Friday Group Ride #6 Wrap

It’s tough to boil down allegiances to teams, to isolate love for a formation independent of its riders and it showed in your answers. No matter how much we might want to identify a team’s personality with precepts of management, director style or strength in a set of races, we still track back to the names flying the colors.

To this end: Were Quick Step not the dominant team in the Northern Classics, they wouldn’t have made this list. At all. Their lack of native English-speaking riders loses them the jingo vote and without an ongoing streak of wins on cobbles, there wouldn’t be much to love. Let’s not be too surprised. We love them precisely because they kick ass.

The revelation was your love for Team BMC. By signing Big George (media outlets are contractually bound to use the adjective “big” before any mention of Lance Armstrong’s former lieutenant), Alessandro Ballan and—more important—Cadel Evans, BMC led the voting nearly three to one. What?

Reader Blue summed it up best when he called BMC an “underdog supergroup.” I’m still trying to get my head around that image. It’s like pairing John Paul Jones (everyone’s favorite invisible bassist) with David Gilmour (the world’s most impressive withdrawn guitarist), Anthony Kiedis (a truly underrated singer and songwriter) and Pete Thomas (who modestly backed up Elvis Costello on album after great album). An underrated supergroup. God, I’d buy that album without ever hearing a single song. Asia wouldn’t stand a chance.

Cervelo Test team got the next most votes and that illustrated a curious point: This underdog love thing isn’t just talk. The two teams that got the greatest number of points are both Pro Continental teams, not ProTour teams. How weird is that?

The strange corollary to this point is that only two teams, Radio Shack and HTC-Columbia got some negative votes. Consider these the hanging chads of the cycling world. HTC-Columbia is so dominant in field sprints that a win by them has the ability to downright disappoint some of you. Worse yet, there’s some noticeable backlash against Team Radio Shack before the first European race has ever been run. (Especially strange was how one reader disliked a team composed of old guys, but still digs Jens Voigt. Perhaps it’s a good thing the German powerhouse didn’t join an American team for his final season).

Garmin-Slipstream would almost certainly have faired better had they not joined the ProTour, but they scored as well as Quick Step, The Shack, Sky and HTC-Columbia, unless you figure in The Shack’s negative votes, and then they don’t fare so well.

If RKP had the ability to control race outcomes just to keep you folks happy, we would do well to make sure that Saxo Bank wins every tenth race that BMC or Cervelo doesn’t win. Settling the Grand Tours could be hard, but in this scenario, neither Astana nor Radio Shack would have a chance.

Sky may have bought themselves a world class team, but they have yet to buy your love.

Image courtesy BMC Cycling Team

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  1. Champs

    BMC is just 2008’s Team Slipstream with a bigger head start. Money CAN buy a couple of world champions and some respect if you don’t just come out of the blue, so to speak.

  2. Souleur

    @ Da Robot, so who’s to your liking, and how do you find you make your judgements on da matter? Your pull up front:-)

  3. Da Robot

    I’m a Quick Step fan. Devolder, Chavanel and Boonen. Belgium. Flooring products. Grit. Toughness. Audacity. Like the A-Team, except on bikes.

    True, they’re not much for the Grand Tours, but there’s more to life.

    When the Tours are on, I will pull for Cervelo and BMC, Sastre, Evans, Hushovd.

  4. George

    Regarding HTC and the Shack, it reminds me of the yankee’s or the dallas cowboys from the 90s.

    It’s important to have an evil empire to hate.

    I think Cervelo can come away from the tour with two jerseys, but I’m not sure which two.

    1. Author

      I knew there would be some folks who’d disagree with my characterization. It was inevitable; I bought Asia’s first two albums. My judgement on supergroups can’t be trusted.

  5. Big Mikey

    Good summary, Padraig.

    Interesting, the love for Cervelo. They have Sastre and Hushovd, both studs, but not much for personality. I see Gerrans and Haussler, but the team itself doesn’t seem to have a clear persona.

    Seems like the commenters are largely fans of balance in the Pro Tour, teams to challenge QuickStep in the spring races and Astana/Shack in the tours.

  6. The D

    What? No love for Fuji-Foot Fetish or whatever the hell they’re called? How can you not root for the guys who have to wear that uniform? Then again, if Hot Dog on a Stick sponsored a cycling team (and, let’s fact it, they should), I’d root for them like no one’s business.

    As for The Shack, I actually like Lance and Levi. There, I said it. I get it, the core never likes the transcendent star… but Lance is lot more “just a cyclist” than, say, Tiger is “just a golfer,” or Federer is “just a tennis player.” That said, no one really has a strong opinion on Radio Shack. I wish the sponsor were McDonalds or Chevy or something. I would love for a infamously and shabby American company to challenge the most demanding, storied and European races in the world. It would give us some underdog-ness to hang onto, which is a lot more fun.

    Maybe if the Shack plays up the DIY ethos, I might be into them more.

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