The Aqua Blue Sport thread

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Dec 30, 2015
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on his defense, i think there are too many WT teams, that they should not be imposed to do all WT calendar, and there should be more invitees in the peloton which was reduced this season. but this is an off-topic subject
 
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Libertine Seguros said:
Victims of timing, with the upsurge again in Spanish ProConti teams and with so few WT teams from Spain and Italy, the national flavour of the home Tour is heavily eroded. It is not surprising that Spanish ProConti teams are preferred for the Vuelta (the one other team is a team whose sponsor is a major sponsor of the Vuelta also) and Italian ones for the Giro, surely - especially given one of those Spanish wildcard teams functions as a de facto home team for a very passionate cycling region which is hosting an important mountain stage in the race. I can only really make a case for ABS vs. Burgos-BH, as I'm not sure which of their riders is expected to add the same kind of audience investment as some of the prospects on the Euskadi team. The stage win for Denifl last year was spectacular, definitely, and was the team's defining contribution, but the fan connection problem that comes from their over-reliance on established journeymen that led to the debate over the value of the wildcard last year has not changed so with two Spanish teams stepping up to the ProConti level and with two wildcards almost certain with the long-established Caja Rural wildcard and Cofidis' close relationship with Unipublic, they and Manzana were always going to be the most likely wildcard teams from 2017 to miss out going forward.
The issue is that performance has no relationship to invites in the current set up. There’s no objective qualification system for PCT teams and there probably won’t ever be, but there’s no evidence whatsoever that performances in big races - including in the race that any given invite is for - play any role in the subjective decision making of race organizers. Two things matter this year - whether a team is from the organiser’s country and whether a team pays the organisers a load of money. The only wild card across the three GTs that doesn’t obviously tick one or both of those boxes is Wanty (and I wouldn’t be entirely sure about them not ticking the latter box).

It’s not only the GTs either. The same home teams or pay to play teams get almost all of the invites to the WT week long races too. That’s the real calendar killer for any team not from Spain/France etc. Any team should be able to survive missing out on a GT - there can only be 11 invited after all. But when missing out on a GT means missing out on almost any prominent stage race that’s another problem entirely.

The point about “established journeymen” is total nonsense, by the way. It reflects only this forum’s prejudices that Mediterranean journeymen are more interesting than Northern European ones. Every PCT team is mostly made up of journeymen and aquablue’s assortment of them is higher quality than most other PCT teams. The main difference between them and the likes of Burgos is that their riders all are pro quality while many of those on Burgos and some other teams with wildcards are basically Conti riders who were never good enough for a contract and aren’t particularly young. For that matter Aquablue signed two of the most highly touted espoirs this year. Only Androni has higher profile first year neopros in the whole division. The four invitees to the Vuelta don’t have a single first year pro between them with the espoir record of either Dunbar or Pedersen.

There’s an argument to be made that Unipublic has a responsibility to Spanish cycling and that means that they have to invite all three Spanish teams. That’s reasonable enough. But confusing that argument with one about quality is horse excrement. None of those three teams (including this year’s incarnation of Caja Rural) would have a hope in hell of an invite were they not Spanish and everyone knows it.
 
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PeterB said:
FilipeFD said:
Just another kicking for team @AquaBlueSport . It’s confirmed, no Grand Tour.



https://twitter.com/RickDelaneyABS/status/983669891910729728
Someone please explain how it works in the sport of cycling to this guy. His team, his project, but if he gets invitation at the expense of another team and another project, that is okay? I am a fan of this team but the sooner they understand the reality the better.
I think he does understand the reality now. The reality is that invites go to teams from the organisers country and pay to play teams and performance has nothing much to do with it. And therefore his team is screwed unless he waves a pile of cash at a race organisation or registers his squad in Zaragoza. He probably misunderstood the reality previously as the absence of a full quota of Spanish teams made it appear that there were other routes into races.

Now that he knows the score he’s aggrieved that he’s paying the running costs of a top third of the PCT division pro team that has little prospect of a calendar notably better than a Conti squad. And that’s unlikely to change next year. So of course he’s angry. Why wouldn’t he be?
 
