couldn't repeat the feat on the final stage and finished 5th. He again took Bennett's rear wheel but then lost it momentarily. Bennett won the stage ahead of Jovanovic and RJVR.

1Nairo QuintanaAstana Pro Team
2Michal KwiatkowskiTeam Katusha+01:57
3Finn E. JørgensenAviva Cycling+05:26
4Diego UlissiCannondale+07:36
5Adam YatesQuickStep Team+09:07
6Matej MohoricTinkoff - Saxo+14:05
7Xabi HontecillasAviva Cycling+14:46
8Chris FroomeTeam Sky+14:58
9Wilco KeldermanBMC Racing Team+19:49
10Eduardo SepulvedaOrica - GreenEDGE+21:05

Wow, what a great Vuelta. Jorgensen on the podium, I honestly didn't think I'd ever get this far with my wage restriction. Hontecillas won two stages, the KOM rankings and ended 7th in the GC, also a great result. Biello finally celebrated a win, if only from a breakaway, but then added an amazing win in a mass sprint against the best in the world. Six stages in all, with Jorgensen and Falkenmayer adding to the tally, another new record.

Stage by stage:
1Roberto OlondrisRoberto OlondrisRoberto OlondrisRoberto OlondrisJustino Aller
2Tom Jelte SlagterMichal KwiatkowskiRoberto OlondrisTom Jelte SlagterAlejo ElĂ­as
3Sam BennettMichal KwiatkowskiSam BennettAnthony RouxAlejo ElĂ­as
4Marcel KittelMichal KwiatkowskiSam BennettAnthony RouxAlejo ElĂ­as
5Bauke MollemaMichal KwiatkowskiSam BennettAnthony RouxAlejo ElĂ­as
6Finn E. JørgensenMichal KwiatkowskiSam BennettAnthony RouxFinn E. Jørgensen
7Matteo RabottiniMichal KwiatkowskiMichal KwiatkowskiAnthony RouxFinn E. Jørgensen
8Guillaume Van KeirsbulckMichal KwiatkowskiMichal KwiatkowskiAnthony RouxFinn E. Jørgensen
9Joshua EdmondsonMichal KwiatkowskiMichal KwiatkowskiAnthony RouxFinn E. Jørgensen
10Rory SekerMichal KwiatkowskiMichal KwiatkowskiAnthony RouxFinn E. Jørgensen
11Töns FalkenmayerMichal KwiatkowskiMichal KwiatkowskiTöns FalkenmayerFinn E. Jørgensen
12Nairo QuintanaMichal KwiatkowskiMichal KwiatkowskiNairo QuintanaFinn E. Jørgensen
13Xabi HontecillasNairo QuintanaMichal KwiatkowskiXabi HontecillasFinn E. Jørgensen
14Anthony RouxNairo QuintanaMichal KwiatkowskiXabi HontecillasFinn E. Jørgensen
15Roberto OlondrisNairo QuintanaMichal KwiatkowskiXabi HontecillasFinn E. Jørgensen
16Nairo QuintanaNairo QuintanaMichal KwiatkowskiXabi HontecillasFinn E. Jørgensen
17Theo BielloNairo QuintanaMichal KwiatkowskiXabi HontecillasFinn E. Jørgensen
18Xabi HontecillasNairo QuintanaMichal KwiatkowskiXabi HontecillasFinn E. Jørgensen
19Simon YatesNairo QuintanaNairo QuintanaXabi HontecillasFinn E. Jørgensen
20Theo BielloNairo QuintanaNairo QuintanaXabi HontecillasFinn E. Jørgensen
21Sam BennettNairo QuintanaMichal KwiatkowskiXabi HontecillasFinn E. Jørgensen


September 2020: Grand Prix de Quebec

Race squad: Denis, Hermans, Lammertink, Pedrocca, Sergienko, Tewelde, Veiby, Wikkelso

It's no news that the Canadian classics are tactically very easy to race. Take charge of the reduced peloton 25 km from the finish line, keep a high speed to reel in any late attacks and start the final sprint from the front. One of our weaker riders, Pedrocca, represented us in the breakaway, but it was caught well in time. Pedrocca still had enough energy for the finale, he became a member of a group of 31 riders.

The attacks from Mendez and Van Garderen just didn't stick, the last man to try was Pinot with 5 km to go, but 2000 metres out he was swamped by Aviva riders who were all on free effort. We wanted to form a sprint train, but the option came very late. Instead, everybody just started sprinting at the same time. The outcome? Depressingly oppressive.

Top 10: Hermans, Tewelde, Denis, Veiby, Mendez, Sergienko, Singh, Betancur, Pedrocca, Wikkelso

September 2020: Grand Prix de Montreal

Race squad: Bilbao, Denis, Hermans, Lammertink, Pedrocca, Sergienko, Tewelde, Veiby

Just one small change due to a cold, Bilbao replaces Wikkelso. The jet-lagged Spaniard tried to join the breakaway but wasn't allowed to get away after a group had already escaped. No matter, because the breakaway didn't survive.

We used the same tactic yet again, no attacks, just a steady high effort. A strung-out group of 45 riders fought for the win, again the attacks were all countered, mostly by other teams, and with 8 km to go our team was at the front. We formed two sprint trains with four riders each. For once it was a pretty successful idea. Three of our riders, Hermans, Lammertink and Sergienko had ample sprint energy to spare, but were bunched in and missed the top 10. But the other five had better luck and were fighting for victory.

However, a local crossed the finish line first, David Boily. He's Canada's best puncher (HIL 79), though he severely lacks ACC and SPR, so it is a surprise that he clinched victory. Our riders were close behind.

Top 10: Boily, Denis, Tewelde, Pedrocca, Veiby, Kulpaka, Bilbao, Singh, Molard, Talansky

As always, I'm as disappointed as you are. These races are simply too easy, I could play them at 8x speed and get the same result. Forming those sprint trains was just busywork on my part, so I'd at least be doing something. Smile

September 2020: WC in Lissabon

It turned out to be a mistake to select Canada as my team this year. Sadly, clicking on 3D race led to simulated results without any Canadians. Maybe just as well, I picked Canada because Aviva has Theo Biello, Canada's best sprinter, and it was a course that would have suited him well, flat with a few bumps. The season has been far too successful already, adding a WC win would really have been too much.

