• The Cycling News forum is looking to add some volunteer moderators with Red Rick's recent retirement. If you're interested in helping keep our discussions on track, send a direct message to @SHaines here on the forum, or use the Contact Us form to message the Community Team.

    In the meanwhile, please use the Report option if you see a post that doesn't fit within the forum rules.

    Thanks!

Vuelta Wildcards

Aqua Blue? Why not Israel Cycling Academy or Novo Nordisk?

Really underwhelming selection. Kind of nice to see Manzana but strength-wise there's a few ProConti teams ahead of them. Caja Rural and Cofidis were givens. I don't really see what Aqua Blue adds to the race. Direct Energie would have been the obvious ones but if they were going to go left-field, Delko would have been a much more interesting choice, especially with the Vuelta starting in the south of France where the team would have support, and could add a lot more to the race as well as some local interest with Délio Fernández and Ángel Madrazo.
 
Jun 30, 2014
7,060
2
0
Visit site
Aqua Blue isn't that bad, thy've got Denifl fo breakaways in the mountains/fighting for the mountains jersey, Nordhaug for the hilly stages and a decent train for Blythe (let's not pretend that the sprinters field at the Vuelta is world class) and it would also be a decent learning experience for a young climber like Daniel Pearson.
I would have prefered to see Delko an I think that they would have deserved it.
I don't know how to feel about the Postobon wildcard, it's probably a bit too early for most of their riders, but at least it should be a great learnin experience for them.
I don't think that the Italian teams even applied for a wildcard, they'll be targeting the Italian autumn classics because of the Coppa Italia (winner gets a Giro wildcard) and their sponsors interest, so they want their top riders to peak for that race.
Add the fact that RAI isnt showing the Vuelta and you get why they wan to target the autumn classics. That said, Nippo and Androni really sould have tried to get a TdS wildcard, that would have been a great race for them.
 
I'm a bit surprised to see complaints. It's much better to see two somewhat out of left field teams get wild cards which provide them with a centre piece for their season than that those spots are wasted on teams that will treat the race as an afterthought to another GT and send second stringers. It's exactly the sort of thing the Vuelta, which isn't obliged to keep more than one local team alive, should do every year. I don't see why unipublic should be expected to be so delighted to take Fortuneo or some similar team's Tour leftovers.
 
Re:

Zinoviev Letter said:
I'm a bit surprised to see complaints. It's much better to see two somewhat out of left field teams get wild cards which provide them with a centre piece for their season than that those spots are wasted on teams that will treat the race as an afterthought to another GT and send second stringers. It's exactly the sort of thing the Vuelta, which isn't obliged to keep more than one local team alive, should take every year.
Delko > both of these teams

Both in terms of what they can bring to the race, in terms of local interest for the team in the race - both at home and in Spain - in terms of name value and in terms of rider quality.

I feel like it's too soon for Manzana - their team is not as strong on paper as Coldeportes was a couple of years ago when they were rather nondescript at the Giro, and I really just am not enthused by the Aqua Blue roster for any stage races of any significance. They have nothing to really recommend them for the Vuelta - only one or two ok stagehunters and a second tier sprinter. I know the sprinting field at the Vuelta is always pretty meh, but is it really improved by the addition of journeymen like Adam Blythe and Leigh Howard? Not to mention that the Vuelta clashes with the Tour of Britain, which is likely to be a major target race for Aqua Blue too. One-day racing and flat-to-hilly short stage races seem much more profitable territory for them as a team.

Don't get me wrong, we don't have a BMC 2010, whose wildcard entry for one Belgian classic was withdrawn because the team they entered was considered too bush league by the organizers (who, to add insult to injury, replaced them with Xacobeo-Galicia), a first year GreenEdge, who got eliminated from the Teams Classification at the Giro because they didn't have enough finishers, or a Footon where they'd not have got any invites at all if they hadn't been guaranteed one by the system at the time. But I don't see a single thing about their squad that gives me any reason to be enthusiastic about seeing them in the Vuelta, not one rider I'm excited or intrigued by the possibilities of now that they've got a GT invite. At least with Manzana-Postobon there's some intrigue, I just think the time is not right for them yet as they don't have an experienced leader that they have the ability to build around and allow the prospects to gain experience in the longest form racing for.
 
Re: Re:

Libertine Seguros said:
Zinoviev Letter said:
I'm a bit surprised to see complaints. It's much better to see two somewhat out of left field teams get wild cards which provide them with a centre piece for their season than that those spots are wasted on teams that will treat the race as an afterthought to another GT and send second stringers. It's exactly the sort of thing the Vuelta, which isn't obliged to keep more than one local team alive, should take every year.
Delko > both of these teams

Both in terms of what they can bring to the race, in terms of local interest for the team in the race - both at home and in Spain - in terms of name value and in terms of rider quality.