Jun 30, 2014
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Yes, the guy's a bit of a whiner.
There's also a bit of bad luck involved with two Spanish teams going PCT the same year and I feel for them when it comes to California, it would have been a good race for them, a lot of media exposure for an anglophone team and a field that's within their reach.
They had good results last year and winning a rather big MTF usually means that you'll get another shot at the same gt.
I have nothing against the riders, Warbasse is a nice guy, he almost missed the start of stage 3 of the Giro del Trentino because he was talking with me and left a bidon behind.
 
Apparently he didn't understand before that the "home" teams get priority in invites. The Vuelta, Tour and Giro are going to prioritize the home teams over anyone else. For la Vuelta the fact that there are now 3 Spanish Pro Conti teams plus the one French Pro Conti team that's sponsor is a big sponsor of not just la Vuelta but some of the other Spanish races are going to get the 4 invites they have. It just happens this year that Spain had 2 teams move from Conti to Pro Conti and the US had 3 teams jump from Conti to Pro Conti. The US teams did that to get the invite to the Tour of Cali while at least Euskadi make the jump not just for the Vuelta invite, but also invites to several other Spanish WT races and most specifically their home race Tour of Basque Country.
 
Just checked as I was curious and it seems they will do these races in the next months:
WT: Amstel, Suisse
HC: Brabantse Pijl, Tours of: Croatia, Norway, Fjords, Austria, Denmark

They already rode Evans' race, Dwars, Dubai and Oman and plenty of Belgian and other 1.HC races. So it's not entirely that they have nowhere to ride. Of course a grand tour is something special but they seem to have quite normal calendar for a pro-conti team.
 
Last year a team like Androni (they had Bernal at their disposal, and arrived 3rd in UCI Europe Team classification) did 2 WT races: Milan-Sanremo and Tirreno-Adriatico, this is the professionals' world. If no one outside of italy gave any sort of Wildcard to Savio when he had Bernal what does Aqua Blue expect to achieve with the results they have this season?
If you have ties with the organizers you get the WT races, otherwise you've to race outside the WT. The big question is: does the professional continental category has still a reason to exist? With the current system they can't do anything, the WT is a closed system: Cannondale did not win a WT for 2 years but their presence at every WT race isn't threatened. Ok, the biggest French Pro Conti have all what they want (racing the ASO races) but the others? Pozzato and Chavanel left home for the Tour of Flanders like if the already retired after a top 10 last year, only an example.
 
For Caja Rural (using them as they've been Pro Conti for a couple of years). They get invites to all the Spanish WT races, along with the entire Spanish calendar (as will the two new Spanish pro conti teams). Then they do get the occasional invite to other WT races, usually at least one of the Middle East races, sometimes one of the Italian races (although not the Giro). Then several Continental level races in other parts of Europe and have gotten invites to Utah or Colorado in the US. In this sense it helps when there aren't many pro conti teams in the country you are in AND that same country has a nice racing calendar.
 
Jun 30, 2014
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EroicaStradeBianche said:
Last year a team like Androni (they had Bernal at their disposal, and arrived 3rd in UCI Europe Team classification) did 2 WT races: Milan-Sanremo and Tirreno-Adriatico, this is the professionals' world. If no one outside of italy gave any sort of Wildcard to Savio when he had Bernal what does Aqua Blue expect to achieve with the results they have this season?
If you have ties with the organizers you get the WT races, otherwise you've to race outside the WT. The big question is: does the professional continental category has still a reason to exist? With the current system they can't do anything, the WT is a closed system: Cannondale did not win a WT for 2 years but their presence at every WT race isn't threatened. Ok, the biggest French Pro Conti have all what they want (racing the ASO races) but the others? Pozzato and Chavanel left home for the Ronde van Vlaanderen like if the already retired after a top 10 last year, only an example.
With Androni it' not that simple, they were really foussed on winning the Coppa Italia and geting a sure Giro Wildcard by being the best PCT team on the Italian scene, so they didn't want to race man races that woul interfere with the Italian racing calender, Tour de Suisse would hve mad sense, but many other races wouldn't fit well with their scedule/priorities.
 
