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In February, CyclingQuotes selected ten riders who we believed could win a WorldTour race in 2016. It is time to look back on the season our ten have had, and find out just how many took top tier wins this season. 

Photo: Sirotti

BOB JUNGELS

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BRYAN COQUARD

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JARLINSON PANTANO

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JULIAN ALAPHILIPPE

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NEWS

NICCOLÓ BONIFAZIO

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SEP VANMARCKE

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SILVAN DILLIER

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SIMON YATES

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TIESJ BENOOT

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WORLDTOUR

NEWS
05.10.2016 @ 15:39 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Back in early February, CyclingQuotes selected ten riders who we believed could win a WorldTour race in 2016. Now that the opportunity to win individual stages has come to a close, there were 27 riders who took a debut WorldTour win this year, while Miguel Angel Lopez made it 28 as he became the only rider this year to take his first WorldTour win in the GC of a stage race, capturing the Tour de Suisse for Astana.

 

Now, it is time to look back on the season our ten riders have had, and find out just how many of our ten made it into the 26 who took top tier wins this season. We will show you what we said about the riders pre season, then how their season actually went.

 

1. Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep)

 

What we said: Talented Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe has the cycling world at his feet. He has already won two tough stages in races like Tour de l’Ain and Tour of California and has been runner up in both Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He can go the distance and has a fast finish, making him a candidate possible of winning all kinds of races. The only issues facing Alaphilippe is the lack of support in big races. In hilly races, he will play second fiddle at Etixx-QuickStep to Dan Martin and for reduced bunch kicks, the team arguably has faster riders. He is also suffering with mononucleosis, which has prevented him from racing so far in 2016. He is scheduled to ride Tour de la Provence and is hoping to be back fully for the Ardennes and Tour de France. His recovery time will determine how successful he can be in 2016. If he can return to his 2015 level, there is no doubt that the 23 year old will break his top-tier duct in 2016.

 

How he did: Amazingly, Alaphilippe failed to take a WorldTour win for the third straight season. However, it was definetly a confitmation in 2016 that he is a big star and will take many great wins in his career. The Frenchman missed the first part of the season but returned to form in time for Brabantse Pijl, Amstel, Fleche and Liege, placing eighth, sixth, second (again) and 23rd. from there he went straight to California, where he once more took out the summit finish, although this time he was also able to score the GC win. After taking 2nd in a Dauphine stage and fifth in nationals, he went to his debut Tour. He placed in the top ten four times, including second only to Peter Sagan on day two. Fourth in a very hard Olympics road race only served to showcase just how talented he is. Tenth in Montreal and 2nd in Euros rounded out another superb season for the 24 year old.

 

2. Simon Yates (Orica-BikeExchange)

 

What we said: When turning pro with Orica-GreenEDGE, Simon Yates was touted as the better of the two brothers, having already beaten Brad Wiggins and Nairo Quintana at a stage in Tour of Britain. The first two years of his pro career have been promising, but he has been unable to win a race, while brother Adam has already won Clasica San Sebastian. Yates has clearly focussed more on riding for GC than stage wins, but his ability on climbs has allowed him to podium stages in Pais Vasco and the Dauphine, while getting three top tens on WT GCs and two top twenties in Monuments. The Brit is clearly a very talented climber and he can beat the best in the mountains, it just depends whether or not he opts to focus on GCs once again, or if he can slip off for stage wins while Adam rides for the overall.

 

How he did: Yates started well in 2016 with seventh on GC in Paris-Nice, but he soon faced a four month doping ban after his team doctor forgot to apply for a TUE for the inhaler he was using. What looked an awful year was soon corrected in superb fashion in Spanish races, winning the Prueba Villafranca-Ordiziako Klasika before taking seventh in San Sebastian and then 2nd the next day in Cicuito de Getxo. Fourth on GC in Burgos was followed by sixth on GC at the Vuelta, where he used teammate Esteban Chaves’ role as main GC threat to slip away to win stage six of the race. an overall great season that shows just how mentally tough the young Brit is.

