Cycling news - Recap: Which teams 'won' the spring classics campaign and which must do better...
The spring classics have wrapped up now, with Tadej Pogacar snaffling the final victory of the campaign with his impressive Liege-Bastogne-Liege sprint past Julian Alaphilippe. It's a good time, then, to recap the first part of the season and evaluate which teams came out of the spring with the best results – and which organisations might be wishing things had gone slightly different.
Teammates Kasper Asgreen and Julian Alaphilippe ride side-by-side up a Flandrian berg.
Them being the best-performing team of the spring is almost taken as a given at this point, with their cannibalistic approach to hunting victory. The self-styled Wolfpack got its campaign off to a dream start when Davide Ballerini won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on opening weekend, before continuing its marauding march through the one-day season with wins from breakout star of the year so far, Kasper Asgreen. The Dane took E3 in spectacular style before doing what we all thought was the impossible by outfoxing and outsprinting Mathieu van der Poel in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. To cap it all off, Julian Alaphilippe chipped in with a La Flèche Wallonne win to seal a truly successful spring.
Highlights: Asgreen topples Van der Poel at Tour of Flanders
Have been another success story this spring, with the emergence of Tim Merlier to bolster the efforts of marquee name, Van der Poel. Merlier took victories in Le Samyn and GP Jean-Pierre Monsere, while the latter managed just one win this time round, but what a win it was… the powerful wattbomb dropped on the climb to the Piazza del Campo in Siena which simply blew away the competition will take some years to forget.
'Legendary' - Van der Poel seals 'remarkable' Strade Bianche win
Will have no cause for complaints after a very good spring for Wout van Aert. The question of what they might do if the Belgian were ever to leave the team, or heaven forbid. get injured, has been raised, however… he was the only rider to get a victory this spring in the classics for Jumbo. They were two very good wins, however, in the prestigious Amstel Gold Race and Gent-Wevelgem.
'It’s a close one!' – Van Aert beats Pidcock by tightest of margins
Have been one of the most dynamic teams in the world this classic season, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Tom Pidcock who – in his debut season in the WorldTour – has taken a first pro win, plus a bevvy of podiums. Dylan van Baarle secured a wonderful win in Dwars Door Vlaanderen, a result he has looked like delivering for some time – which only serves to brighten the picture yet further for Ineos.
Tom Pidcock sees off big guns to secure massive victory for Team Ineos
Sit somewhere in the middle. They will be rightly delighted with the win in Milan-Sanremo by Jasper Stuyven, not to mention former World Champion Mads Pedersen taking a victory in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. However, things have gone a little quiet for the US-based team in more recent weeks – and were certainly not helped by the whole team DNSing Gent-Wevelgem because of a positive COVID-19 test.
Highlights: Stuyven's late attack shocks the big boys at Milan-San Remo
Moving to teams that might have hoped for more this spring, AG2R Citroën have struggled to deliver that really big result. The French squad has rebuilt around the classics with big signings like Greg van Avermaet to join existing talent like Oliver Naesen – however, both riders are yet to get their hands in the air this season.
UAE Team Emirates came into this season with the strongest one-day squad it has ever had, at least since the days when the license was owned and operated by Lampre. However, it was their GC superstar Tadej Pogačar who delivered the team’s only victory in a classic this season – Liège-Bastogne-Liège this past weekend. No team is ever disappointed to have come away with a monument win, but the lack of victories from the likes of Alexander Kristoff, Matteo Trentin and Marc Hirschi will raise a few questions.
Highlights: Pogacar claims Liege-Bastogne-Liege ahead of Alaphilippe
Another team that clearly has the personnel to win classics but didn’t this spring is Lotto Soudal. Tim Wellens, Philippe Gilbert, John Degenkolb and Caleb Ewan – all are prestigious names, but none quite managed to get across the finish line first. Ewan’s climbing performance on the Poggio in Milan-Sanremo was perhaps the most enjoyable moment of this year’s edition, but entertainment and results are very different things.