Teams & Riders EF Pro Cycling

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Huge result for Carthy! And a great season for the team. 6 GT stage wins (as many as in 2015-2019 combined) and 17 wins overall in a shortened season in which they weren't even racing outside of WT after early March. They were a factor in pretty much every major race (either high placings or at least having a few riders in a final selection and narrowly missing a good result, like in Flanders). This is very impressive with reportedly 2nd lowest budget in WT. Why can't Vaughters have a decent budget to work with for one...
As a fan of the team I gotta say I'm pretty happy with how the season went as well, especially since half of the time I was worrying if they would still be around next year. Sad they're losing Woods and Vanmarcke and especially Martinez but let's hope they can surprise again next year and be so visible (not only jersey-wise) in so many races, even with a somewhat reduced roster (how many riders will they even have? It felt like there were only announcements of riders leaving and hardly any signing on...).

On a related note, EF and Cannondale will launch teams at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Tribal Colleges and Universities in the US (funding three new cycling programmes for three years, starting in 2021) (Link).
 
What I find the most impressive is how much depth they've been able to achieve on such a low budget. Look how many different riders did something noticeable in big races this year:
  • Uran: Top10 GT
  • Carthy: GT podium and a stage win
  • Woods: GT stage win, strong TIrreno
  • Cort; GT stage win
  • Caicedo: GT stage win
  • Guerreiro: GT stage win and KOM jersey
  • Martinez: Dauphine GC win + GT stage win
  • Higuita: top3 Paris-Nice
  • Bettiol: top5 in some big classics like GW and SB
  • Bissegger: probably top6 in GC in BinckBank Tour if not for the crash near the finish of the last stage
  • Vanmarcke: no luck for results but was visible and tried to attack for 3rd in RVV near the finish for example
And all that in a shortened season with fewer opportunities.
I'm happy that they don't rely on 1 or 2 riders like a lot of smaller teams.

Great to see Valgren finally confirmed at EF. According to cyclingnews, he was sought after by teams like Ineos and ISN, so it looks gives me hope the team's financial situation is solved if they were able to sign such a sought after rider.
What I would like to see the most af this point is the signing of a good climber as they've lost a lot of power in that department and they need more riders to support Uran, Carthy and Higuita.
 
Tejay to lead the Giro then. :p

EF are a little short of GT options and it looks like they might end up with an underwhelming team for at least one GT unless they make a surprisignly big signing for next year. :(
I don’t think it’s a negative for a team at EF’s leve in the sport to have one grand tour where they make a clear goal of stage hunting rather than GC. Though if we assume they have a bigger fan base in the US & Canada than most Pro Tour teams, GC gets added emphasis? Not sure about that though.
 
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I don’t think it’s a negative for a team at EF’s leve in the sport to have one grand tour where they make a clear goal of stage hunting rather than GC. Though if we assume they have a bigger fan base in the US & Canada than most Pro Tour teams, GC gets added emphasis? Not sure about that though.
For stage hunting to be a viable strategy rather than "we don't have anyone good enough for GC so we tell people we will traget stage victories because a fluke breakaway is the only way we can get results in this race" approach, you also need good riders with the right skillset.

Barring a fluke, I can only see 3 riders in EF's roster that can realistically win a proper mountain GT stage (Uran, Higuita, Carthy), 1 (or 2) guys that can win a reduced bunch sprint (Cort and possibly Higuita if it's really selective), 1 guy that can win an explosive stage finish (the same mentioned earlier Higuita) and 0 guys that can win a flat stage sprint.
Guys like Valgren and Guerreiro can be a threat from a breakaway in mixed terrain, but:
  • with climbing domestiques shortage, I would expect these 2 guys to be used wherever the GC leaders need them
  • they're good riders but when they're the best you have to offer for a GT, then it's not a very good team, unfortunately, and that's the point. In 2020, EF had enough talent to cover all 3 GTs, I'm afraid it might be a problem for 2021. Either they'll send all their best riders to TdF and have a meh team in the Giro, or send someone good to the Giro but that will cause TdF shortages and a meh TdF support team.
The team really needs someone like Powless to step up next year, or sign someone like Rob Power and hope he does well.
 