 

3. Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo)

 

What we said: Classics star Sep Vanmarcke faces the nasty situation of only really being able to win a WT race in a cobbled classic. He struggles on long climbs and while he is fast, he is nowhere near quick enough to challenge anyone in reduced bunch kicks. But, luckily, he is very good at cobbled races. He already has a podium in Flanders, Roubaix and Gent-Wevelgem and seven top tens in the top cobbled events. He is on this list as he can win one of these races, but with competition getting fierce (and crucially, faster in sprints) the LottoNL-Jumbo rider needs to take a chance sooner rather than later or he will become a nearly man.

 

How he did: Sadly, our prediction that the Belgian needs a Classics win to take a top tier win once again came true. Outside of the Classics, Vanmarkce only had four WorldTour top tens. In the Classics, while he didn’t win, he proved his unlucky 2015 was just a blip and he was back on song, as he took 8th in E3, 2nd in Gent-Wevelgem, 3rd in Flanders and 4th in Roubaix. Once more, Vanmarcke will feature on our list for 2017, and once again, the month of March and early April will be key to seeing if he remains on the list for 2018.

 

4. Diego Rosa (Astana)

 

What we said: Italian talent Diego Rosa has always shown climbing potential during his career. In 2013, the 26 year old was riding his first Grand Tour and finished 22nd overall for Androni. Since then, he struggled to get to do top level races and joined Astana for 2015, where he won Milan-Turin and was fifth as teammate Nibali took out Il Lombardia. He also placed fifth on the Giro stage to Imola and tenth on two more Grand Tour stages. He isn’t very high on the pecking order at Astana for now as he cant time trial, meaning he often has to work for others in the hills. But he faces a good situation, as Nibali may leave the team in 2017 and he is a better climber than the likes of Sanchez, Scarponi, Fuglsang and Cataldo. This means that he may be the leader in any stage race Aru doesn’t ride, which gives him a chance to seek, success, provided Miguel Angel Lopez doesn’t begin to really excel in top races. This may allow the great climber to sneak away to take wins like Aru did at the 2014 Giro, his first WT win.

 

How he did: Rosa had a worrying start to the year when he wasn’t allowed to lead the team, instead working for Aru in Paris-Nice and the Pais Vasco. But when Aru wasn’t feeling well on the hard Arrate stage in the latter race, Rosa joined the break before dropping everyone and doing 100km solo before arriving at the line over three minutes clear of anyone else, jumping off his steed at the line and raising it high above his head. La Classe, as the French would say. Tenth in Liege was followed by a chance to lead Astana at the Dauphine, where he took a strong seventh on GC. Since then, he has ridden his first Tour de France and was just edged out by Esteban Chaves in Lombardy at the weekend. A superstar in the making.

 

5. Jarlinson Pantano (IAM)

 

What we said: Punchy climber Jarlinson Pantano may be a surprise inclusion on this list as has achieved his WT results via breakaways. But the 27 year old Colombian on IAM has podiumed stages of the Tour and Giro, as well as take top tens Down Under and finish 19th in his debut Tour. His climbing ability and fairly fast finish after hard days make him the perfect rider for Grand Tour breakaways, and as he gains even more experience, he can definitely win a WorldTour race this season. His schedule is a little unclear and after the Tour Down Under, where he was ninth on Willunga Hill, he doesn’t have any more top tier events on his schedule. But he did plenty of racing at the elite level last season and there is no reason to suggest 2016 wont be a continuation of that trend. Pantano needs to find the right races, but he has the speed to win any stage that doesn’t suit sprinters like Sagan and Degenkolb.