So here are just the naked results of the simulated WC races. With a little formatting, to make up for the lack of race reports: Smile

2020 WC Individual Time Trial
1Damien HowsonOrica - GreenEDGE
2Tom DumoulinAstana Pro Team+00:07
3Luke DurbridgeMovistar Team+00:26
4Ennex ArnoldTrek Factory Racing+00:45
5Clint FowlerIAM Cycling+01:01
6Taylor PhinneyTrek Factory Racing+01:22
7Alex DowsettAg2r La Mondiale+01:40
8Jonathan CastroviejoAstana Pro Team+02:00
9Oliver ReynoldsTeam Sky+02:15
10Rohan DennisMovistar Team+02:18

2020 WC Road Race
1Michael MatthewsMovistar Team
2Alexander KristoffTrek Factory Racing+00:08
3Rick ZabelIAM Cycling+00:12
4Marcel KittelTeam Katusha+00:20
5Arnaud DĂ©mareQuickStep Team+00:20
6Dylan GroenewegenQuickStep Team+00:20
7Nacer BouhanniTeam Katusha+00:20
8Giacomo NizzoloQuickStep Team+00:20
9Peter SaganTrek Factory Racing+00:20
10Octávio BilroTeam Europcar+00:20

Aviva's top ITT performer was Marrou as 25th. Our best rider in the road race was Myles, who finished 31st.

October 2020: Il Lombardia

Race squad: Denis, Falkenmayer, Hermans, Kipp, Pedrocca, Sequeiros, Sergienko, Tewelde

As successful as the second half of the season was, even reaching the top 10 of Il Lombardia with one of our riders has to be considered a great result. We're up against the who's who of cycling, Giro winner Henao, Kwiatkowski, Rui Costa, Mendez, Bardet, our ex-riders Hoem and Singh to name but a few, only Quintana is notably absent.


Our riders did what they could, they stayed near the front throughout the day. Heading into the final climb our 8 men were all still in the group of 31 remaining riders. There were plenty of attacks on the climb, but only one stuck: Diego Ulissi got away and won the race 31 seconds ahead of the rest.

Our directeur sportif should have taken a closer look at the map or remembered previous editions of the race. In the small overview it looked like a pure downhill finish, but the last kilometre was actually flat. Had he seen that he probably would have let his riders take the rear wheels of opponents instead of spending their little sprint energy too soon. Though it probably wouldn't have made a difference. We did place two riders in the top 10, as 9th and 10th, Denis and Tewelde, while Hermans was 31st and last in the top group. That's about as good as it gets until we find a rider with more than HIL 78.

Top 10: Ulissi, Kwiatkowski, Sergio Henao, Rui Costa, Mendez, Van Baarle, Singh, Bardet, Denis, Tewelde

October 2020: Tour of Beijing

Race squad: Denis, Hermans, Koloda, Pedrocca, Sequeiros, Sergienko, Tewelde, Veiby

By our new high standards and considering our men were still in good shape so late in the season, the Tour of Beijing was rather disappointing. Our team tried to make every stage as hard as possible, but they all finished in reduced or complete bunch sprints. Only one rider ever got a time gap, freshly crowned Il Lombardia winner Ulissi, when he won stage 3. Again it was a group of 31 riders fighting for victory, and again Ulissi was the only one able to leave the rest behind and win by 23 seconds. But he didn't win the race, because he was on the wrong side of a big split a day earlier, losing 3'36''.

So the race was only decided by bonus seconds and only Emile Denis managed to score any for Aviva with two 3rd places. That was enough to finish 4th overall. Our other riders all missed the top 10, though six were equal on time with 7th placed Debusschere.

The clear winner, by 13 seconds, was Nacer Bouhanni. He won stage 4 and was 2nd on stages 2 and 5, which also netted him the points classification win. The other two riders on the podium, Ben Swift and Maurizio Tonini, were also equal on time. Tonini is a 27-year old Sardinian puncher who's scored 4 WT points in his life so far, though he's won a couple of minor races. His victory on stage 2 and the subsequent GC podium finish will probably be the highlight of his career.

Denis was only beaten by Tonini and Swift on stage 2 and only by Ulissi and Henao on stage 3, so it was a great performance from him. Kwiatkowski, for example, didn't gain any bonus seconds. And of course we took the mountain jersey, with Pedrocca, who escaped on stages 2 and 5. I believe that was every WT mountain jersey of the season for our team, except for the Tour de France.

Top 10: Bouhanni, Swift, Tonini, Denis, Sergio Henao, Ratto, Debusschere, Kwiatkowski, Gallopin, Colbrelli

2020 Season Summary


The Aviva Cycling Team has already come a long way from relying solely on breakaways: Top 10 results just about everywhere, brutally good results in August and September and even our first GT podium. This career and story will be shorter than originally planned, I didn't think I'd be so successful so soon. Aviva might not win a monument or Grand Tour (though I wouldn't rule out either anymore), but the team is already impressive throughout a season. And I'm simply unable to take my foot off the gas. "The results need to be comparable" is my sad reasoning. Smile

WT Team Rankings 2020
1Team Katusha1875
2Aviva Cycling1594
3Team Sky1302
4QuickStep Team1248
5Trek Factory Racing1204
6Orica - GreenEDGE1193
7Astana Pro Team1188
8Movistar Team683
10BMC Racing Team507
11Tinkoff - Saxo372
12IAM Cycling274
13Ag2r La Mondiale267
14Team Giant - Shimano213
15Belkin Pro Cycling Team152
16Team NetApp - Endura113
18MTN - Qhubeka77
19Androni Giocattoli - Venezuela74
20SkyDive Dubai Pro Cycling Team40
21Lotto - Belisol38
22Bretagne - Séché Environnement34
23Lampre - Merida17
24Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise16

Unsurprisingly, Topsport Vlaanderen is relegated after one WT season with just 16 WT points, 6 PCT teams were better. The other team finding itself in the PCT next season is quite the shocker, Lotto-Belisol (38). Only 38 WT points from the team that was ranked 10th by wages! Promotion was achieved by old acquaintances, Netapp (1994 CQ points) and MTN-Qhubeka (1848).

Katusha greets from the top of the table (1875), captain Kwiatkowski (925) also wins the individual WT rankings. Aviva is once again the runner-up, though we increased our total from 1278 points last season to 1594. Sky is 3rd (1302), the team with the largest total salary, Quickstep, is 4th (1248). By victories Katusha also comes out top (49), Aviva and Quickstep share 2nd place (42). Heubach collected 7 wins, Jorgensen and Hontecillas 4 each.