For stage hunting to be a viable strategy rather than "we don't have anyone good enough for GC so we tell people we will traget stage victories because a fluke breakaway is the only way we can get results in this race" approach, you also need good riders with the right skillset.

Barring a fluke, I can only see 3 riders in EF's roster that can realistically win a proper mountain GT stage (Uran, Higuita, Carthy), 1 (or 2) guys that can win a reduced bunch sprint (Cort and possibly Higuita if it's really selective), 1 guy that can win an explosive stage finish (the same mentioned earlier Higuita) and 0 guys that can win a flat stage sprint.
Guys like Valgren and Guerreiro can be a threat from a breakaway in mixed terrain, but:
  • with climbing domestiques shortage, I would expect these 2 guys to be used wherever the GC leaders need them
  • they're good riders but when they're the best you have to offer for a GT, then it's not a very good team, unfortunately, and that's the point. In 2020, EF had enough talent to cover all 3 GTs, I'm afraid it might be a problem for 2021. Either they'll send all their best riders to TdF and have a meh team in the Giro, or send someone good to the Giro but that will cause TdF shortages and a meh TdF support team.
The team really needs someone like Powless to step up next year, or sign someone like Rob Power and hope he does well.
Good points. Have they lost Bettiol? He would be the best best for a classics-type stage or medium mtn. Stage win. But he’s probably not available for the Giro given his spring classics calendar.
 
For stage hunting to be a viable strategy rather than "we don't have anyone good enough for GC so we tell people we will traget stage victories because a fluke breakaway is the only way we can get results in this race" approach, you also need good riders with the right skillset.

Barring a fluke, I can only see 3 riders in EF's roster that can realistically win a proper mountain GT stage (Uran, Higuita, Carthy), 1 (or 2) guys that can win a reduced bunch sprint (Cort and possibly Higuita if it's really selective), 1 guy that can win an explosive stage finish (the same mentioned earlier Higuita) and 0 guys that can win a flat stage sprint.
Guys like Valgren and Guerreiro can be a threat from a breakaway in mixed terrain, but:
  • with climbing domestiques shortage, I would expect these 2 guys to be used wherever the GC leaders need them
  • they're good riders but when they're the best you have to offer for a GT, then it's not a very good team, unfortunately, and that's the point. In 2020, EF had enough talent to cover all 3 GTs, I'm afraid it might be a problem for 2021. Either they'll send all their best riders to TdF and have a meh team in the Giro, or send someone good to the Giro but that will cause TdF shortages and a meh TdF support team.
The team really needs someone like Powless to step up next year, or sign someone like Rob Power and hope he does well.
Almost by definition, “stage hunting” implies that the team won’t be banking on contesting bunch sprint stages, but looking for breakaway options and trying to finish off chances on medium-difficulty terrains. They won 6 stages across all 3 GTs this year and they’re keeping 3 or 4 of those riders (is Caicedo staying?), plus the guy who finished top 10 in the Tour, so they seem to know their own personnel, plus the classics specialist (Valgren) they’ve just added.

Assuming 2021 is a more “normal” season, the need to “cover” 3 GTs won’t be as drastic next year. Maybe they’ll be worse than this year, it maybe they’ll be better. I think after the year they’ve just had, JV and his crew deserve a bit of faith.
 
Losing Martinez is a real blow. He looked like either a future GT contender or a real stage hunter threat for years to come. I have no idea how he'll fit into Ineos, though.

It's really a shame that Vaughters (who I know can be polarizing) can't land a big fish sponsor in the US. Thanks, Lance! (and another parenthetical, JV was also up to clinic shenanigans, of course...).
 
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Good points. Have they lost Bettiol? He would be the best best for a classics-type stage or medium mtn. Stage win. But he’s probably not available for the Giro given his spring classics calendar.
Bettiol is staying but he has been around for a while and didn't really show a lot of potential as a stage hunter.

