Friday Group Ride #6

I am watching the Tour Down Under and having a hell of a hard time bending my tiny brain around the idea of it being summer somewhere on this big, blue marble we live on. Intellectually, I get it, but like that water-spinning-the-other-way-down-the-drain kind of way, I just can’t quite believe it.

The other thing I’m having trouble with, as I do at this time every year, is figuring out which team is which in their new kits. BMC looks sharp in their black and red. Radio Shack look like a team of fax machines. Sky look like tubes of toothpaste. And of course, they’ve played musical chairs in the offseason, too. This guy is with that team now. That guy is over there. Confusing, despite keeping up 24/7 on this ever present Interweb®.

So, as I reconfigure my notions of what each team is about, I am wondering who you’re supporting this year. Not what rider. What team? Who are you pulling for and why? Is one rider enough to bring your loyalty to a whole team? Is national origin important? Is it style? Is it substance?

Enlighten me. Help me choose my own home team. Make your case.

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24 comments

  1. James

    I find myself pulling for Saxo Bank for no apparent reason. I think I’m drawn to their camaraderie more than anything. They always seem to be very team oriented more than other teams. If I was to pick a team because of a favorite rider it would be Quick Step because I like Sylvain Chavanel. Nationalities have very little meaning to me…kind of like religion, they both cause more problems than they fix! And that goes for cycling too!

  2. Mike G

    Have to agree with James – have to root for Saxo Bank, a squad with no petty rivalries (at least public ones) and a bunch of guys that work hard together for the wins. Being a serious homer, I’m always going to root for the US teams in the peloton, but Saxo Bank (and perhaps Garmin-Transitions) is the classiest group around.

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  4. Champs

    I like Columbia. They know the winning formula, and there are plenty of other capable bodies to drive the leadout train, even without the capable engineering of Hincapie.

    After that, I’ll be a fan of Milram, just so Germany doesn’t fall off the cycling map, and whichever team decides that the Giro and Vuelta are worth contesting. I’ve said before that all three grand tours favor more or less the same kind of rider, and the TdF isn’t everything.

  5. souleur

    Wow, Robot threw in a hill pretty early on this one:-)

    Its a tough question, and lots to it, so here we go in the 53×14 (its just January after all). I am pulling for Team BMC. They are a classy understated team packed with talent. Simple colors, black & white, but donned in the best that the swiss have to offer. They exude swiss craftsmanship, the bikes, the innovation, the DTswiss trim. Having the privilege of seeing their bikes up close, the geometry and size of tubing, the massive chainstays just drips with power and effeciency. The TT rig, is absolutely the baddest arse bike on the planet bar none, it looks fast sitting still. The kit will be just as stylish in 5 years as they are today, both clothing and the ride itself. However, bigger than that is how they have progressed the team from a small conti team to now making the move up ranks. They are moving up and doing it right, through gut effort, good relationships in the peloton and with smart tactics/strategy. They have my favorite, Hincapie, but I also greatly admire Ballan, he is a king stud and has support now to show off. And no, I don’t necessarily think Evans will win on this team, but there is so much more to them than that, because of my last reason. Lastly, IMHO a great tribute to any team is when they target many of the spring classics AND the grand tours and ride as many as they can, that to me gives to cycling much more than a single targeted race in July.

    For me, its not one rider. It is usually many things that draws me in.

  6. Aaron Hawkins

    To me its tough to follow teams and riders separately, because the success of both depends on the other. I prefer the Cobbled Classics, so its quite natural for me to be a Mapei/Davitamon/and now Quick Step fan. You can’t go wrong with that program, as you look at how deep their talent goes. I can say that I have been a Tom Boonen fan since the day he pipped Big George while they were teammates. Devolder has talent, but I must say Chavanel is really the new blood that impresses me the most.

    More and more, I feel that programs are not looking just for great talent, but for those that really complete the program. A great example is Cervelo Test Team. Taken apart, there are some fantastic riders, but together they form a much stronger squad than most of the individuals had come from. Think about how much support Hushovd had at Credit Agricole.

    So, I am easily split on Individual riders vs teams. I will follow Quick Step for history, Cervelo Test Team for the young guns, Haussler, Rollin), Team Sky for Wiggo, and sheer novelty.

    All in all, this is going be an interesting season, I’ve forecasted a few of my favourites for the Classics on http://www.winstonsbrand.com.