I feel like it's too soon for Manzana - their team is not as strong on paper as Coldeportes was a couple of years ago when they were rather nondescript at the Giro, and I really just am not enthused by the Aqua Blue roster for any stage races of any significance. They have nothing to really recommend them for the Vuelta - only one or two ok stagehunters and a second tier sprinter. I know the sprinting field at the Vuelta is always pretty meh, but is it really improved by the addition of journeymen like Adam Blythe and Leigh Howard? Not to mention that the Vuelta clashes with the Tour of Britain, which is likely to be a major target race for Aqua Blue too. One-day racing and flat-to-hilly short stage races seem much more profitable territory for them as a team.

Don't get me wrong, we don't have a BMC 2010, whose wildcard entry for one Belgian classic was withdrawn because the team they entered was considered too bush league by the organizers (who, to add insult to injury, replaced them with Xacobeo-Galicia), a first year GreenEdge, who got eliminated from the Teams Classification at the Giro because they didn't have enough finishers, or a Footon where they'd not have got any invites at all if they hadn't been guaranteed one by the system at the time. But I don't see a single thing about their squad that gives me any reason to be enthusiastic about seeing them in the Vuelta, not one rider I'm excited or intrigued by the possibilities of now that they've got a GT invite. At least with Manzana-Postobon there's some intrigue, I just think the time is not right for them yet as they don't have an experienced leader that they have the ability to build around and allow the prospects to gain experience in the longest form racing for.

Not only are we not talking about either of these wildcards being notably Footon level bad, we also aren't talking about any excluded teams that are really notably good. There are no PCT teams at a near-WT level at the moment. Neither are any teams being refused a Vuelta invite that their business model depends on. Unipublic aren't denying possible contenders a chance to compete and they aren't risking killing any teams.

You can make an argument for a Delko or a Roompot, or an Androni, teams that don't already have a GT invite in their pocket. But we have little reason to think that either of the latter were seriously pursuing an invite and, it's hardly unreasonable that unipublic might not see much value in bringing a fourth French team with a lower profile than the three they have to invite. They may figure that Manzana and Aquablue have more novelty factor and will bring more media attention overall than one more French outfit. It's also not as if there's much of a gulf in quality between their roster and Aquablue's one anyway.

I'm quite amused by the fact that if anything there's been more complaining about Aquablue than about Manzana. I know Colombians are a more exciting proposition than a bunch of Anglophones and Scandis, but Aquablue's squad is rather obviously deeper and is mostly made up of riders with a reasonable amount of experience in WT races. Manzana are a much riskier proposition - more likely to have someone really shine in the mountains, but also more likely to have a disaster. Aquablue will not be in the bottom quarter of the teams in the race in terms of strength, I predict, because they can make it a focus for the season for their first string squad while quite a few WT teams will send their scrapings, third stringers and the tired.

I like that they are both there. And I'd really likely if Unipublic started taking an unpredictable approach to their two (in reality) wildcard choices every year. In so far as race organisers owe teams anything, it's a responsibility to local teams that Unipublic really doesn't have to be bothered with bar Caja Rural. Next year bring UHC and Roompot, or Delko and Wanty etc...
 
I guess it's more that, Pearson aside, there may be more experience in the Aqua Blue lineup, but far less to look forward to. Manzana are inexperienced, but there's always a level of interest with people who can be considered prospects. In Aqua Blue the only riders I see being of interest are established, but are riders I see as journeymen, so there's no curiosity value for me in what they are capable of compared to the Manzana guys. There may not be many teams out there that are noticeably better than Aqua Blue, but there's a lot of teams that are noticeably not worse and more interesting. Maybe they can do a decent stagehunting job like Dimension Data or something if we're lucky, but I just don't see anybody on the Aqua Blue roster that makes me enthusiastic to see them at the Vuelta any more than I'd be excited to see what Caja Rural could do with an invite for Flanders and Roubaix, just some decent domestiques and journeymen. Sorry, I just think it's an incredibly underwhelming selection.
 
Re: Re:

hrotha said:
Remember when Aqua Blue was totes going to race MSR?

Yes an embarrassing screw up that. But I suspect that invites to the Vuelta, Liege, Flèche, Suisse etc have probably helped them get over the trauma.