Almost by definition, “stage hunting” implies that the team won’t be banking on contesting bunch sprint stages, but looking for breakaway options and trying to finish off chances on medium-difficulty terrains.
To me, "stage hunting" seems like just trying to win stages, sometimes at the cost of a potential GC bid, for which one of the best options is to bring a very good sprinter to the race. Either way pointing out lack of real sprinters was to reinforce my point about them having few options. It's a different story to bring a sprinter and a sprint train instead a bunch of capable climbers, and a different story to bring none of these.

They won 6 stages across all 3 GTs this year and they’re keeping 3 or 4 of those riders (is Caicedo staying?), plus the guy who finished top 10 in the Tour, so they seem to know their own personnel, plus the classics specialist (Valgren) they’ve just added.
Caicedo was IMO a bit of a fluke, he has been around in WT for 2 years and I've only seen him climbing around top30 level in a WT mountain stage 2 or 3 times. Not sure if he would have won that stage if the Giro was in the normal place in the calendar with a stronger field. And I wouldn't count on him as a regular winner.
They've lost Martinez who has been a great stage hunter and a potential GC option and they've lost Woods who could win both mountain stages and explosive finishes. They've also lost Kangert who was probably more capable to win a mountain stage than any of the 2021 EF riders who is not named Uran, Carthy or Higuita and they've lost their most promising sprinter. The only good rider they've brought instead is Valgren who has never won a stage in any stage race outside of Denmark.
That's hell of a potential loss in terms of stage races. I would say that at least like 33% if not close to 50%. And they don't really have a lot of young riders ready to step up in 2021. Bissegger is perhaps the most promising one but I don't know how much he can do in GTs (or if he's even going to ride one in 2021 already), I wouldn't count on him very much, and of course, he can't be a replacement for Martinez and Woods as he is a completely different type of rider.

Assuming 2021 is a more “normal” season, the need to “cover” 3 GTs won’t be as drastic next year. Maybe they’ll be worse than this year, it maybe they’ll be better. I think after the year they’ve just had, JV and his crew deserve a bit of faith.
It won't be that much of a difference. You need 2 good GT teams, one for the Giro and one for the Tour. It was like that in 2019, 2020 and will be like that in 2021. For the Vuelta you can take riders who did either Giro or Tour. It was a bit different in 2020 as Giro-Vuelta route was impossible but it's the Giro-Tour combination I'm concerned about for 2021, not Vuelta.
I always give JV and his team bit of faith but this is the 2017->2018 situation all over again. A lot of losses during the transfer period due to uncertain sponsorship situation that is going to result in fewer good results in the following year. There's little doubt about it. 2018 saw only 6 wins for EF. As I mentioned earlier, there are not a lot of young guys with the right skillset ready to step up so it's going to be a weaker year 99% sure. We can only hope Vaughters can rebuild the team's potential in 2021->2022 transfer window or shock us with some big signings in the following days but the second one is unlikely.
 
Both Bissegger and Rutsch are big talents with big engines. Especially in the classics I wouldn't be surprised to see them having a good campaign. Rutsch could've had a big result already if he'd avoided the rookie mistake at Omloop. They will both almost certainly do a GT next year, and it wouldn't be a surprise in the slightest if they would be able to fight for stages at the Giro or Vuelta.
With Vanmarcke gone and Valgren not as consistent a performer in the classics, it should open up possibilities for those young riders to show themselves.
 
Both Bissegger and Rutsch are big talents with big engines. Especially in the classics I wouldn't be surprised to see them having a good campaign. Rutsch could've had a big result already if he'd avoided the rookie mistake at Omloop. They will both almost certainly do a GT next year, and it wouldn't be a surprise in the slightest if they would be able to fight for stages at the Giro or Vuelta.
With Vanmarcke gone and Valgren not as consistent a performer in the classics, it should open up possibilities for those young riders to show themselves.
Yeah, classics prospects look good for 2021, it's the stage races I'm disappointed about.

+ We're likely to see additions to EF.
I don't really see many game-changing riders still on the market, unless they poach one of those big names still unconfirmed from Ineos, which would be a big surprise.
 