WT Individual Rankings 2020
1Michal KwiatkowskiTeam Katusha926
2Nairo QuintanaAstana Pro Team717
3Rui CostaOrica - GreenEDGE664
4Peter SaganTrek Factory Racing645
5Sergio HenaoTeam Katusha486
6Diego UlissiCannondale483
7Daniel MartinTeam Sky408
8Finn E. JørgensenAviva Cycling345
9Emile DenisAviva Cycling340
10Thibaut PinotMovistar Team324
11Ben HermansAviva Cycling319
12Andrew TalanskyTeam Sky317
13Pierre RollandQuickStep Team303
14Sep VanmarckeQuickStep Team303
15Tjeu HeubachAviva Cycling302
16CĂ©sar Augusto MarrouAviva Cycling288
17Warren BarguilTrek Factory Racing278
18Jani TeweldeAviva Cycling275
19Toralf MĂ©ndezQuickStep Team272
20Chris FroomeTeam Sky247
21Lars BoomOrica - GreenEDGE244
22Mads VeibyAviva Cycling236
23Adam YatesQuickStep Team214
24Nacer BouhanniTeam Katusha212
25Michael MatthewsMovistar Team201
26Matej MohoricTinkoff - Saxo199
27Maurits LammertinkAviva Cycling191
28Tom Jelte SlagterAstana Pro Team178
29Bauke MollemaTeam Sky173
30Carlos Alberto BetancurTeam Katusha169
31Töns FalkenmayerAviva Cycling163
32Romain BardetTrek Factory Racing160
33Jur KulpakaAstana Pro Team160
34Tejay Van GarderenTeam Sky157
35Arnaud DĂ©mareQuickStep Team156
36Wilco KeldermanBMC Racing Team150
37Xabi HontecillasAviva Cycling148
38Dylan GroenewegenQuickStep Team136
39Sam BennettOrica - GreenEDGE116
40Roman KreuzigerTeam Sky115
41Robert KiserlovskiBMC Racing Team114
42Jesus HerradaOrica - GreenEDGE106
43Cetin PolatTeam Sky105
44Fabian CancellaraBMC Racing Team104
45Bjørn Tore HoemTinkoff - Saxo103
46Donald MylesAviva Cycling103
47Magnus Cort NielsenMovistar Team100
48Eraldo PedroccaAviva Cycling98
49Vuk JovanovicIAM Cycling96
50Ben SwiftAstana Pro Team94
51Sacha ModoloBMC Racing Team93
52Joseph Lloyd DombrowskiTeam Giant - Shimano92
53Florian SénéchalTeam Sky85
54Arslan KrapivnyIAM Cycling84
55Alexis VuillermozAg2r La Mondiale84
56Simon YatesCannondale84
57Jens DebusschereTeam Katusha82
58David BoilyTeam Katusha80
59Igor SergienkoAviva Cycling77
60Maurizio ToniniAg2r La Mondiale76
61Davide VillellaAndroni Giocattoli - Venezuela74
62Wout PoelsBelkin Pro Cycling Team72
63Bob JungelsTeam Katusha68
64Theo BielloAviva Cycling67
65Gerald CiolekQuickStep Team65
66Riccardo ZoidlOrica - GreenEDGE63
67Stanley HaydenTrek Factory Racing61
68R. Janse Van RensburgMTN - Qhubeka60
69Alexander KristoffTrek Factory Racing60
70Ivan SinghTeam NetApp - Endura60
71Zdenek StybarQuickStep Team58
72Richie PorteTeam Sky58
73John DegenkolbQuickStep Team57
74Rick ZabelIAM Cycling56
75Natnael BerhaneAviva Cycling56
76Cameron MeyerTeam Sky54
77Jan GresslienFDJ.fr54
78Roni SeligaFDJ.fr52
79Dylan Van BaarleTeam Giant - Shimano50
80Enrico BarbinAg2r La Mondiale50
81Taylor PhinneyTrek Factory Racing47
82Roberto OlondrisBMC Racing Team46
83Moreno MoserAg2r La Mondiale44
84Luc SpijkersBelkin Pro Cycling Team44
85Rohan DennisMovistar Team42
86Damiano CarusoBMC Racing Team41
87Vincent KippAviva Cycling40
88Duncan BirminghamSkyDive Dubai Pro Cycling Team40
89Daniele RattoBMC Racing Team40
90Arthur VichotAstana Pro Team39
91Matthew GossTeam Sky38
92Nicolas WikkelsøAviva Cycling38
93Eduardo SepulvedaOrica - GreenEDGE38
94Elias SchmähOrica - GreenEDGE34
95Medardo ArguedasBretagne - Séché Environnement34
96Rory SekerTinkoff - Saxo34
97Abelardo CervillaTeam Giant - Shimano33
98Marcel KittelTeam Katusha33
99José GonçalvesTeam Giant - Shimano32
100Hannes KöszegiAviva Cycling32
101Leopold KönigTeam NetApp - Endura30
102Hugues PitonTeam Sky29
103Marcel WyssBMC Racing Team28
104Philippe GilbertQuickStep Team28
105Jonathan CastroviejoAstana Pro Team27
106Guillaume Van KeirsbulckTeam Sky26
107Diego RosaCannondale26
108Ilnur ZakarinBelkin Pro Cycling Team25
109Vladimir KolodaAviva Cycling23
110Patrick KonradCannondale22
111Rivelino LaurieIAM Cycling22
112Pello BilbaoAviva Cycling21
113Stefan KirchmairTeam NetApp - Endura21
114Matteo RabottiniCannondale20
115Julian ArredondoTeam Katusha20
116Peter VelitsAstana Pro Team20
117Ramunas NavardauskasTeam Katusha20
118Tony GallopinTinkoff - Saxo20
119Rein TaaramaeAstana Pro Team18
120Lawson CraddockBMC Racing Team18
121Giacomo NizzoloQuickStep Team16
122Luke DurbridgeMovistar Team16
123Jason McLeanAviva Cycling16
124Silvio HerklotzMovistar Team16
125Rudy MolardLampre - Merida16
126Joshua EdmondsonIAM Cycling16
127Anthony RouxTinkoff - Saxo16
128Tom DumoulinAstana Pro Team15
129Gianfranco ZilioliAviva Cycling14
130Caleb EwanOrica - GreenEDGE14
131Wim De TemmermanAg2r La Mondiale13
132Gerardo ZamoraAviva Cycling12
133Damien HowsonOrica - GreenEDGE12
134Maxime BouetBMC Racing Team12
135Simon GeschkeAg2r La Mondiale12
136Thomas De GendtLotto - Belisol11
137JĂ©rĂ´me CoppelAstana Pro Team11
138Pier ThysLotto - Belisol10
139Ian BoswellMTN - Qhubeka10
140Edgar Augusto RiofrĂ­oIAM Cycling9
141Dusen PrazeresTrek Factory Racing9
142Hughes VangronsveldTopsport Vlaanderen - Baloise9
143Jan Bo MeinertTinkoff - Saxo9
144Simon ClarkeTeam Sky8
145Michael MørkøvAstana Pro Team8
146Ruben FernandezAviva Cycling8
147Maximilian WerdaQuickStep Team8
148Laurent PichonAg2r La Mondiale8
149Manuele BoaroBMC Racing Team7
150Luc HagenaarsCannondale7
151Johan Le BonBMC Racing Team7
152Nathan HaasBelkin Pro Cycling Team6
153Blair OughtonAviva Cycling6
154Johan Esteban ChávesTinkoff - Saxo6
155Matteo PelucchiAstana Pro Team6
156Louis MeintjesAg2r La Mondiale6
157Angel FigaresMovistar Team6
158Geraint ThomasTeam Sky6
159Vincent WeyzenTeam Giant - Shimano6
160Ian GilkinsonIAM Cycling6
161Boris ValléeLotto - Belisol6
162Jens KeukeleireLotto - Belisol6
163Octávio BilroTeam Europcar6
164Klaas LodewyckTopsport Vlaanderen - Baloise5
165Prparin FernandesTrek Factory Racing5
166Tim WellensLotto - Belisol5
167Edvald Boasson HagenTrek Factory Racing5
168Jack BobridgeBelkin Pro Cycling Team5
169Dario CataldoCannondale5
170Salvatore PuccioAg2r La Mondiale5
171Yury TrofimovIAM Cycling5
172Tony MartinQuickStep Team4
173Simon SpilakBMC Racing Team4
174Tibor DankoCannondale4
175Alexei TsatevichOrica - GreenEDGE4
176Francisco SequeirosAviva Cycling4
177Alexey LutsenkoMTN - Qhubeka4
178Pablo OrmadOrica - GreenEDGE4
179Salvador AndrinĂşaTeam Sky4
180Ion IzagirreCaja Rural - Seguros RGA4
181Natale ZaccheroniBMC Racing Team4
182Michael Valgren AndersenBMC Racing Team4
183Yonathan MonsalveCaja Rural - Seguros RGA4
184Jarlinson PantanoAg2r La Mondiale4
185Gaspar ViñasCofidis, Solutions Crédits4
186Jelle VanendertLotto - Belisol4
187Colbert SalaunBelkin Pro Cycling Team4
188Felipe CachoCannondale4
189Gaizko GrasTeam Europcar4
190George BennettTinkoff - Saxo4
191John Kjetil SønnesynUnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling4
192Emil Soeberg HovmandTinkoff - Saxo4
193Egoitz GarciaCaja Rural - Seguros RGA4
194Kenny ElissondeQuickStep Team4
195Sonny ColbrelliAg2r La Mondiale4
196Daniel OssQuickStep Team3
197Merhawi KudusAviva Cycling3
198Elia VivianiQuickStep Team3
199Jan BakelantsLotto - Belisol3
200Carlos BarberoTeam Katusha2
201Marco ColedanAstana Pro Team2
202Oliver ReynoldsTeam Sky2
203Carlos VeronaTeam Sky2
204Pieter SerryLotto - Belisol2
205Jasper De BuystLotto - Belisol2
206Ted ThiarraCannondale2
207Tiago MachadoMovistar Team2
208Patricio González AlbiolUnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling2
209Urvin RongenTinkoff - Saxo2
210Robbie WielockxOFM - Quinta da Lixa2
211Isaurindo ManaiaQuickStep Team2
212Antoine LavieuFDJ.fr2
213Stéphane RossettoFDJ.fr2
214Peter KennaughMTN - Qhubeka2
215Enrique SanzMovistar Team2
216Dadley ClayBelkin Pro Cycling Team2
217Tosh Van der SandeTeam Katusha2
218Jelle WallaysLotto - Belisol2
219Damien DescleeTeam NetApp - Endura2
220Robert SchreiberBMC Racing Team2
221Gregory FranckaertQuickStep Team1
222Wesley SulzbergerOrica - GreenEDGE1
223Ed WoodTeam Sky1
224Tim DeclercqLotto - Belisol1
225Jon Angeru LacruzMovistar Team1
226Fernand StamperTopsport Vlaanderen - Baloise1
227David De la CruzMovistar Team1
228Luka MezgecOrica - GreenEDGE1
229Alex DowsettAg2r La Mondiale1
230Edoardo ZardiniAstana Pro Team1
231Juul LopesTeam Giant - Shimano1
232Ramon SinkeldamOrica - GreenEDGE1
233Julian AlaphilippeTeam Giant - Shimano1
234Mario BabnicTinkoff - Saxo1
235Steve BekaertLotto - Belisol1
236Borja LlorensLampre - Merida1
237Karolis SanaevasTopsport Vlaanderen - Baloise1
238Ling PuspanathanIAM Cycling1
239Mario JursaFDJ.fr1
240Johannes HermanutzMTN - Qhubeka1
241Fabrizio CassigoliTeam Europcar1
242Alessandro De MarchiAg2r La Mondiale1
243Andrés LumbrerasCaja Rural - Seguros RGA1
244Alexis CamachoMTN - Qhubeka1
245Brian BulgacTeam Giant - Shimano1