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Zinoviev Letter said:
The issue is that performance has no relationship to invites in the current set up. There’s no objective qualification system for PCT teams and there probably won’t ever be, but there’s no evidence whatsoever that performances in big races - including in the race that any given invite is for - play any role in the subjective decision making of race organizers. Two things matter this year - whether a team is from the organiser’s country and whether a team pays the organisers a load of money. The only wild card across the three GTs that doesn’t obviously tick one or both of those boxes is Wanty (and I wouldn’t be entirely sure about them not ticking the latter box).

It’s not only the GTs either. The same home teams or pay to play teams get almost all of the invites to the WT week long races too. That’s the real calendar killer for any team not from Spain/France etc. Any team should be able to survive missing out on a GT - there can only be 11 invited after all. But when missing out on a GT means missing out on almost any prominent stage race that’s another problem entirely.

The point about “established journeymen” is total nonsense, by the way. It reflects only this forum’s prejudices that Mediterranean journeymen are more interesting than Northern European ones. Every PCT team is mostly made up of journeymen and aquablue’s assortment of them is higher quality than most other PCT teams. The main difference between them and the likes of Burgos is that their riders all are pro quality while many of those on Burgos and some other teams with wildcards are basically Conti riders who were never good enough for a contract and aren’t particularly young. For that matter Aquablue signed two of the most highly touted espoirs this year. Only Androni has higher profile first year neopros in the whole division. The four invitees to the Vuelta don’t have a single first year pro between them with the espoir record of either Dunbar or Pedersen.

There’s an argument to be made that Unipublic has a responsibility to Spanish cycling and that means that they have to invite all three Spanish teams. That’s reasonable enough. But confusing that argument with one about quality is horse excrement. None of those three teams (including this year’s incarnation of Caja Rural) would have a hope in hell of an invite were they not Spanish and everyone knows it.
Of course performance has no relationship to the invites setup. The wildcards are the only area of freedom that the race organizers have to affect who rides their race, and they have more factors in play than quality of the team. Last year Aqua Blue got an invite because there were not many home teams, this year they don't as the number of home teams has increased. It is to be expected. Would I have been disappointed if they got in instead of Burgos? No, not really. The race doesn't go through Burgos province, the team has less quality on the roster and Aqua Blue won a stage last year. But I would have been shocked had they had an invite and any of the other three not been invited. Cofidis because of the sponsorship deal, Caja Rural because they've proven an established and long-running part of the national péloton through the times of hardship, and Euskadi-Murias because they've got an interesting team with some good young prospects, passionate fans and the race passes through their home area.

And as for missing out on every established stage race, come on, even fricking Funvic, Verva-ActiveJet and pre-Evans BMC got to do some WT stage races. That incarnation of BMC was absolute dreck, even in most sympathetic renderings not better than Burgos-BH, and they did the Dauphiné so there isn't even the excuse of the shockingly poor state of the Spanish ProConti scene that accounted for the first two.

And here's the thing though - you argue that the 'journeyman' argument is prejudice and bias, and in many ways that's right, but there's a crucial difference between the Grand Tours. The Tour de France does not have to do any job in marketing itself to attract the audience, its value is inherent in its international profile. We all know that. The Giro and the Vuelta do not have the automatic global currency that the Tour has, and therefore the home audience is more crucial to them. Not only that, but the distinctively Spanish or distinctively Italian flavour of those races become key differentiating factors for those races, that give them their identity and make them stand out as different to the Tour. And that can be for better or worse for the top-down quality of the race, sure, but it's an almost inescapable conclusion that Unipublic's key consideration is simply that more people who are going to be lining the roadside in Spain and in Italy care about Caja Rural or Androni Giocattoli than about Aqua Blue Sport, and that's been the decisive factor. The only real 'hook' that the Vuelta's audience has with Aqua Blue is Denifl's win last year, in that respect there are a lot of ProConti teams that they lag behind, so while performance-wise they may be much of a muchness (it's hard to take the CQ ranking at this point as obviously few stage races and many classics having been the order of the day thus far, the Belgian Classics squads dominate the ProConti rankings), they do not have the same attraction to the local, small-scale fans and sponsors, and not offer sufficient international intrigue to compensate that in the eyes of Unipublic. The other thing is, with them being Spanish, Unipublic can absolutely guarantee in giving three of the four wildcard teams their invite, that the Vuelta instantly becomes the absolute central focus of their season.