They’ve rarely picked up “game changers” before, but they’ve got good results out of what they have. Some hit the mark, some fall short. Some years go well, others less. Vanmarcke wasn’t a huge success results-wise, but he played a big role in Bettiol’s Flanders win. Everyone thought Uran was a shot in the dark, but he got a Tour podium and stage win. Valgren could go either way; he could be a Woods, he could be a Rolland.
 
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They’ve rarely picked up “game changers” before
That statement is absurd, if they hadn't picked up "game changers" they wouldn't have had any results! Riders like Carthy, Martinez and Bettiol were game changers to no surprise to me, I expected them to boost the team's capabilities at the point of time they were signed. I see few riders of that calibre left on the market. Not of what they are now but what they were at the time of signing with the team (in case of Bettiol I mean 2018 rather than 2014, obviously :p).

I don't necessarily consider "game changers" as big names who have had big results before.

But even underdogs with room for development or young riders ready to make a big a step forward for 2021 already- even those kind of riders are scarce on the market.

I have been looking at list of riders without contract and if we assume that riders like Kwiatkowski, Lopez, Ganna and Hart are unrealistic targets and exclude riders who have already been rumoured to have a contract, like Izagirre brothers, there are only really 2 riders left I would be intrigued about: Nizzolo and Power. Yes, I have made a quick look outside of WT too. If I missed someone and you see some interesting riders available- let me now- I will be happy to read.

There might be a talented rider with potential to do well in 2021 already out there lurking in the reality with a lot of the races cancelled in 2020 not allowing him to show his true potential but what are the odds that EF will get one? What are the odds that EF will get more than one?! They've lost 5 important riders and brought 1 big replacement, even one more good rider won't put them at even. I don't see why what I'm saying would be controversial. They had already been in that situation before in 2017-2018 and 2020-2021 is a copy of that. I'm not saying they will be useless in 2021, just that they most likely won't have as skilled roster as in 2020 and that's a disappointment considering the situation they were in early this year with their most talented riders like Carthy, Higuita and Martinez with contracts beyond 2020, Uran's big contract signed after TdF podium coming to an end relieving more funds for salary budget and a positive momentum with sporting achievements ever improving since 2018. Obviously all of that means little when you can't compete for the most promising riders available in July and August due to sponsorship insecurities and you even sell out your most talented riders with valid contracts and that's the unfortunate reality of 2020 for EF.
 
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For stage hunting to be a viable strategy rather than "we don't have anyone good enough for GC so we tell people we will traget stage victories because a fluke breakaway is the only way we can get results in this race" approach, you also need good riders with the right skillset.

Barring a fluke, I can only see 3 riders in EF's roster that can realistically win a proper mountain GT stage (Uran, Higuita, Carthy), 1 (or 2) guys that can win a reduced bunch sprint (Cort and possibly Higuita if it's really selective), 1 guy that can win an explosive stage finish (the same mentioned earlier Higuita) and 0 guys that can win a flat stage sprint.
Guys like Valgren and Guerreiro can be a threat from a breakaway in mixed terrain, but:
  • with climbing domestiques shortage, I would expect these 2 guys to be used wherever the GC leaders need them
  • they're good riders but when they're the best you have to offer for a GT, then it's not a very good team, unfortunately, and that's the point. In 2020, EF had enough talent to cover all 3 GTs, I'm afraid it might be a problem for 2021. Either they'll send all their best riders to TdF and have a meh team in the Giro, or send someone good to the Giro but that will cause TdF shortages and a meh TdF support team.
The team really needs someone like Powless to step up next year, or sign someone like Rob Power and hope he does well.
Powless is a quick learner and he can sprint if in the mix. He may end up being the Sepp Kuss to Carthy's ambitions, too. How durable is Carthy?
 
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Losing Martinez is a real blow. He looked like either a future GT contender or a real stage hunter threat for years to come. I have no idea how he'll fit into Ineos, though.

It's really a shame that Vaughters (who I know can be polarizing) can't land a big fish sponsor in the US. Thanks, Lance! (and another parenthetical, JV was also up to clinic shenanigans, of course...).
I have a feeling Martinez will be the next Kwiatkowski for the foreseeable GT season unless Carapaz or Bernal are not firing well. He'll get paid well and spend some good years toiling for others unless they fall apart.
 

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