There are lots of fair criticisms that can be made of Aquablue, but one thing that they have done really exceptionally well at is harvesting invites. It is very rare for a brand new team to get a GT wildcard. What was taken as boasting about the races they were hoping to get into at the start of the season looks very modest three months later when compared to the races they actually will ride. If they'd said at the start of the year that they'd ride Ardennes week, Tour de Suisse and the Vuelta, people would have thought the team owner was off his rocker.

(Note though that they haven't been invited to any RCS races as far as I can see.)
 
Re:

Libertine Seguros said:
I guess it's more that, Pearson aside, there may be more experience in the Aqua Blue lineup, but far less to look forward to. Manzana are inexperienced, but there's always a level of interest with people who can be considered prospects. In Aqua Blue the only riders I see being of interest are established, but are riders I see as journeymen, so there's no curiosity value for me in what they are capable of compared to the Manzana guys. There may not be many teams out there that are noticeably better than Aqua Blue, but there's a lot of teams that are noticeably not worse and more interesting. Maybe they can do a decent stagehunting job like Dimension Data or something if we're lucky, but I just don't see anybody on the Aqua Blue roster that makes me enthusiastic to see them at the Vuelta any more than I'd be excited to see what Caja Rural could do with an invite for Flanders and Roubaix, just some decent domestiques and journeymen. Sorry, I just think it's an incredibly underwhelming selection.

At this point we are getting into purely subjective preferences, which is fair enough but also not particularly persuasive to anyone with different preferences.

It's not egregiously unfair to say that Aquablue is mostly a team made up of established, competent but unspectacular journeymen, with one young climbing talent thrown in. But a post earlier you were arguing for Delko... which is also mostly a team made up of established, competent journeymen with one young talent thrown in!

As far as Unipublic are concerned, I doubt if they are particularly interested in the upper limits of the potential of any of the riders in any of the teams they are inviting. They are interested in whether they can bring attention and be competitive in August. They seem to have decided that they will bring more extra attention to their own race overall by bringing the Colombian kids and the Irish team full of Brits and Scandinavians than they will by bringing a fourth French team. I suspect that they are probably right.

I'm glad to see less predictable invites and would like to see Unipublic do this kind of thing regularly - in fact I'd like to see them avoid giving wildcards to any teams that already have a GT invite, although I know that Cofidis are unfortunately basically compulsory. I'd be equally happy with the two being almost any of the teams without Giro or Tour invites.
 
Manzana will liven up the peloton from a visual perspective but I don't really see what they've done to warrant a wildcard. I get the potential surprise element but I'm pretty sure Aqua Blue will have a greater impact on the race. It is 5 months hence for sure and a lot can change but I'm looking forward to seeing Aqua Blue in a Grand Tour more than Manzana. But then I am part Irish. And I concede the clash with the Tour of Britain isn't ideal.
 
Nov 29, 2010
2,326
0
0
Visit site
Re:

Fernandez said:
I wonder how it will feel the 40ºc. of Spains August to this irish team. They will melt down.

They do surprisingly well. I think Phil Deignan even managed a top ten there if I'm remembering that correctly. Nico Roche got his best GT positions there (5th,6th), same with Dan Martin. Plus ofc Kelly won the whole thing. Results wise it actually makes sense that the Vuelta would be the first GT to invite the irish over.
 
Re: Re:

deValtos said:
Fernandez said:
I wonder how it will feel the 40ºc. of Spains August to this irish team. They will melt down.

They do surprisingly well. I think Phil Deignan even managed a top ten there if I'm remembering that correctly. Nico Roche got his best GT positions there (5th,6th), same with Dan Martin. Plus ofc Kelly won the whole thing. Results wise it actually makes sense that the Vuelta would be the first GT to invite the irish over.

Yeah but it really doesn't matter does it? As Aqua Blue hold an Irish license they aren't really an Irish team when 3 out of the 16 riders in the line up are Irish.
 
It strikes me that it is very hard now to argue that Aquablue do not deserve their unexpected Vuelta invite. The Osterreich Rundfahrt and a stage of Suisse are among the very biggest wins by a PCT team so far this season, only really obviously worse than Calmejane's Tour stage today. They haven't hoovered up wins in small races like a Direct Energie or Androni, but they have established themselves as among the stronger PCT outfits very quickly.

The most obvious Vuelta picks for them at the moment are Warbasse and Denifl. Blythe has surely also been good enough so far this season. They will probably feel an obligation to take one or two Irish riders, which would make Dunne very likely and also mean Brammeier has a chance. Then they have to decide if they take nominal leaders who haven't performed for them so far like Nordhaug and Howard. On paper they are obvious choices, but on form they are not. Is Pearson ready? What about Norman Hansen and Gate, both of whom have been strong for them.