And Vacansoleil got snubbed big time in 2010 after a much more successful Grand Tour debut than Aqua Blue's. Sure, it sucks when it happens to you, but there has also been much criticism of race organizers (especially RCS) in recent years for races feeling like they lose some of their identity to the local crowds in snubbing the local teams. That hasn't been an option for Unipublic of late with a paucity of Spanish teams, but really there are too many fixed invites from the WT that leads to race organisers being pretty highly restricted in who they are able to choose for themselves. Sure Delaney's put a lot of work in, but he surely can't be arguing that the Euskadi guys didn't, building the team from the ground up over a period of years, or the Caja Rural guys didn't, developing young riders, keeping the team afloat and at least moderately competitive year after year despite annually being absolutely gutted of their best talents.

Now, the closing of shops at the PC level is a different discussion and one that we had last year when disputing the ABS wildcard - the way the UCI trying to alter the system so it couldn't be gamed by teams like Cervélo and BMC, signing stars that guaranteed they'd get any invite they want whilst simultaneously not being subject to the restrictions of the WT has gutted the ProConti level, plus the pricing-up at the WT level thanks to big money teams like Sky and latter day BMC has meant that you've got riders like Leopold König stepping from being team leaders at the PC level to fifth in line at the WT level but that still being able to be justified based on calendar and salary. History has shown that to progress at that level your best options are to either splash the cash on a big star to guarantee those invites, or work your tail off filling your boots at lower exposure .HC and .1 races. The former is off limits to most, the latter is perhaps unattractive and also harder for a team that doesn't come from a country which has its own highly developed national calendar like France, Belgium, or Italy. And it perhaps seems doubly unattractive to Aqua Blue because they emerged and got a wildcard GT invite in year 1. But if you look across the ProConti fields, major stage race invites in year 1 are the exception, not the norm (Classics are a bit different as more teams can compete and there are almost twice as many wildcards as a result, whereas stage races are more restrictive), was Delaney talking about his good fortune then?
 
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With the disclaimer that I'm Irish, I think Delaney's complaint is that there's no fair path for progression - Pro Conti has fallen way behind World Tour and they were the only PC team that won a GT stage last year (and had a few near-misses with Blythe), plus they animated every race they were in, but they've learned that that counts for nothing for wildcards. In GT terms it's becoming a closed shop. Cofidis get TdF and Vuelta invites every year even though they are anonymous and haven't won a GT stage in 4 years. Anyway, this is a distraction. We need to start our own pro classics races in Ireland. We have much bigger hills than Belgium, much worse country roads, and our climate is much, much windier.
 
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vedrafjord said:
With the disclaimer that I'm Irish, I think Delaney's complaint is that there's no fair path for progression - Pro Conti has fallen way behind World Tour and they were the only PC team that won a GT stage last year (and had a few near-misses with Blythe), plus they animated every race they were in, but they've learned that that counts for nothing for wildcards. In GT terms it's becoming a closed shop. Cofidis get TdF and Vuelta invites every year even though they are anonymous and haven't won a GT stage in 4 years. Anyway, this is a distraction. We need to start our own pro classics races in Ireland. We have much bigger hills than Belgium, much worse country roads, and our climate is much, much windier.
But at the same time, you can't claim a few near-misses with Blythe as a positive for ABS and a justification for them being given race invites at the same time as deriding the team of Nacer Bouhanni as anonymous and not deserving of invites. Nacer may not have won a GT stage in the red of Cofidis but he's clearly and justifiably a much, much bigger draw.
 
I take it back, that's a good point - Bouhanni is a very handy sprinter and definitely a threat in GT stages. My target was French/Italian/Spanish teams who have been anonymous in multiple GTs (and teams with Clinic issues who still get invites). The wider question is: a few years ago Pro Conti riders used to win plenty of stages and one-day races, even GTs (like Cobo), now World Tour teams win basically every single stage and every single race at the top level, and a good Pro Conti rider will tend to get snapped up pretty fast to WT. So how do you distribute wildcards? The GT invites now tend to go to local teams or political picks, so what's the path of progression for a Pro Conti team not from France/Italy/Spain/Belgium right now?
 
