Last chapter of our review of the cycling year. They are neither young nor pure sprinters, they are not (or nomore) runners of classics, or favorites for the big tours, or they are all at once. Some have managed their season, others have missed, but we note above all a beautiful group flop of the team UAE, a real team work ..
The former double junior-world champion (2012-2013) approached the 2018 season with only 3 pro wins on his record and a new contract at Barhein-Merida. Suffice to say that the pressure was high on the shoulders of Slovenian, all observers expected it to confirm at the highest level its enormous potential, beyond his stage victory at the Vuelta acquired last year. 2018 was the year of the hatching for Matej, with no less than 7 bouquets for this outstanding finisher who showed that he can even aim higher! We will especially note a second victory on a grand tour with the 10th stage of the Giro, the general rankings of the Tour of Belgium and the Tour of Germany, as well as the semi-classic GP Industria & Artigianato.
Arrived on the continent in 2016 to participate in his first European races and after a year 2017 promising, Carapaz, 25 years old, really hatched in 2018. At the end of April, Richard enters the history of Ecuadorian cycling by becoming the first rider from his country to win in Europe on the Spanish routes of the Tour of Asturias. Less than two weeks later, he won the eighth stage of the Giro in Montevergine under water and grabbed the jersey of best young. A Giro where Movistar decided to bring the flower to the rifle but which saw the new South American nugget, leader by default, mark the spirits and seize a fourth place in the General of all beauty. The equator had found a new champion!The rest of his season was more anecdotal and essentially devoted to helping his leaders on the Vuelta, but it is clear that he will now have to count on the Grands Tours.
Following the chronic inconstancy of Bouhani to perform at a high level, Cédric Vasseur decided to give Laporte new responsibilities within Cofidis at the beginning of this year. Feeling good on the French races of the beginning of the season, among others Paris-Nice, the French is also distinguished on the Classics of spring. Not enough to break three legs to a duck but the choice of Vasseur seems to be the best in view of the Tour de France where Laporte, without shining a thousand lights, wins a few beautiful plots. Although honorable, the rest of his season was less glorious, but at 26, Christophe has, no doubt, still good years ahead of him to still talk powder.
Certainly, Bob Jungels seems to have taken a step back from previous years with regard to general rankings of one or three week rounds. His 11th place finish in the Tour de France is not so negative, but the Luxembourger was mostly unable to show himself in the one-week rounds, with a 5th place finish at the Volto ao Algarve and the Tour of Britain as the best result. But who cares, Bob put his name on the list of the Dean of Classics, realizing a great number that allowed him to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège. What to remind him with his profile climber-rider-who-goes-fast-sprint, great classics, he could grab more others.
In order for the Australian chronoman to really become a rider capable of fighting for the general in a grand tour, he would have to do an internship at Sky for a few seasons. And even if he showed some good things in the Italian mountains, it is hard to see how he could cling to climbers as soon as the slopes exceed 6%. But no matter, in 2018, Dennis was simply the best time trial specialist in the peloton. Of the ten races against time he has competed in, he has won seven, including the national title, the Grand CLM Giro, the two CLM Vuelta and the title of world champion to end the year in style.He even showed that he knows how to do something other than riding against the wind by fetching the pink jersey in an intermediate sprint of the Giro's first online stage after missing the check mark for two seconds in the Jerusalem prologue.
A brand name appliance, a past (recent) in high-level football with several selections in the U16 national team, a 13th place in the Brussels half marathon at 16 years and 9 months, a triple doubled at its first real season as a cyclist (Belgian, European and Junior World Champion on the road and in the time trial), a popularity that has never been seen before for a rider who has not even raced in the U23 class yet , a professional contract at 18 in the best team in the world, ... and most importantly, a label that could rot his career, that of the "New Merckx". Good luck kid.
To say that the career of Tony Martin (33 years) is running out of steam is a euphemism. The caterpillars are rusty and it seems far back when the Panzer crushed the competition on the timed effort. After leaving the Quick-Step for Katusha, Tony had yet launched a new challenge to shine on the Spring Classics that he has always been particularly fond of. Belgian culture requires ... But his ambitions were hardly successful. His only convincing result will be, once again, his title of German time trial champion where his successors are slow to put him in danger. Apart from that, he has hardly hit the headlines and his new start for Lotto-NL could offer him new opportunities to enrich his track record already well provided.
It's been years that we expect the double world junior champion (2006 and 2007) to finally hatch all his talent on races that seemed perfectly match his profile puncher as the Ardennaises. But if in previous years, the flop in the spring was offset by bursts of shrapnel that could suggest that one day, the Tuscan would arrive in 2018, Ulissi has failed to maintain this low hope alive. The only victory achieved in the Tour de Suisse in fact suggests that Diegeo Ulissi has begun the long and cruel march towards oblivion.
The years follow and pass without being noticed for the Lusitanian, who sees his year 2018 as white as 2017. If some good results in the races of the Persian Gulf have again left a doubt floating, he abandons Paris -Nice, crosses the Basque Country without top 10 and concludes its Ardennaises with as firmament an anonymous 19 th place in Huy! His return and the tops 5 in Romandie make him regain confidence but a knee injury pushes him to give up the Tour de Suisse he loves so much and the Tour de France in the wake. Hard ... he will put a Tour of Poland to recover ... The Portuguese will however re-emerge in the second half of the season by signing an encouraging 6th place in Montreal and a 10th place that does not refuse to the championships of the world of Innsbruck. Then nothing on the Italian autumn ... It ends well 2018 with 17 points at fanta-competitions and 32 years on the clock ... attention to the filing of bankruptcy in 2019.
The Norwegian colossus has surely offered the only ray of sunshine to a moribund UAE team by winning on the Champs Elysée during the last stage of the Tour de France, but this great victory is not enough to save a season are all quite negative. Kristoff has won two races in the Middle East at the start of the season and has also won the Frankfort Rund um den Finanzplatz World Tour for the fourth time in a row, but missed the spring classics with only one top-10 in Sanremo. And with his new sponsor not very interested in the Scandinavian races, he could not even increase his loot with his usual victories at the Tour des Fjord or the Artic Race of Norway ... Result, only five successes and a decline that seems unfortunately well started.
In January 2018, Dan Martin might have had to take a look at the Innsbruck world championship course rather than hugging his wife to get her pregnant. Indeed, the Irish will not have many other opportunities to win the Worlds and the course seemed perfectly tailored to his profile. But Danny left the Vuelta rightly to live the birth of his daughters and did not find the form to shine at the end of the season. Too bad, because the first part of the year was not exceptional, with no good result in the rounds of a week or the Ardennaises. After a good Dauphiné, with a stage victory and a fourth final place, he revives his usual bad luck on the Tour losing several minutes in the first week because of falls and other technical problems. His steadfastness will certainly allow him to win a stage and the final red bib, but it will not be enough to save his season as well as that of his team.