    Thanks for the Ride!

  7. travis

    Im kinda pulling for BMC to a lot this year. I would love to see big George H on the top step of the podium in Roubaix this time around. And for pure wonderment I kind of want to see how “the shack” will stand up to all the big teams in this year’s tour.

    as for individual riders.
    George Hincapie
    Jens Voigt
    Tom Boonen
    Thor Hushoved
    and it would be cool to see Vandevelde do something big this year.

  8. Lachlan

    Cervelo, Garmin, HTC-columbia…. guys that seem to do things right, good attitude, good ethics, and interesting depth to roster. (and great bikes)

  9. Craig

    BMC becuase they have Cuddles and Big George, also becuase they are trying to mix things up and punch above their weight. Gotta love an underdog.

    F*#k radioshack, there is nothing to like. They have a roster full of old boring riders, they will ride a predictable season and still won’t win the tour.

    The big Jens will get me yelling at the TV, as will Cervelo. Haussler and Hushovd – Oh F*#k yeah.

    Columbia lack class and are a tight unit, but boring.

  10. grolby

    I’m fond of Saxo Bank, probably for the same reasons others have mentioned. On top of that, my girlfriend thinks the Schleck brothers are cutie-patooties, a point which is well-taken.

    I’m also inclined to root for BMC and, yes, Garmin-Transitions. Garmin for that scrappy image, even if they are now a big-budget Pro Tour team; they still seem like The Little Team That Could, the exciting new American team on the Euro scene. BMC is similar in ambition, and miles-high in class and style. I can’t help but admire that.

  11. Ray Shakamuri

    Am rooting for Armstrong more as a scientific experiment based on curiosity (Can he beat guys younger then him by 10 years?) and am closer to his age group than the Schleck’s or Contador. Can the drive to be Numero Uno and relentless training and monitoring coupled with a immense but older motor get the job done in July?Hincapie of course, is another rider who has to win a big classic. Then there is HTC-Columbia with their roster of riders and a team that works well together

  12. Alex Torres

    RadioShack, or TheShack. Or whatever they´re calling themselves in 2010. Yeah, I´ve said it :-p

    I wanna see them squash Astana, really do. I wanna see them have a hard time and make it worth their money (win or lose) going against Saxo and pretty much every other team on the roads of Europe. Maybe I´ll take a flak, maybe not but rooting is part rational, part irrational (bigger part maybe). No matter what is said about JB & LA – and I aknowledge A LOT is said about them and I admit I get fed up sometimes too – I simply like those guys, and I like Popo and Levi too.

    I also dig HTC-Columbia´s precision, these guys are really dominating and Cavendish has a big mouth but also a larger-than-life sprint, not to mention desire to win. That combination is cool to me. BMC is also cool for other reasons, as is Cervelo.

    Well, I guess that´s it. Now let fire rain on me LOL

  13. Pedale.Forchetta

    I like Saxo Bank for the brothers, Sky because is British (and for the kit), Htc Columbia for Mark, Bmc for the bike and the great George and Liquigas for Basso.

  14. DamnYourHighCadence

    Italia Baby!

    Liquigas has so much grand tour firepower: Basso, Nibali, Kreuziger, and Pellizotti. However, infighting and machismo keeps them from working together and pulling out a big win. So frustrating, so tragic, so Italian.

    They even got a little somthin’ somthin’ for the cobbles in Quinziato.

  15. Kuzu

    I find it hard not to root for “TheShack,” Armstrong is the reason I started cycling as a young(ger)lad. But, Im also going to be rooting for Cervelo, especially in the classics and for Hushovd to win the green again.

  16. Michael

    Cervelo as they impress me hugely last year and I will love watching Sastre go for a Giro win (maybe a Vuelta too and try for 2 GT’s in one year? seems like the perfect storm of events are occurring for him to make a run at it with all the usual Vuelta heavy hitters focusing on the TDF this year)and the classics squad try to reel in a big win.

    BMC as I am really curious to see how that classics squad can work together – people keep on mentioning GH, but I think Ballan HAS to be the leader of that classics squad. he started coming on towards the end of the year last year after his disaster of a spring/early summer out with illness, and I think he feels that he has something to prove after such a dismal years showing as world champ. if he can be considered a dark horse even with a previous classics win to his credit I think he is.

    it will be a GREAT spring this year with these new teams and the various transfers!

