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Who will rise and who will fall in 2019?

Joe Robinson
3 Jan 2019

Cyclist gives the rundown of who is looking good for 2019 and who is not

Page 2 of 2Who will rise and who will fall in 2018?

With less than two weeks until the 2018 WorldTour kicks off Down Under, Cyclist tells you which riders will shine bright this season and who could potentially fall by the wayside.

Something like this does include a fair amount of guesswork, but judging from 2017 form, the team they have around them and the goals they have set themselves, we have estimated who will rise and fall in 2018.

Last season was very much the year of Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) with the three riders sharing the spoils for the most impressive victories throughout the year.

On the rise

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) 

Vincenzo Nibali is arguably the most complete rider in the peloton currently. Two Grand Tour podiums and victory at Il Lombardia in 2017 proved that. 

The Italian is similar to the riders of yesteryear, showcasing that he can be just as competitive over three weeks as he is over one day.

In fact, the native Sicilian is one of only five to have taken a Monument and all three Grand Tours in his career (Anquetil, Gimondi, Merckx and Hinault being the others).

For this reason, 2018 could be the season that finally earns Nibali the repsect he deserves. Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the Tour de France and the World Championships are on his agenda and cases for victory in all three can be made.

The technical nature of the Tour will suit Nibali and the mountainous nature of the Worlds course in Innsbruck would play to his climbing and descending talents.

Even if the Shark of Messina can win only one of these races, it will be enough to cement his name alongside those of the greats.

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing)

It's no longer a case of always the bridesmaid and never the bride for Greg Van Avermaet.

An unprecedented four victories in Cobbled Classics in 2017, including Paris-Roubaix, made sure the 32-year-old shook off the label of the Classics nearly-man.

A crash at the Tour of Flanders was the only thing that prevented a truly perfect Classics campaign.

Yet, these victories clearly got the monkey off Van Avermaet's back making the Belgian the favourite for Flanders and Roubaix this Spring.

The BMC man is a quick sprinter in a small bunch and has proven he can win wars of attrition, best proven when he fought back from multiple mechanicals to win Roubaix.

With Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara now retired, it looks as if GVA will be the one to fill the void of Cobbled Classic king.

Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors)

Quick-Step Floors was certainly not a team big enough for the both of them. Them being Fernando Gaviria and Marcel Kittel, arguably the two best sprinters in the world last year.

Keeping two talented riders who do the same thing in one team is impossible: LeMond and Hinault a case in point. Eventually something has to give.

Kittel has now moved on to Katusha-Alpecin and left Gaviria as the chief sprinter for the Belgian team for 2018 with Milan-San Remo and debuts at Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France on the cards.

With an incredibly strong team - that found the podium at all five Monuments in 2017, and four Giro stages under his belt, 2018 could be the turn of this young Colombian to dominate sprinting at the Tour.

Since breaking on to the scene in 2015, out-sprinting Mark Cavendish in Argentina, Gaviria has been on the rise and this spiral towards the top is set to only continue in 2018.

Team Sunweb

How does a team improve on victory at the Giro d'Italia, team time trial World Championships and individual time trial World Championships?

Easy, it goes and wins the Tour de France. 

As we currently stand, the bookies prefer the chances of Tom Dumoulin defending his Giro title however, with a Tour that could see Chris Froome tired or even absent, it's hard to see the Dutchman passing the opportunity of a maiden yellow jersey.

If Dumoulin goes to the Tour and wins, Team Sunweb will have proven that they can match Team Sky at the Grand Tours.

Yet, this team is more than just the success of Dumoulin: it boasts one of the youngest squads of the entire WorldTour with winning threats in all departments. 

Expect to see the young and talented Sam Oomen go from strength to strength while Michael Matthews is sure to keep the victory tally ticking over throughout the season.

Falling down

Chris Froome (Team Sky)

Before you see this as a swipe at the rider's adverse analytical findings and the controversy surrounding the him currently, know that this judgement has put that to one side.

Nobody, including Chris Froome, knows what will come of this situation and whether a ban will rule the Brit out of attempting the Giro in May and Tour later this Summer.

Fact is, history is not on the five-time Grand Tour winner's side. Look at those before him who were successful over three weeks: Miguel Indurain stopped winning Grand Tours at 34, Merckx at 29, Contador at 32.

Froome turns 33 next year, arguably the later-years of a stage race contender. This makes a Giro-Tour unlikely. It is even more unlikely when you take in to consideration the 2018 Tour will be Froome's fourth consecutive Grand Tour racing for victory.

Something will give for Britain's most successful male road cyclist and it could well be very soon.

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)

I know, another controversial choice. I can see people now waving three fingers, telling me about his record-breaking third World Championship title.

But take a minute and ask yourself, what do you remember more, Tom Boonen winning Flanders three times or Oscar Freire being a triple winner of the rainbow jersey.

Sagan is a superstar and the biggest name in the sport but if he wants to remembered alongside the Boonens, Museeuws and Cancellaras then he needs to add to his solitary Monument in 2018.

If Sagan was to go out and take the cobbled Monument double in 2018 then all doubts would be silenced but, if he draws blank again, the legend surrounding the Slovak could begin to show cracks.


With Alberto Contador now retired, Trek-Segafredo appear to be a team in limbo. 

Failing to replace the Spaniard, the team seems light on the ground when it comes to Grand Tour contention. Only Bauke Mollema remains as a viable option at stage races.

Beyond this, the team invested heavily in a Classics roster that largely underwhelmed last season. Despite a sprinkling of top-10s, John Degenkolb is not back to his 2015 best yet and Jasper Stuyven and Fabio Felline failed to fill the German's shoes.

The recruitment of Gianluca Brambilla and Ryan Mullen (who believes racing on the Trek Speed Concept will make him considerably quicker when time trialling) should spell more results in 2018 but there remains the obvious threat of yet another season without a major victory to celebrate.

Page 2 of 2Who will rise and who will fall in 2018?