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Offseason Capsule: Trek Hopes for Larger Splashes Will Require Luck and Endurance

With my second offseason assessment, I wish to flip to Trek-Segafredo, the American outfit with the Italian core recognized greatest for its efforts within the northern classics, of late. I suppose I’m aspiring to hunt across the muddled center of biking, and primarily based on loosely-sourced funds information from 2021, Trek are proper there, or perhaps a bit low down the record. Of late, one would possibly surprise if they’re getting bang for his or her buck, though if you see the bucks and examine their outcomes to equally located groups on the lads’s aspect, it’s not so unhealthy. Then add within the work of their ladies’s crew, and issues begin wanting fairly optimistic.

Trek-Segafredo appear to be they’ve an extended historical past, however they’re the outgrowth of the short-lived Leopard Schleck/Cancellara self-importance undertaking that then merged with the final vestiges of the Bruyneel post-Radio Shack crew. The Shack then left, and Trek purchased the license, refreshed issues a bit, introduced on the Italian espresso mega-producers Segafredo, and have been working beneath this id ever since 2016.

Luca Guercilena and Kiel Reijnen
Picture by Tim de Waele/Getty Photos

Normal supervisor Luca Guercilena is the frequent thread that traces again to the Leopard days, and his work as a director in biking started with Mapei and the early-aughts Fast Step groups, which explains the outfit’s knack for the Classics. Guercilena was not a professional himself, an exception within the biking administration world, however his success within the sport may be very respectable. So when he introduced final August that he was troubled with lymphoma and wanted to step away from the game for an indefinite time, the game responded with an outpouring of affection and help. There have been no latest updates within the media, that I can discover, so for now we simply hope he’s on the highway to restoration.

I wouldn’t overreact and name this a brand new period, nevertheless; the GM function will not be precisely the micromanager for each side of racing, and Trek will proceed to depend on a big, skilled workers from round Europe, together with Kim Andersen, who has been with the undertaking for the reason that starting and was initially the highest man earlier than buying and selling locations with Guercilena when Group Schleck (aka Flavio Becca) bought the license. So by way of management, I’d say that Trek are persevering with on their path, counting on continued regular challenges within the classics and hoping for some greater breakthroughs within the mountains… and if the lads don’t ship, they’re a safer wager to hit the heights on the ladies’s aspect.

118th Paris-Roubaix 2021 - Men’s Eilte

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What We Thought and Obtained Final 12 months

Like I mentioned with Bora, we didn’t do capsules final yr, however in all probability would have puzzled the place the stage race wins have been going to come back from. We additionally would have put some severe expectations on the Classics crew, which continued to characteristic perennial favorites Mads Pedersen and Jasper Stuyven together with an affordable supporting forged. We would have made a snarky comment about their Tour de France hopes leaping ship with Richie Porte’s departure, as if his third total inserting in 2020 have been one thing to financial institution on from yr to yr (it isn’t).

We obtained… about what you may fairly count on? In the event you assume all Monuments are created equally, as they most definitely don’t in Stuyven’s native Belgium, then you can hail his breakthrough win at Milano-Sanremo because the redeeming win that’s barely eluded him during the last six years. Pedersen’s win at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne added to the sense that this was a powerful classics season, and Stuyven had to enter a deep, darkish tunnel of ache to scratch out a best-ever fourth in De Ronde. From there, the wins fizzled out a bit, with one big exception — No, not Vincenzo Nibali’s win on the Giro di Sicilia, the place one wonders who would have the temerity to assault him — no, it was on the Tour de France, the place Bauke Mollema continued to increase his profession legacy nicely previous expectations with a solo victory on stage 14, his first breakthrough at Le Tour since 2017. The ladies lifted the group’s spirits all yr, primarily via Elisa Longo Borghini and Elizabeth Deignan, who served up book-end wins on the Trofeo Binda and Paris-Roubaix with loads of different high ends in between.

In order that’s what life can seem like within the muddled center, even on the lower-budgeted finish of issues. Pirelli are approaching board for 2022 as a significant sponsor, and with the lack of Nibali plus few costly signings for this yr, they might be in place to strike it large within the subsequent switch market. However they’ve retained their cornerstones and are relying on guys trending upward for a giant yr in 2022.

1st Paris-Roubaix 2021 - Women’s Elite

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FSA DS Rating

Trek have been exterior the highest 10 on the Podium Cafe rankings and ninth total on the extra inclusive CQRanking, which means they have been a bit higher in races or race placings we don’t hassle scoring. [Their women’s team were a clear second overall in both compilations.]

Stuyven ranked nineteenth total, tops for TFS on the lads’s aspect. Longo Borghini was third for the women.

Observe: from this level ahead, I’m simply specializing in the lads’s crew. I point out the ladies’s squad as a part of the organizational overview, since Trek have prioritized their ladies’s racing and achieved good success, which I’m positive is a significant level of satisfaction for everybody there. However persevering with to drill down on this submit, it’s loads cleaner to take a look at the lads’s squad, significantly since my experience on the ladies’s aspect is… not nice.