 

How he did: One word, exceptional. 2016 was the season Pantano announced himself fully to the cycling world. Ninth on Willunga Hill was followed by third on the Barcelona stage in Catalunya, and things were not looking great. But at the Tour de Suisse, he climbed fabulously, with 12th, 13th and 4th on the three summit finishes, before seventh in the TT set him up for a top five on GC. The final hard stage was shortened, and Pantano was on the attack, showcasing great descending skills before using the turn of speed we spoke of to win the stage and take fourth overall. He was eerily quiet in the Tour, but came alive in the final week, winning into Culoz before taking two second places, one on a summit finish, the other on a descent into Morzine via a wet Col de Joux Plane. Next year he will race with Trek-Segafredo, where he will seek to win more WorldTour races and show he is one of the best descenders in the world.

 

6. Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep)

 

What we said: Jungels has gotten his 2016 season, his first with Etixx-QuickStep, off to a flier, taking stage one in Oman and looking great in Valenciana. He can time trial and go over punchy climbs, meaning he can survive hard days and then attack to never be seen again. He was highly rated by his old team, Trek, and has five pro wins already. His new Belgian squad’s tendency to attack with multiple cards suits him even better, so expect a big year from Jungels, who has Tirreno, Ardennes, Romandie, Giro and the Tour on his WT schedule. Plenty of opportunity for a big talent.

 

How he did: Jungels form post February was equally as good as it was during it, taking 17th in Strade Bianche, third on GC in Tirreno, third in the Romandie TT before taking sixth overall and spending three days in the race lead at the Giro. Third was the highest he finished on a stage. He didn’t race much post Giro, with tenth overall in Eneco his best result. There is no doubt he will win a TT at some point, but a decision to focus on climbing may hamper his power, so he will hope to wrap a few TT wins under his belt in the coming two years before he has to decide if he wants to target a GT GC.

 

7. Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek-Segafredo)

 

What we said: Having swapped Lampre-Merida for Trek-Segafredo, fastman Bonifazio has looked good in 2016, podiuming two races from six completed race days. He has a good Italian core at his new team to ensure he settles and will have riders to lead him out. He is very fast and has undeniable talent for someone who is just 22. Last season, he recorded top tens in Australia, Paris-Nice, Pologne and Vatenfall, plus an amazing fifth at Milan-Sanremo, showcasing his raw talent. How his schedule fits in with Giro points winner Giacomo Nizzolo remains to be seen, but Bonifazio has time on his side, and seven pro wins to his name in two years, just three shy of Nizzolo’s total from five full seasons.

 

How he did: Another good season with lots of top placings. A stage win in Poland broke his WT duct, but in truth he must be disappointed as he could have won more. 2nd on a Paris-Nice stage, 2nd in a Romandie stage and three break riders denied him on the line just a few stages later, third in a Dauphine stage. Just too many podiums, not enough wins. His big chance came at the Vuelta, where Trek had no GC leader and the sprint field was poor. Two seventh places and a DNF before the first week’s conclusion is simply not enough. He has broken his contract with Trek-Segafredo to join Bahrain-Merida, where he will fight with Sonny Colbrelli to lead in hilly sprints. His attitude is brought into question once more and he will hope to not go the same way as ex-teammate Nizzolo, who has not won a WorldTour race in six seasons now.

 

8. Silvan Dillier (BMC)

 

What we said: Swiss star Silvan Dillier marked himself out as one to watch when he completed the rare feat of taking a pro win as a stagiaire at the 2013 Tour of Alberta. The 25 year old Swiss star has started 2016 well, with fourth overall in Dubai a good start. His WorldTour results are indifferent, with just seven top tens in WT races from his first two seasons, but he has great TT ability, a fast finish and the ability to get over medium sized climbs of fairly hard gradients. This should ensure he features well in races like Pais Vasco, Swiss races and the Giro, which he is due to ride once more in 2016.

 

How he did: We left Fernando Gaviria off the list as we thought the Rio Olympics would force him off the road. Dillier’s strong February led us to believe he would do lots of road racing. In the end, it was the opposite, as Gaviria raced lots on the road, while injury and the Olympics kept Dillier away. Post February, tenth in the Giro’s opening TT, eighth in the Suisse prologue and then third after jumping clear late on with Sagan and Albasini a few days later and then ninth on a Vuelta sprint to Bilbao was as good as its gotten. We don’t doubt his talent and do think he can win a WorldTour race, but we will not be so confident to wholeheartedly say 2017 will be his year.

