Monday, December 1, 2014

2015 Team Obituaries: Laying to rest those that won't be joining us in the new year

And lo, it is the time of year that teams are locking up the service course doors for the last time and trying to sell the remainder of their team bikes on eBay. In the current state of cycling, teams come and go every year with some going just anonymously as they came. Others demises are emotional, involve last-minute saves that do not come to be and riders scrambling to keep the dream alive. Let us go through the development teams whose jerseys will not be seen in the peloton come January.

4-72 Colombia
One of the most tragic stories from the transfer season has to be the demise of 4-72 Colombia. A couple of months ago, there was talk that 4-72 Colombia was going to go Pro Continental. In September, it was announced they would stay as a continental team for '15 but they would be making their move to the Pro Conti ranks in '16. Okay, fine. Two months later, there is the announcement that their potential sponsor deal fell through in the 11th hour and they didn't have enough money to pay the UCI bank guarantee, which meant that the team was forced to move to an amateur setup for 2015.

4-72 Colombia was a beacon in Colombia cycling because of their internal bio-passport program and transparent approach to racing in a country that still suffers from doping problems. The team itself has seen criticism from some in Colombia because of their staunch clean position and has had multiple issues from the Colombian federation.

They have produced big results (especially if you include their predecessor Colombia Es Pasion) including 2 Tour de l'Avenir winners in Nairo Quintana and Estaban Chaves, Tour de l'Avenir podium finisher Juan Chamorro and others including Heiner Parra, Jarlinson Pantano, Juan Villegas, Diego Ochoa and Giro della Valle d'Aosta winner Bernardo Suaza.

What happens from here is still to be decided. Many riders, even without the funding, are pledging their allegiance to the team because of the values they stand on. Big riders like Suaza seem to be looking around a bit with the climber being linked to the new GM Cycling team in Italy.

I hope the team isn't dead. This project was a true glimmer of hope and was cycling done the right way. Anyone who isn't saddened, at least in cycling terms, needs to get their priorities straight.

Development Team Giant-Shimano

Development Team Giant-Shimano, we hardly knew ye. While the World Tour team was able to get a new sponsor and live on as Giant-Alpecin, the development team that was new in 2014 is being stopped after only 1 season.

The project was originally driven by Aike Visbeek, who is a coach with the World Tour team. He had been involved in the People4You-Unaas Cycling until the end of 2013, when the team had a rough breakup. Visbeek brought with him Swedish talent Frederik Ludvigsson, the brother of pro Tobias, along with Robert Pölder, whose father is buddies with Visbeek, and Christopher Bertilsson. The big signing was that of Lars van der Haar, the cyclocross sensation who would be riding in the team's colors on the dirt and on the road.

They assembled a pretty good team of U23 and younger non-U23 talents but it wasn't exactly the season they were hoping for. They ended up with 2 wins and some high placings courtesy of Kristian Haugaard but they were dealt with big blows when Mathias Rask suffered knee problems that saw him compete in just 1 race while Ludvigsson had iliac artery issues that bothered him all season and he ended up going under the knife early in the the off season.

To say the team was successful would be...ehhh. Max Schachmann and Jan Brockhoff did themselves favors by getting some strong results and getting off the AWT-Greenway for 2015. Van der Haar showed to everyone that watched that while he could potentially do well on the road, he is certainly home in the dirt. He and Ludvigsson will be moving up to the Giant-Alpecin team for 2015 with the former still concentrating on cyclocross full-time. The team's demise wasn't great for all as Haugaard, Pölder, Bertilsson and Kiwi Alex Frame are all without confirmed rides for 2015.

The team is moving away from a direct development team in favor of testing riders multiple time during the season and if they check out along with getting some results, they will be offered a ride. It does cut down on the huge expense of running another team but it take away a personal connection. I mean, the way that the World Tour is currently is set up, a direct World Tour feeder team doesn't make too much sense simply because only a couple of riders can graduate to the pro team at a time and in many cases, there are more riders ready than riders needed.


This one is only a partial death. The passion of Miguel Madarriaga will live on with the Euskadi team but, at least for 2015, the team well be reverting to amateur status. The year after Euskaltel-Euskadi finally kicked the bucket, Madariagga ran out of money after the Vuelta a Burgos and the team more or less ceased to exist after that. I got a lot of my grieving out last year about the demise of Basque cycling and I have a feeling that it won't be too long before we see some sort of Euskadi-like team in the future. Even for 2015, there is a new Spanish continental team called Murias Taldea that is essentially Basque with nearly all of their riders coming from the Basque Country or Navarre.

Also, if anyone could procure me a Euskadi jersey, I would be indebted to you. Love the jersey. Size Large, please and thank you.

Other continental teams that are stopping include: Koga (Netherlands), BDC-Marcpol (Poland), Christina Watches (Denmark), EPIC Janom Greenway (Slovakia), Firefighters Uppsala CK (Sweden), Gebruder Weiss (Austria), Josan-ToWin (Belgium), SP Tableware (Greece)

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