Only three of our riders ended the season without any WT points: David Pozin, Fridtjof Røinas and Conrado Montes Torrecilla. I had named the season "Falling Stars" because I adjusted the AoD of four riders so they wouldn't dominate much longer. I think the season proves the point, Kwiatkowski, Quintana and Sagan still dominated many races and are ranked 1st, 2nd and 4th. Sitting in between is Rui Costa, who improved throughout the career but recently, at the age of 34, he's also started to decline. We might see new names at the top of the rankings next year.

On Monday I'll publish an Aviva season summary, I might just include a table ranking the riders by their personal popularity ratings, we'll also say goodbye to the riders leaving the team, looking back at their greatest achievements. The 2021 season will start a day later with a look at the new team followed by an overview of the WT.

Aviva's 2020 season roundup

We start with the list of noteworthy results 2020 which I updated regularly in the second post. By now it's not making sense anymore to treasure every top 10 result, making the top 10 has become standard. From next season on I'll have to tighten the criteria, maybe only podium finishes except for Grand Tours and monuments. I highlighted what I think are the three most impressive results of the year. How many riders can claim to have won the first WT race they ever entered? A mountainous stage race even, the Tour de Suisse? Well, Jorgensen managed exactly that, surely one of my all-time career highlights. He backed it up with a podium finish in the Vuelta, a milestone for the team. I also picked Heubach's Eneco Tour victory, which was damn exciting and quite surprising, too.

Noteworthy results 2020
(in italics: simulated races)