112th Milano-Sanremo 2021

Picture by Tim de Waele/Getty Photos

Prime Three Highlights

  1. Stuyven wins Milano Sanremo. Generally you don’t get the Monument you need, however somewhat the Monument you deserve?
  2. Mollema takes Tour stage. That was their aim from the beginning, phases, and so they chased it day after day, lastly breaking via after two weeks.
  3. Nibali leaves Trek in fashion at Sicilia Tour. I may have gone with extra of an oncoming story in Quinn Simmons taking the Tour de Wallonie, however Nibali is an all-time biking star and his win on residence soil is likely to be certainly one of his final. So let’s simply nod our caps to the Shark yet one more time.

104th Giro d’Italia 2021 - Stage 16

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Backside Three Lowlights

  1. Pedersen’s misplaced season. I suppose he crashed loads. Like all yr. Hopefully it simply makes him stronger.
  2. The demise of the Giro squad. It began with Nibali’s coaching crash in April which barely left him time to prepare for the Giro d’Italia, not to mention strive for the win. Then Giulio Ciccone obtained scorching and located himself in precise competition, solely to begin hitting the deck himself and going residence after stage 18. The malocchio was in full impact final spring.
  3. Reaching a bit, however I’ll say Stuyven’s worlds marketing campaign. Not that a lot was anticipated, however the Belgian nationwide crew constructed itself across the fortunes of Wout Van Aert, who wasn’t on kind that day, leaving one to surprise what may need been had they targeted extra on the probabilities of Leuven native Stuyven, who ended up fourth, a/okay/a 3rd within the bunch end behind Alaphilippe.

94th UCI Road World Championships 2021 - Men U23 Road Race

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Comings and Goings for 2022

Departures: Vincenzo and Antonio Nibali, Ryan Mullen, Niklas Eg. Just a few retirements.

Incoming: A lot of regular professionals like Dario Cataldo, Tony Gallopin, Simon Pellaud, Markus Hoelgaard, and Antwan Tolhoek. As for youthful riders, there are U23 world champ Filippo Baroncini, Daan Hoole and Asbjorn Hellemose, all high skills (and simply perhaps belying my earlier remark about not making a giant switch splash for 2022).

So What Occurs Subsequent?

Issues needs to be in a very good place for 2022, though maybe solely marginally higher than final yr, and counting on affordable damage luck to even match their 2021 output, not to mention exceed it. The ceiling is rising with the younger expertise approaching board, however they won’t contribute a lot immediately.

Pedersen and Stuyven stay targeted on the Classics and dealing in tandem to place a dent within the appreciable armor of the Van Aert-van der Poel duo which can be atop everybody’s record of favorites. It’s a good struggle now, with the 2 ‘crossers having the pedigree to dominate however Pedersen, the previous world champion and runner up in Flanders, plus the perfect-for-P-R Stuyven, able to pounce. Perhaps one of many children — Hoole or Simmons or Jakob Egholm — add some additional punch to their cobbles squad. Simmons struggled in his first go-round, as one does at age 20 in races that favor veteran hardmen, however his breakthrough in Wallonia would possibly push his confidence to the following stage. Massive issues are anticipated of Hoole, particularly within the time trials, however his dimension makes him a valued asset in Paris-Roubaix. Egholm is a proficient Dane whose first two years have been scrambled by the pandemic, so we shouldn’t rush to guage his middling outcomes. They received’t fairly be on Fast Step’s stage by way of depth, however Trek will probably be a high 5 squad in Flanders this spring.

The identical can’t be mentioned for his or her grand tour ambitions, as former winner Nibali follows former third-place Porte as ex-Trekkers. That leaves solely Mollema and Cataldo as recognized entities, each on the down slope of their careers. The hope although is that Ciccone is able to take the following large step, with one full and two truncated Giri in his legs, plus the 2019 Tour the place he wore yellow for 3 days. The Abruzzese matched Giro winner Bernal on residence soil on the stage to Rocca di Cambio, climbing into fourth total, earlier than attempting for better glory, attacking two phases later however failing to make it stick, steadily conceding extra time till crashes put him out of the race. It’s arduous to take a look at that and pronounce him able to make a giant splash this yr in his Giro-Tour program, but when the whole lot comes collectively and the Giro isn’t dominated by the large skills within the sport, he may seize a podium there, then go stage-hunting with Mollema and Pedersen within the Tour (which, Pedersen is fast to notice, begins in Copenhagen).

81st Skoda-Tour De Luxembourg 2021 - Stage 4

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After that, a victory can be indicators of improvement from their many younger riders. Along with the incoming skills, there may be Antonio Tiberi, a climber and time triallist within the Nibali mould if not in something near his accomplishments, a given on the younger age of 20 years. There may be Mattias Skjelmose, one other Dane, solely 21 and having flashed his appreciable expertise by taking sixth total on the UAE Tour and fifteenth within the Tour de Romandie — two huge outcomes at that stage of his improvement. Marc Brustenga, one other incoming rider, is a notable classics expertise from Catalunya. Juan Pedro Lopez, solely 24, has a thirteenth place on the Vuelta and appears just like the sort of regular rider who can construct towards some precious placings.

Total, the crew is deep in veteran expertise from the center vary of the game, however quick on top-flight winners after Pedersen and Stuyven, one thing they hope the brand new children can flip round. Which will occur, however big leaps from Skjelmose, Baroncini, Hellemose or Tiberi in 2022 is a bit an excessive amount of to count on. Their targets for 2022 undoubtedly embody, in no order, good well being for Guercilena, large seasons from their classics leaders, and regular enchancment within the youthful guys. That might have them considering greater in 2023.

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