  17. CK

    The BMC kits are ugly save Hincapie and Evans since they are champions. There is way too much red in the kit. They had some of the best kits last year with the Assos style and they do a complete 180. Anyways…

    I always seem to pull for Quick Step even though I wish they would show their face in the Tour more. Boonen was the first real rider I pulled for and I love to watch his powerful riding style. With the best northern classics squad, I can’t not like them.
    Tied with QS is Cervelo. I think Hushovd will break through this year for a big win along with Sastre. The way they stormed the peloton last was a thing a beauty and even though they lost a lot of quality riders, they should be able to come back yet again. Oh and because of the bikes, they are the best in the game.
    The team that has been growing on me though has been Francaise Des Jeux. They have some of the best kits in the business and they have been around for almost 15 years now so it is good to see that type of dedication. They are stacked with talent this year and they should be producing some great riders.

  18. Eric

    Favorite team? Easy…. Ibanesto. NO WAIT… Mapei… Uhhhh… Saeco…. Urrrr. CSC…Phonak…Postal…

    Ahhh forget it. How about anyone riding a Puegot? Yeah, that’s it… Puegot.

  19. Big Mikey

    It’s too early to form any emotional connection to the new teams (Sky, Radio Shack, etc.). BMC, though, should be exciting to watch; hopefully they can do some damage with that ready-made classics lineup, and out-QuickStep QuickStep.

    Would like to see Garmin take some back from the Columbia mystique. Stapleton’s getting annoying, frankly.

    Not a fan, but was interested to see Lance in fighting shape during the TDU. He was ripped. Four years ago, you’d never see him racing in January, much less on the attack.

    Other than that, it’s the usual array of individual riders……Flecha, Chavanel, Ballan, Voigt, etc.

  20. db

    Wow, glad I’m not the only one rooting for BMC to make the entire season interesting.

    As for individual riders, I will root for any of the following: Voigt, Haussler, Hushovd, and Devolder.

    So frustrating, so tragic, so Italian. So true.

  21. Sophrosune

    What team to root for? Personally, in the 25 years I have followed professional cycling I never cared for any one team over another. I have always been interested in individual riders. And, frankly, the team only exists to support individual riders in individual races. I suppose there’s the overal team times in stage races, but who cares? Strange question. It seems you have not asked the question that is foremost in your mind, Padraig. Go ahead, ask it.

  22. blue

    I’ll chime in with just about everyone else here being excited about BMC. It’s like an underdog supergroup! I dig Saxo Bank riders alot, but still can’t come around to Riis. Astana and the Shack will make for some good drama come July; at least it’ll keep things interesting, and even more so if neither one takes the cake.

    The difficult thing is Sky – I want to like them (I really do!) but I can’t stop thinking that it’s ‘Fox News Cycling’, and that makes me want to cry just a little bit.

  23. cthulu

    That is an easy one. Team Milram. Because I don’t want professional cycling to disappear in Germany, since that would be also negative for the amateurs. After a quite bad season (although 25 victories is pretty unrealistic even better teams did not manage to collect that many and no way i measure them at that) I hope things will go better form them and that they find a new sponsor. Also I hope Ciolek will do better. He definitely has the legs for it, but last season his tactics/behaviour in the bunch sprints were, lets put it mildly, improvable.
    Else I think it will be interesting to see if Cervélo can repeat their success in their second year and if BMC can stir things up as much as Cervélo. The rest stays pretty much the same, you have the big players wit a big collective of the top riders and you can either support or hate them because of that and the the underachievers whose riders gets the support in breakaways if there are no smaller teams in it.
    As a quick notice on the new outfits. There aren’t that many new ones, most got at best a tiny revision.
    Lotto – ugly!
    Quickstep – Yes! Lovely classical look despite being very modernly cut.
    Radioshack – Not really good looking but not as disgusting as I though after the first preview
    Saxobank – A bit darker, a bit more badass?
    Sky – nothing fancy nor spectacular
    BMC – red & black are always a good choice, design is ok too
    Astana – Ugly, ugly, ugly. Who the F*ck is responsible for the white sides???
    Katusha – I like the new ones, those little cosmetics done to it really improve it
    Cervélo – Back to black, also the little changes are little improvements imo on an already good looking design, switch to white again?
    And there is FootOn-Servetto – those are definitely something special…I just dunno if in a good or bad sense
    The rest is more or less the same old or did I miss anyone?

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