Stage 5 Tour Down Under (Oughton)
2nd overall Tour Down Under (Denis)
1st Classic Sud Ardeche (Hermans)
1st GP Camaiore (Falkenmayer)
9th overall Paris-Nice (Tewelde)
Stage 6 Tirreno-Adriatico (Zamora)
8th overall Tirreno-Ariatico (Marrou)
2nd Milan-Sanremo (Falkenmayer)
5th overall Volta a Catalunya (Marrou)
1st Dwaars door Vlaanderen (Heubach)
7th E3 Harelbeke (Veiby)
2nd Gent-Wevelgem (Veiby)
1st overall 3 Days of De Panne (Heubach)
5th Ronde van Vlaanderen (Veiby)
Stage 1 Pais Vasco (Marrou)
Stage 3 Pais Vasco (Denis)
Stage 5 Pais Vasco (Hermans)
3rd overall Pais Vasco (Marrou)
5th Paris-Roubaix (Heubach)
1st De Brabantse Pijl (Heubach)
7th Amstel Gold Race (Denis)
1st Rund um Köln (Veiby)
5th La Fleche Wallone (Lammertink)
8th overall Tour de Romandie (Marrou)
Stage 5 Giro d'Italia (Wikkelso)
Stage 18 Giro d'Italia (McLean)
7th overall Giro d'Italia (Marrou)
Stage 4 Dauphine (Bilbao)
Stage 5 Dauphine (G. Zamora)
6th overall Dauphine (Marrou)
Stages 2 and 9 Tour de Suisse (Jorgensen)
Stage 3 Tour de Suisse (Köszegi)
Stage 7 Tour de Suisse (Hontecillas)
Stage 8 Tour de Suisse (Kipp)
1st overall Tour de Suisse (Jorgensen)
1st Halle-Ingooigem (Veiby)
Stage 9 Tour de France (Köszegi)
Stage 11 Tour de France (Pedrocca)
Stage 18 Tour de France (Wikkelso)
5th overall Tour de France (Jorgensen)
2nd San Sebastian (Hermans)
Stage 3 Tour de Pologne (Zilioli)
Stage 5 Tour de Pologne (Berhane)
5th overall Tour de Pologne (Berhane)
Stage 5 Eneco Tour (Heubach)
1st overall Eneco Tour (Heubach)
1st Vattenfall Cyclassics (Tewelde)
3rd GP Quest (Myles)
Stage 6 La Vuelta (Jorgensen)
Stage 11 La Vuelta (Falkenmayer)
Stages 13 and 18 La Vuelta (Hontecillas)
Stages 17 and 20 La Vuelta (Biello)
3rd overall La Vuelta (Jorgensen)
7th overall La Vuelta (Hontecillas)
1st GP Quebec (Hermans)
2nd GP Montreal (Denis)
9th Il Lombardia (Denis)
4th Tour of Beijing (Denis)

KOM: Tour Down Under (Oughton), Paris-Nice (Sequeiros), Tirreno-Adriatico (G. Zamora), Catalunya (McLean), Pais Vasco (Hermans), Romandie (Bilbao), Giro d'Italia (Fernandez), Dauphine (Fernandez), Tour de Suisse (Hontecillas), Tour de Pologne (Berhane), La Vuelta (Hontecillas), Tour of Beijing (Pedrocca)

NC RR: Kazakhstan (Koloda), Spain (Hontecillas), Colombia (Marrou)

We also came close to a perfect game when looking at the sponsor goals we achieved, 14 out of 15, missing the 15th goal, LBL, by a hair. However, I had readjusted and reduced the goals quite heavily, so it felt a bit like cheating. Next season I'll only make a couple of small changes.

KOM Paris - Nice**F.SequeirosKOM
KOM Tirreno - Adriatico****G.ZamoraKOM
Top 10 Milano - Sanremo***T.FalkenmayerTop 3
Top 10 Ronde van Vlaanderen*****M.VeibyTop 5
KOM Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco *B.HermansKOM
Top 10 Paris - Roubaix****T.HeubachTop 5
Top 10 Amstel Gold Race***E.DenisTop 10
Top 10 La Fleche Wallonne*M.LammertinkTop 5
Top 10 Liege - Bastogne - Liege*****M.LammertinkTop 25
KOM Giro d'Italia****R.FernandezKOM
KOM Criterium du Dauphine**R.FernandezKOM
KOM Tour de Suisse**X.HontecillasKOM
Stage win Tour de France*****H.KöszegiStage win
Top 10 Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian*B.HermansTop 3
Stage win Vuelta a Espana***F.JorgensenStage win

I forgot to post the following table last season, basically Aviva's Hall of Fame, our top 10 WT points scorers so far. Ivan Singh claimed 442 WT points in 2019, which is still our internal record for a single season. But Jorgensen collected 315 points in his first season and if he can repeat that performance in his second (and last) season with Aviva, he'll move into the lead. Maurits Lammertink can also overtake Singh, but he will have needed four seasons to do so. Jani Tewelde even has a shot at becoming our all-time top scorer, his contract runs another two years and he's still improving at the age of 30. Next season he'll be our clear captain for the hilly races.

Ivan Singh2564
Maurits Lammertink3504
Cesar Augusto Marrou2457
Laurens De Vreese2456
Jani Tewelde3397
Emile Denis2390
Bjørn Tore Hoem2386
Rafael Silva2376
Mads Veiby2364
Finn E. Jørgensen1345
name: Still under contract (in 2021)

Outgoing riders

We only have to say goodbye to 8 riders this year: Falkenmayer and Kudus will stay in the WT, since their new team Qhubeka achieved promotion. So will Heubach (Quickstep), Köszegi (Trek) and Zilioli (Cannondale). It's not suprising that the weaker riders Oughton (UnitedHealthcare) and Roinas (Joker) only found teams from the lower divisions, but that's also true for Marrou, who signed with Caja Rural, a great catch for the Spanish team. Though he will be far from their top rider, they also have Mads Pedersen (who will win the continental rankings in 2021), Ion Izagirre and Mikel Landa.

Marrou had two great seasons with Aviva, scoring 169 WT points in 2019 and 288 in 2020. His biggest victory was the Eneco Tour last year (by 2 seconds), he added 7 GC top 10 results in WT stage races, most notably 7th in the Giro and 3rd in Pais Vasco. Heubach only has two professional seasons under his belt, he really pushed his way into the spotlight this year, scoring 302 WT points, winning the Eneco Tour and finishing in the top 10 in all the cobbled classics, 5th in Paris-Roubaix, 6th in the Tour of Flanders. He's improved further since then and could already be the top favourite for Paris-Roubaix next season, no wonder Quckstep snatched him up.

Falkenmayer was our 9th best scorer this season, he was 2nd in Milan-Sanremo, 5th Down Under and won a Vuelta stage. I claimed Köszegi was nearly as good as Marrou, but he only scored 36 WT points in the shadows of Jorgensen and Hontecillas, though his two wins were stages of the Tour de Suisse and Tour de France. Zilioli's highlight of the year was a stage win in the Tour de Pologne, while Oughton won a stage Down Under and claimed the mountain jersey. Merhawi Kudus had an anonymous final season with our team after winning several KOM rankings in the previous years. Roinas was among the three Aviva riders who failed to score WT points, SPR 75 and nothing else simply isn't good enough for the World Tour.

As promised, I'll end with a somewhat useless but pretty original table, our riders ranked by their popularity, the numbers taken directly from dyn_cyclist. Jorgensen at the top and Roinas at the bottom makes sense, but the rest seems a little random.