 

9. Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie)

 

What we said: After a great start to the season, Bryan Coquard suffered a huge blow with a fractured shoulder blade. The 23 year old will now miss Paris-Nice and Catalunya, races he excelled in last year. Despite the two month setback, we have no reason to doubt the Frenchman. He is Direct Energie’s leader and he is very fast. He has eleven top tens in the last two Tour de Frances and he has shown an ability to ride well on flat finishes like Champs Elysees to harder stuff like the hard drag to Harrogate in 2014 and in Le Havre in 2015. It all depends on how he recovers, but he has plenty of chances to ride well if he goes to the Dauphine and Tour. For Coquard, it will be a matter of if and not when he takes a big win and his career shows he does well in France (15 of 17 wins come at home). Champs-Elysees beckons Bryan…

 

How he did: Coquard must really regret that injury, as it has robbed him of two golden chances in Paris-Nice and Catalunya, where stage wins were more than just a possibility. As we predicted, his WorldTour race days were minimal. He was simply brilliant in Amstel Gold as he made it over the climbs to take fourth, second from the bunch sprint. A great Tour saw him take four top ten results, two of them podiums, with Marcel Kittel’s tyre width denying him the win on stage four. Provided he stays healthy, a guaranteed winner in 2017.

 

10. Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal)

 

What we said: Fifth in your debut Tour of Flanders at just 21 is not bad at all. Lotto-Soudal’s tiesj Benoot looked good as a neo-pro, but in 2015 he became a superstar, with fifth in Flanders and Montreal and top tens in Eneco and the Dauphine. He is fast in small group sprints and can get over small hills, making him a great contender for almost all Classics, stages in Giro, Tour, Eneco, Dauphine and the Swiss races. He has lots of talent and has a great team committed to him and willing to give him chances. Learning from the likes of Jurgen Roelandts, Jens Debusschere, Andre Greipel and Tony Gallopin will also help him progress quickly to the top of our sport too. It is scary to think how strong the soon-to-be 22 year old will be once he has a Grand Tour in his legs…

 

How he did: We cant quite believe we are typing this but not only did Tiesj Benoot not win a WT race this year, he still hasn’t won a pro race yet at all. His season is littered with top tens but in the WorldTour, things were a little harder than 2015. Two top tens in Tirreno were followed by 7th in E3, but that was it for his Classics as a bad crash in Flanders ensured he wouldn’t be able to do anything but finish Roubaix. He was on course for a strong top 20 in Suisse, but didn’t start the last stage. However, he was brave enough to finish in Poland, and was rewarded with third on Zakopane and fifth on GC, as teammate Tim Wellens took the overall. still the wait for a debut GT goes on as he opted to race in Canada, taking 18th and 13th respectively. We firmly believe his win will come for certain in 2017, and there is a good chance it will be a WorldTour race too for one of the most talented youngsters in our sport.

 

As always, we didn’t manage to get all ten riders a WorldTour win, but we think four out of ten is not bad. So who did we miss? As mentioned earlier, the Tour Down Under was finished before this article went to press, so Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) was already the first debut WorldTour winner. We’ve already mentioned Gaviria and Lopez, as well as the four we successfully named, so who were the other 21?

 

Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha), Mat Hayman (Orica-BikeExchange), Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx), Primoz Roglic (LottoNL), Giuio Ciccione (Bardiani), Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Roger Kluge (IAM), Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Davide Martinelli (Etixx), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie), Sergey Lagutin (Katusha), David de la Cruz (Etixx), Jens Keukeleire (Orica), Valerio Conti (Lampre), Jempy Drucker (BMC), Magnus Cort (Orica), Matthias Frank (IAM), Pierre Latour (AG2R), Oliver Naesen (IAM), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL) and Luka Pibernik (Lampre).

 

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