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Libertine Seguros said:
vedrafjord said:
With the disclaimer that I'm Irish, I think Delaney's complaint is that there's no fair path for progression - Pro Conti has fallen way behind World Tour and they were the only PC team that won a GT stage last year (and had a few near-misses with Blythe), plus they animated every race they were in, but they've learned that that counts for nothing for wildcards. In GT terms it's becoming a closed shop. Cofidis get TdF and Vuelta invites every year even though they are anonymous and haven't won a GT stage in 4 years. Anyway, this is a distraction. We need to start our own pro classics races in Ireland. We have much bigger hills than Belgium, much worse country roads, and our climate is much, much windier.
But at the same time, you can't claim a few near-misses with Blythe as a positive for ABS and a justification for them being given race invites at the same time as deriding the team of Nacer Bouhanni as anonymous and not deserving of invites. Nacer may not have won a GT stage in the red of Cofidis but he's clearly and justifiably a much, much bigger draw.
Add to that Cofidis also signed the Herrada brothers during the transfer period last year. You can be fairly certain they will be racing the Vuelta. Nacer most likely the Tour.
 
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vedrafjord said:
With the disclaimer that I'm Irish, I think Delaney's complaint is that there's no fair path for progression - Pro Conti has fallen way behind World Tour and they were the only PC team that won a GT stage last year (and had a few near-misses with Blythe), plus they animated every race they were in, but they've learned that that counts for nothing for wildcards. In GT terms it's becoming a closed shop. Cofidis get TdF and Vuelta invites every year even though they are anonymous and haven't won a GT stage in 4 years. Anyway, this is a distraction. We need to start our own pro classics races in Ireland. We have much bigger hills than Belgium, much worse country roads, and our climate is much, much windier.
Direct Energie did it too.
 
It's a joke that Cofidis get a gig at the TDF each year - Go through their results and they've been non-competitive for a number of years - Their one wildcard should be at the Vuelta in which they are more competitive.
 
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yaco said:
It's a joke that Cofidis get a gig at the TDF each year - Go through their results and they've been non-competitive for a number of years - Their one wildcard should be at the Vuelta in which they are more competitive.
It’s pretty clear why Cofidis get the gig, though. They’re French. But yeah, they’ve been barely a factor in a major race in years.

Delaney is right that there ought to be a bit of transparency in why his team are getting passed over for major invites. Having them find out via social media is also ridiculous. It’s not like there are a hundred pro-Conti teams out there, the few that exist would surely be worthwhile sending out a “you have not been selected” email with a brief “we feel BH will better align with out promotional priotities for the race” message included.
 
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fauniera said:
Leinster said:
Delaney is right that there ought to be a bit of transparency in why his team are getting passed over for major invites.
A look at the results of his team might help.
His team has more pro wins this season than the three Spanish wildcards combined. His team has more WT wins in the last 12 months than all eight Giro and Vuelta wildcards combined. Results have nothing to do with GT or other major stage race invites in the current set up. The only things that matter are (a) nationality and (b) payments to organisers.

For Gods sake all GT wildcards were unofficially known by February. You’d have to think that race organisers have the gift of precognition if you really want to maintain that results are the issue. Are you under the impression that Unipublic were using astrological charts to predict race results before choosing? If so they should really hire a new mystic because their current seer apparently failed to predict that the three Spanish teams would have zero pro wins by April.

There are people who prefer that the Vuelta be full of Spanish wildcards, the Tour be full of French ones, the Giro be full of... well whatever teams pay RCS. That’s fair enough. There are people who don’t like the idea of another team of mostly anglophones and scandis and while I think that’s pretty silly I don’t really care enough to argue about it. But when people with those views insist on pretending that these preferences reflect results I get a bit irritated. That’s just dishonest.
 
That argument that Aqua Blue is using that it's all about nationality and payments, and that previous GT results should be the decisive factor, aren't all that convincing because they fail to explain how or why Acqua Blue should have got in last year in the first place.
 