14T.Heubach50.529C.Montes Torrecilla8.4


Season 2021: Aviva vs Astana

Welcome to the presentation of the Aviva Cycling 2021 squad. And without any further ado, here they are:

AgeWageContTop statAVGCHGPot
Mads Veiby2542002021COB 8178.22.27
Theo Biello2335002021SPR 8177.51.47
Donald Myles2455002021SPR 7976.32.77
Jani Tewelde3055002022HIL 7876.11.66
Finn E. Jørgensen2555002021MON 8075.72.47
Xabi Hontecillas2545002021MON 7875.12.66
Ben Hermans3455002021HIL 7774.4-0.35
Jason McLean2655002021MON 7574.31.14
Emile Denis2755002022HIL 7874.20.46
Volker Frech2460002022MON 7773.90.46
Vincent Kipp2560002021HIL 7773.91.85
Chionesu Masakadza2445002022COB 7673.60.87
Hoang Doc Blaesi2355002023TTR 7373.50.37
Cisco Tacconelli2560002021MON 7673.50.03
Maurits Lammertink3060002021HIL 7873.40.05
Vladimir Koloda2760002021HIL 7873.40.75
Arnau Zamora2560002022MON 7573.40.04
Meelis Krasnopjorov2550002023HIL 7773.30.76
Igor Sergienko2760002021HIL 7873.30.15
Gerardo Zamora2650002021HIL 7673.30.64
Rotson Dracke2455002022MON 7373.00.03
Natnael Berhane2955002022HIL 7572.90.03
Eraldo Pedrocca2535002021HIL 7772.91.05
Pello Bilbao3050002021HIL 7672.90.14
Francisco Sequeiros2850002022HIL 7672.70.66
Ruben Fernandez2955002021MON 7572.70.24
Ramiro Gallardo2540002023HIL 7572.20.14
Nicolas Wikkelsø2535002021HIL 7671.90.64
Conrado Montes Torrecilla2635002021COB 7771.60.34
David Pozin2035002022HIL 7271.51.26

(Name: New signing Wage: Renewal)
(Chg: year-on-year change in AVG, Chg: for new signings since 1st of August)

Veiby really has developed phenominally, and Biello and Myles aren't half-bad, either, though as always there are too many top sprinters around. Hermans is the first rider who deteriorated.

Of the new additions there are several riders we are very excited about, as well as some who should prove useful but cannot improve much anymore. The weirdly named Swiss rider Hoang Doc Blaesi starts with MON 72 HIL 69 TTR 73, but has a 3-year contract and potential 7, we'll see how well he develops.

Meelis Krasnopjorov has also signed till 2023, he should become our first rider since Ivan Singh with more than HIL 78, though he looks unable to make it past HIL 80. The South African Chionesu Masakadza could become another Paris-Roubaix contender, he has the potential to rival Heubach in a few years.

Cisco Tacconelli on the other hand has reached his full potential already at the age of 25, he can win a KOM ranking, though he's really lacking ACC. Gerardo Zamora's brother Arnau is pretty similar to Tacconelli. (There are several Colombian Zamoras in the db, they can't all be brothers, but I like to think Arnau and Gerardo are.) Volker Frech is a decent stage racer, but his MON is nearly maxed out. Rotson Dracke and Ramiro Gallardo will be decent domestiques.

We will split up Jorgensen and Hontecillas, the latter will captain the spring stage racing team. Usually I prefer a spring captain with equal MON and HIL and decent TTR to cover a race like the Basque Country Tour. Hontecillas is mediocre on hills and terrible on the TT bike (TTR 61), but for the first time we'll have a good climber for the Giro.

And here are this year's sponsor objectives. This time we only made two small changes, lowering top 3 results for the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix to top 5 results. Veiby is great, but he still faces stiff competition and those races are hard.

Stage win(s) Paris - Nice09/03 - 16/03***
Top 10 Tirreno - Adriatico12/03 - 18/03***
Top 10 Milano - Sanremo23/03****
Top 5 Ronde van Vlaanderen06/04****
Stage win(s) Vuelta al Pais Vasco07/04 - 12/04*
Top 5 Paris - Roubaix13/04*****
Top 10 Amstel Gold Race20/04**
Top 10 La Fleche Wallonne23/04*
Top 10 Liege - Bastogne - Liege27/04****
1st in climber standings Giro d'Italia09/05 - 01/06*****
Stage win(s) Criterium du Dauphine08/06 - 15/06**
Stage win(s) Tour de Suisse14/06 - 22/06**
Stage win(s) Tour de France05/07 - 27/07*****
Top 10 Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian02/08*
Stage win(s) Vuelta a Espana23/08 - 14/09***


So close to a perfect season last year Sad your team looks like a proper WT team nowadays with those progressions in the main stats of the top riders though!
ICL // Euskaltel Story // Can't Slow Down // 21 and Done // Dreams of a Viper

since 2018: Radsim'05: Astana
Most Improved Team 2018 & 2019 // Manager of the Year 2018 & 2019

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Yeah, not looking so phoney anymore. However, note that many contracts are expiring and we'll have to let go of all our top riders and start all over again. And we're still missing a clear leader for the hilly classics, Tewelde developed nicely by AVG, but he's stuck with HIL 78 like the rest.

Season 2021: WT overview

WTCQWagesChgTop earners
QuickStep451129500-178kPinot, Betancur, Demare
Astana74950500+25kQuintana, Dumoulin, Jovanovic
Trek53855500+90kSagan, Vanmarcke, Kristoff
Orica67829000+87kRui Costa, Dan Martin, Boom
Sky36787000-197kMollema, Castroviejo, Van Garderen
Movistar88726500+81kMatthews, Howson, Durbridge
Katusha11633500-284kKittel, Debusschere, Henao
Cannondale99506500+17kUlissi, Goss, Modolo
BMC1010383000-320kSpilak, EBH, Kreuziger
IAM1211366000+37kZabel, Riofrio, Theuns
Giant-Shimano1414361500-7kCoquard, Goncalves, Dombrowski
Belkin1516333500-16kSvendsen, Haas, Pot
Qhubeka1818308500+15kFernandes, Hofland, Swift
Tinkoff-Saxo1113283000+13kMohoric, Kangert, Hoem
Ag2r 1312233000-73kKönig, Thiarra, Moser
FDJ.fr1719206000-15kVenturini, Pantano, De Gregorio
NetApp1617201000-1kSchmäh, Koch, Pohl
Aviva22151700+11kKoloda, Lammertink, Sergienko
team: promoted, rider: Earning over 100k/month

Katusha was #1 in both the WT and CQ rankings in 2019, but the sponsor reduced the budget by 123k. Still the team won both rankings again and yet the budget was reduced even further for the 2021 season, by a brutal 284k. Quickstep finally saw its budget cut as well, after several years of increase. Astana will the the team to beat this year, hence the season's title. Next to the three riders listed watch out for Jur Kulpaka, I've mentioned him a few times already, at the age of 28 he's now become a serious stage racer and possible GT contender.

A team that saw a nice boost to the wage budget was Lotto-Belisol, though the team isn't included in the list after the shocking relegation last season. 538k in wages (+84k) ranks Lotto 8th in the world, but not in this WT teams table. It also means that superstar Kwiatkowski, who left Katusha for Lotto, dropped to the PCT, though he'll get any wild card he wants.

As for the AoD adjustments I made last season: I don't know if it has anything to do with it, but Peter Sagan, who's still just 30 years old and hasn't seen a decline yet, has already announced that 2021 will be his final season!

Top riders by main stat:

MON: Quintana (82), Barguil, Van Garderen, Majka, Medardo Arguedas, Stanley Hayden (all 81), Kwiatkowski, Olivier, Sebastiaan Pot, Pinot, Froome, Egon Braglia, Villella, Jorgensen (80)

HIL: Toralf Mendez (84), Van Baarle (83), Koch, Hoem (82), Kwiatkowski, Mohoric, Slagter (81), Ulissi, Ion Izagirre, Sergio Henao, Bardet, Jungels, Pedro Campana, Manuel Machaca, Ivan Singh, Hugues Piton (80)

SPR: Vuk Jovanovic (85), RJVR, Bennett, Groenewegen (84), Matthews, Bouhanni, Jon Lacruz, Zabel, Cisco Lozano (83), Sanz, Demare, Vanbilsen, Modolo, Hughes Vangronsveld, Declercq, Cristofaro Naldi, Kittel (82)

COB: Vanmarcke, Heubach (83), Pier Thys, Alexandr Polyakov (82), Luc Spijkers, Dawid Grebowski, Veiby (81), Sagan, De Buyst, Boom (80), nobody with COB 79

TTR: Howson (85), Dumoulin (84), Castroviejo, Durbridge, Phinney (83), Dennis, Clint Fowler, Talansky, Ennex Arnold (81), Dowsett, Van Garderen (80)

January 2021: Tour Down Under

Race squad: Denis, Koloda, Lammertink, Myles, Pedrocca, Sergienko, Tewelde

The first race of the season and we start without any new faces, that must be another first. This year we've been given the tamest possible variant of the Tour Down Under, five flat stages and a Willunga stage also finishing on flat terrain. So in another first we have brought one of our two sprinters, Myles pairs his SPR 79 with HIL 72 and could be our best and only bet for a top 10 result.

I played the opening stage from Clare to Tanunda in 3D mode. Though doomed to fail we sent Koloda into the breakaway of the day. He did win top points on ther only classified climb, but we're not going to walk away with our favourite jersey this time. In the inevitable mass sprint Myles was a good 5th, only behind Groenewegen, Nizzolo, Jovanovic and Bennett. I then simulated the second stage, Jovanovic won, Myles was only 48th.

Since the course is so tame, I gave stage 3 to Stirling a go. After all, it is classified as hilly in other variants. Pedrocca and the rest of the breakaway were caught easily. But playing the stage turned out to be a good move. Astana was at the front working for Jovanovic, our riders assembled right behind the team in baby blue and suddenly there was a split in the final 20 km, just 18 riders left the rest of the peloton behind. Which stopped working entirely and lost 2'41''. Three more riders dropped back, two Astana men who'd been working hard as well as Pedrocca, so he could join the breakaway again on the queen stage.

Jovanovic won his second stage ahead of Nizzolo and Modolo, Myles was 6th, the rest of the team close behind. So we are suddenly set for another fine team result. However, it will be next to impossible to distance the race leader on Willunga Hill, Jovanovic has reached HIL 75.

A day later Nizzolo beat Ciolek and Jovanovic, Myles was 39th, the simulation is not being kind to him. So it's time for Willunga Hill, will there be any important gaps? Only Kern joined Pedrocca in the breakaway, sadly, there were no KOM points available. The duo was caught between the two climbs of Old Willunga Road.

The first ascent was still over 60 km from the finish, our boys pushed hard and distanced Jovanovic briefly, but the descent and long flat sector let everybody catch their breath again. So Willunga Hill once more, and again we rode uphill as hard as possible. Bardet made it to the front and attacked at the top, with five Aviva men in tow as well as Astana's Dumoulin and Sky's Piton. Quintana was a little further back and Jovanovic seemed out of contention, Myles in tow.

We made a small sprint train but decided to line up behind Bardet. Which wasn't the smart move, Bardet had wasted too much energy. Instead Dumoulin won the stage ahead of Piton, Koloda was 3rd and picked up a few bonus seconds.

Now it was up to the time keepers: Jovanovic, Nizzolo, Quintana, Myles and a few more riders weren't far behind. Jovanovic has to thank Nizzolo, he was clearly fastest in the sprint and had closed the gap to the top 8 riders enough that no time gap was awarded.

Victory would now be decided on the last stage, with only one second between Jovanovic and Nizzolo. Koloda has to worry about his podium spot, too, Zabel is only 5 seconds behind. Myles is 5th, the rest of our riders 8th to 11th. But there were no further time boni on the final stage, a breakaway of 4 riders survived, victory went to Canada's second best sprinter, Boivin. However, one top 10 rider crashed and had to abandon the race, Bardet.

Top 10: Jovanovic, Nizzolo, Koloda, Zabel, Myles, Quintana, Denis, Tewelde, Lammertink, Sergienko

Jovanovic wins the race just ahead of Nizzolo, though the Italian wins the points classification. Koloda is 3rd, ahead of Zabel and six riders equal on time, 28 seconds behind the winner. So it became another strong team performance Down Under by Aviva, 183 WT points this year. Astana is close behind wtih 165 points from Jovanovic and Quintana, starting the fight for the team classification.

March 2021: Paris-Nice
*** goal: Stage Win

Race squad: Denis, Kipp, Krasnopjorov, Myles, Pedrocca, Sequeiros, Sergienko, Tewelde

This may be a bit disappointing to hear, but we have no GC ambitions this year. I may have been a little lazy in planning the race clash, I sent all my climbers to T-A though this year both races feature mountains. Old school Aviva, just a hunt for stages and that is the sponsor's goal, while he wants a top 10 result over in Italy.

Paris-Nice started with a prologue which was won by Damien Howson, Myles was our best rider as 50th. Next came four flat stages, I simulated the first two because they were pancake flat. Pedrocca joined the breakaway on stage 4, a day later Sequeiros had a go, but neither attempt worked out. Myles was a fine 3rd on stage 4 and 5th the following day.

Stage 6 was considered mountainous, though it only finished with a short climb up Mont Faron, overlooking Toulon. Sergienko's escape group was caught early and we had the luxury of just watching what the favourites did. Ulissi attacked, then IAM's Rivelino Laurie did too much work in the group of 5 riders that formed. Ulissi attacked again on the final climb, Pinot followed and won the stage, but Ulissi leads the GC by a mere second. Talansky eventually overtook Rui Costa, Simon Yates and Laurie and finished 3rd.

We had plenty of riders to choose from for the breakaway on the hilly 7th stage from La Crau to Cannes. There were still 15 km from the final peak to the finish line, so SPR might come into play and we picked Denis, since he started from the front. He attacked immediately and was joined by Di Gregorio and Nathan Earle.