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hrotha said:
That argument that Aqua Blue is using that it's all about nationality and payments, and that previous GT results should be the decisive factor, aren't all that convincing because they fail to explain how or why Acqua Blue should have got in last year in the first place.
I don’t think they’d argue with you if you told them they were lucky to get in last year. And there was clearly a bit of “ah, sure por que no these guys?” about it from the organizers. But once in, they would argue they proved their worth, and should have been a reasonable draw to other big race organizers.
 
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Zinoviev Letter said:
His team has more pro wins this season than the three Spanish wildcards combined.
One win. So impressive. In a race that had two World Tour teams and three ProConti teams.

Zinoviev Letter said:
Results have nothing to do with GT or other major stage race invites in the current set up. The only things that matter are (a) nationality and (b) payments to organisers.
Wouldn't say that. Of course nationality and payments matter, the first one rightly so. But it is possible to overcome this by - shock! - being much better than the home teams. Which is not the case. Aqua Blue is a weak team and hasn't done anything noticeable this season.

Zinoviev Letter said:
There are people who prefer that the Vuelta be full of Spanish wildcards, the Tour be full of French ones, the Giro be full of... well whatever teams pay RCS. That’s fair enough. There are people who don’t like the idea of another team of mostly anglophones and scandis and while I think that’s pretty silly I don’t really care enough to argue about it. But when people with those views insist on pretending that these preferences reflect results I get a bit irritated. That’s just dishonest.
Well, i get irritated by comments like this. Nobody said that only results matter, or that the invitation of Murias and Burgos reflect their results. Not sure where you get that from. But it should be clear even for you that the lack of results doesn't help if you want to get selected instead of the home teams, who of course have an advantage (and should have).
 
From the cycling groups I'm part of that are mostly Spaniards, they are excetremely happy the 3 Spanish Pro Conti teams got the Vuelta invites. However, something they are saying is Caja Rural has been around for a while and is the 2nd largest and recognized Spanish team in cycling thus they should get the first invite. Murias is the new Basque team and la Vuelta is going through Basque country. Burgos being a Spanish team, but also that sponsor like Cofidis is also a sponsor of la Vuelta and like Cofidis has been a Vuelta sponsor along with many of the other Spanish races for a long time. Thus leading it to make sense they get an invite. Cofidis gets the final invite on a combination of being a Vuelta sponsor along with the fact that they also signed the Herrada brothers during the off season. Part of the invite is they want the Herrada brothers at la Vuelta.
 
And while the point on the teams is indeed subjective (I'm not against a team which is mostly Anglo/Scandi per se, but the riders on Aqua Blue's roster I'm most interested by are the neo-pros, not the people who've been around a while and who will be more leaned on for results), the TV audience is but one part of the puzzle. The home teams will always have the advantage because they generally automatically have riders that the organizers and fans want to see in their race. It's a puzzle for new ProContis because the way the UCI changed the rules to prevent teams going all in like Cervélo and BMC did makes it hard for them to make the kind of big ticket signing that covers that. If you don't have any home interest then typically you'll need to have somebody who has a draw factor to make a GT organizer want to bring you along. Hell, last year Delko were overlooked for Aqua Blue, and Delko had their base in the south of France near where the race was starting, a couple of Spanish riders including the ever-popular Ángel Madrazo, with a stage running through his home region (the very stage that was eventually won by Denifl for Aqua Blue in fact), and a roster of journeyman that in most cases were at least no worse than Aqua Blue's, and in the case of Mauro Finetto, distinctly better in 2017.

The BMC model isn't really followable now though; to bring in somebody of that profile would probably mean that Delaney subsequently needed to then lose most of his best talent to pay for it, which isn't helpful in the long run of course and also it's unlikely that they'll find somebody of comparable level within the sport to Evans that they can lean on for invitations like that; Barguil going to Fortuneo is the only viable comparison. Otherwise, perhaps they'd have needed a couple of Italians (if aiming for Giro) or Spaniards (if aiming for Vuelta), either journeymen with popularity or prospects, because regardless of whether Dunbar or Pedersen may be bigger talents or have more all-round capabilities, more of the fans who line the roadside are going to be interested in Fernando Barceló or Sérgio Samitier. That's just how it is. But that's no guarantee either, because otherwise Delko would have been there ahead of Manzana or Aqua Blue last year.