Slightly upsetting was that those two were only 4 and 6 minutes behind in the GC, making the job a little more difficult. Denis led the trio up several early climbs uncontested, but that changed in the second half of the race. Di Gregorio would eventually finish with 1 more KOM point than Denis. The dangerous Jungels was wearing the KOM jersey and decided to try and defend it with a mid-stage attack but he just failed to reach E1 and was only rewarded with 3 points for his effort.

Di Gregorio attacked on the final, cat. 2, climb, Denis rode a steady pace and prayed it'd be enough. He was pulling Earle, who also attacked at the top of the climb. At the same time, the GC contenders started their attacks and were closing the gap quickly. Denis caught up with Earle and Di Gregorio and had enough energy left for his own attack which went unanswered.

It was going to be damn close, but Denis did it, he won the stage and fulfilled our first goal, just 9 seconds ahead of Pinot, Rui Costa and the rest of the favourites. The bonus seconds put Pinot in the lead, just 5 seconds ahead of Ulissi, Talansky in 3rd is 35 seconds behind.

Kipp was our choice for the final stage, mountainous but with fairly short climbs and another flat finale. However, he faced strong competition from Rosa, Edet and Cattaneo. Kipp could even become king of the mountains if he took top points on all climbs. But a combination of only crossing the last peak in 3rd and Di Gregorio picking up two meagre points on one of the climbs meant they end equal on points but the jersey stays with Di Gregorio. Cattenao got away in the end and won the stage, Kipp finished behind Rosa and ahead of Edet.

Cattaneo and Rosa finish 4th and 6th overall thanks to that breakaway. Pinot distanced Ulissi a bit and wins Paris-Nice by 13 seconds. Talansky had a bad day and lost his podium spot to Rui Costa.

Top 10: Pinot, Ulissi, Rui Costa, Cattaneo, Talansky, Rosa, Laurie, Slagter, Van Garderen, Schmäh

It's become unusual not to see any Aviva riders in the top 10, we only finished 19th in the team rankings. And we haven't won our usual mountain jersey, either. But Denis fulfilled our goal, so job well done.

March 2021: Tirreno-Adriatico
*** goal: Top 10

Race squad: Ramiro Gallardo, Hermans, Hontecillas, Lammertink, Cisco Tacconelli, Arnau Zamora, Gerardo Zamora

The line-up shows the basic shape of the stage racing team for the first half of the season. Hontecillas is leading the charge, the best climber we've fielded in the spring so far. He's supported by the Zamora brothers as well as Gallardo and Tacconelli. Apart from Hontecillas they are all decent against the clock and offer either MON or HIL 75/76 to score from breakaways and to support their captain. They are joined for this race by Hermans and Lammertink, who have the highest TTR among our punchers.

Of course, the reason was that Tirreno-Adriatico started with a TTT which we won 2 seconds ahead of Team Sky. Ben Hermans was first across the finish line and was awarded the win as well as the leader's jersey for a day. I'm afraid those are the only WT points he'll score in an otherwise disappointing season.

We didn't bring a sprinter so I simulated the next two stages, Quickstep managed a 1-2 on both days, Demare winning twice ahead of his team mate Nizzolo. Stage 4 led from Amelia to Chieti, a tough hilly stage, 246 km long. Lammertink joined the breakaway but ran out of steam. The stage went to 35-year old Boom, who was the lone survivor among the escapees. Hontecillas couldn't keep up with the best, Bardet won the war of attrition and was 2nd on the day. Close behind him, each arriving alone, are riders who cannot climb well like Van Baarle and Piton. Barguil and Quintana arrived 68 seconds behind Bardet, Hontecillas was in the next group, another 41 seconds behind. Tacconelli's lack of ACC and SPR meant he lost 17 additional seconds in the final kilometre.

Ahead of the queen stage, featuring the brutal mountaintop finish of Prati di Tivo, Hontecillas is 9th, Tacconelli 13th in the GC. The Spaniard is the better climber and probably our better chance at fulfilling the top 10 goal, though there is still a tough hilly stage and the short final ITT ahead. Those suit Tacconelli better, so we'll be protecting them both. However, Tacconelli still only has fitness level 3, a slight disadvantage.

Our new rider Ramiro Gallardo joined the early breakaway of a dozen riders who were pushing really hard in the first half of the stage, Gallardo didn't get to relay. A gap of 12 minutes opened up, but by the time the finale started it was down under 6 minutes. The finale being two big climbs only separated by a fast descent.

Gallardo set a tempo up the first climb that dropped everybody but Warbosse, winning the stage was out of the question but he would be able to support Hontecillas on the final climb. Hontecillas and Tacconelli moved to the very front of the peloton on this penultimate climb, separating briefly from the peloton as the domestiques crumbled. Eventually, Barguil took over and our riders had to work hard to stay in a group that was shrinking fast.

Tacconelli couldn't keep up, he was pulling riders who were ahead of him in the GC and could threaten Hontecillas, so he stopped working. Hontecillas was now in a group of just 9 GC riders, but 4 pulled away near the top of the climb. Our Spaniard wasted a lot of energy on the descent to get back to those four riders, thankfully Gallardo had waited and could protect him for a while.

On the final climb, the other four riders proved to be stronger: Quintana, Barguil, sadly also Robert Schreiber (MON 79) and Bardet (78). Strongest of them all was Barguil, who won the stage by 1'41'' ahead of Quintana and Bardet, Schreiber was a few seconds behind, Hontecillas 2 minutes. But he was nearly 4 minutes ahead of the next group, the riders he left behind when he attacked into the descent, so it was definitely worth it. Those 4 minutes should be enough to protect his GC position, he is 5th. Barguil leads his team mate Bardet by just 34 seconds, Quintana is another minute behind, the race hasn't been decided just yet.

The next day the breakaway with Lammertink would decide the stage, but we had to concentrate on Hontecillas in the finale. Lammertink bet everything on a late attack and making it to the finish line without any sprint energy, but Malacarne and Enea Dal Canto caught up with him again and easily beat him.

As it turned out, we needn't have worried about Hontecillas losing time in the GC race, Trofimov, 69th, was awarded the same time as Barguil, who was 4th, despite some glaring gaps. There was a big loser of the day, we didn't see what happened nor when, but Quintana lost more than 4 minutes and drops off the podium and even behind Hontecillas.

The Zamora brothers were our best performers in the final ITT, both were 20 seconds slower than Dumoulin, who won ahead of Dowsett and Meyer. There were no changes in the top 10, the gaps were already too large. The double for Trek, Barguil wins ahead of Bardet and Robert Schreiber. That was the biggest result to date for the 26-year old Swiss rider. Hontecillas was an excellent 4th, though admittedly not in the strongest field of climbers. Again, no mountain jersey for our team, T-A was very stingy with categorized climbs, Malacarne won with just 10 points.

Top 10: Barguil, Bardet, Schreiber, Hontecillas, Quintana, Cameron Meyer, Sergio Henao, Dumoulin, Cetin Polat, Caruso

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