Essentially, it's about balancing Star Power vs. Home Interest vs. Sponsor Interests vs. Fan Attraction vs. Racing Results vs. Racing Benefit (what they bring to the race other than on the results sheet, in terms of inclusivity, attacking, TV time and animation). The relationship between these will vary race to race and year to year. This year, home interest is clearly quite a key consideration for the Vuelta - possibly because Spanish riders only won one stage of the race last year, and only placed one rider in the top 10 - both of which were the same rider who has now retired. Of the other Spanish riders who made the top 20, Pardilla is 35 and Moreno is 36. Getting some GT experience for some of the riders who may become the focus of the crowd interest in a few years' time might be of more benefit to Guillén in the long term than having a stronger team of race animators in the short term.
 
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fauniera said:
Zinoviev Letter said:
His team has more pro wins this season than the three Spanish wildcards combined.
One win. So impressive. In a race that had two World Tour teams and three ProConti teams.

Zinoviev Letter said:
Results have nothing to do with GT or other major stage race invites in the current set up. The only things that matter are (a) nationality and (b) payments to organisers.
Wouldn't say that. Of course nationality and payments matter, the first one rightly so. But it is possible to overcome this by - shock! - being much better than the home teams. Which is not the case. Aqua Blue is a weak team and hasn't done anything noticeable this season.

Zinoviev Letter said:
There are people who prefer that the Vuelta be full of Spanish wildcards, the Tour be full of French ones, the Giro be full of... well whatever teams pay RCS. That’s fair enough. There are people who don’t like the idea of another team of mostly anglophones and scandis and while I think that’s pretty silly I don’t really care enough to argue about it. But when people with those views insist on pretending that these preferences reflect results I get a bit irritated. That’s just dishonest.
Well, i get irritated by comments like this. Nobody said that only results matter, or that the invitation of Murias and Burgos reflect their results. Not sure where you get that from. But it should be clear even for you that the lack of results doesn't help if you want to get selected instead of the home teams, who of course have an advantage (and should have).
The point is that responding to Delaney whining about his team being overlooked in favour of other teams with worse results by saying that the problem is his team’s results is completely unreasonable.

With the current structure of the sport there is an upper level on how good a PCT team can be, short of signing a freak neopro or getting extravagantly lucky in some other way. Every PCT team is “weak” compared to the best second division teams of a few years ago because any riders who would have been leaders of successful small teams in times past are now well paid domestiques on WT teams. Barguil signing for Fortuneo was a huge deal because it now takes very odd circumstances for such a thing to happen. I actually started a thread here four or five years ago about how the best Conti teams had become as good as the better PCT teams when I noticed a drastic change in the usual European Tour standings. As Libertine Seguros notes, you can’t compare todays PCT outfits against the likes of the BMC team of old. You can only compare them against their current rivals.

So when you say Aquablue are “weak”, I’m left wondering how bad you think most of the other PCT teams are. Just look at the rosters of most of the teams with wildcards. Direct Energie are pretty good. Androni are a bit more uneven but overall almost as good as DE. Fortuneo are not good but do have Barguil. Cofidis are Cofidis, expensively mediocre. Wanty are good but not at stage racing. After that things fall off a cliff. Aquablue are comfortably in the top quarter of the division in terms of talent, second or third in terms of results in 2017 and first or second in terms of quality of neopro signings. That’s still not all that great. It’s a low bar. There is no huge claim being made for them here. But I get the impression that a lot of the people making glib comments about quality really haven’t tried comparing them against their actual competition rather than against an imaginary better PCT standard. Most of the division is absolutely awful.

GT invites are currently decided solely by nationality and pay to play considerations. That’s all there is to it. Maybe that could be overcome by quality and results of the sort the biggest PCT teams could manage in times past, but there’s nothing much a current PCT team could do to get so good as to even test that proposition. What’s more the same organisers give the bulk of week long ravce invites to the same teams. That means that if a PCT team isn’t Spanish etc or can’t buy invites, it is doomed to operate as an outlandishly expensive Conti team.

I’m not a particular admirer of Delaney (as I’ve already said, rich dudes with pro sports teams as hobbies give me hives). But I really can’t blame him for being annoyed at discovering that there’s nothing he can do short of spending another fortune to get his expensive toy into races.
 

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