Cycling Season 2018 Hofs Thoughts
Laying out out some big calls for the Cycling Season 2018.
Chris Froome will get a ban, these cases love precedent, Ulissi had similar levels and followed a similar process and still served a ban. Expecting Froome to be out for 9-12months. As for how this affects Sky, short term it excites us as their other talents get let loose. Long term we may see Disney pull the plug on this venture.
Peter Sagan to not be quiet as good in 2017. He may finish the Tour De France this time, but with a child at home and increasing off road interests, I just can not see how Sagan repeats his constant success, for one the 2018 Worlds course does not suit a fourpeat. Expecting less success in the medium races he has thrived in, and perhaps a focus on adding to his monument wins and gaining a green jersey. Addition of Oss to his roster a big boost. So what I am really saying is, get used to seeing a little less of Sagan, but still expect some big moments.
2018 might well see a new Grand Tour winner. We had Tom Dumoulin in 2017 and he returns to the Giro, hopefully to do so a repeat in cleaner manner, but if he opts out to focus on Tour in end that race is rife for the winning. Over next 2-3yrs expect a change in the tide. Barring bad crashes in the Tour we should also see a new challenge for La Vuelta. Last year along with Dumoulin, we saw Zakarin podium in the Vuelta, while in the Tour, the biggest challenge came from Uran (who really should have won a Giro in his time) and Bardet (needs to improve time trials are fall on the right year).
Reduced team size will have little to no affect on crashes. We will continue to see race traffic causing issues for riders, but hopefully we do not see repeat of past years with a death and a major head trauma. In line with that hopefully Porte can stay on his bike and complete a Grand Tour in high position not seen since that very odd year with CSC that convinced us he might well be a Grand Tour winner. Hopefully cycling deals with bigger issues of Tramadol and other legal means of pain killers that are real issue for crashes in the group.
The annual jersey debate (let’s focus on World Tour for now). Ag2r looks like an ice cream. Astana is strange but as was in 2017. BMC has done a weird blue effect, theirs something to work with their but current form isn’t great. Bora look’s great nice classic look with few stand out colours. DD have gone little too white in my view, while EF have gone with the purple shoulders, i like it but the helmet being pink is issue should stuck to the green. FDJ is due a change yet. Lotto is same old classic while Movistar made a big change in their colour scheme, i’m very unsure. I really liked the blue of Scott before so sad see them go so dark.
Quickstep are still on the classic look, while Sky have gone overly white, reversing colours would have worked well. Sunweb and Bahrain see little or no change. Trek looks far too red and last years stuff looks much better. Katusha look like they just left their kit in wash with something blue. Lotto kit looks an improvement, slightly nicer trim and added rider number detail on rear is a plus for me. UAE no change but please work on your national kits guys.
The super team landscape is changing. Team Sky are seeing a buy out of their key sponsor. That will go one of two ways either they go look for other sponsors and Sky cut back, or the plug gets pulled altogether. Movistar are also less able to compete on lower budget as other teams are now keen to challenge them for Spanish speaking talents. UAE look like they are on way up with a big budget increased sponsor interest, they are still little off squad wise, but by 2019 they could present as a super squad. FDJ also signed up a huge 2nd sponsor, With the right attitudes their is huge upside if they are willing to reach out and take on the right riders from likes of Belgium etc and develop a more international squad.
Betting on cycling will continue its slow decline. Outside the big races, expect very few offerings. As bookmakers look to automate more and more sports like cycling will suffer. With other sports much easier to price, the focus is not on offering odds for stage 2 of the Vuelta Algarve. Do expect Belgium races to get priced just because of the type of market it is. Less restrictions on operating in Italy, Belgium, Spain, France would do wonders, but its long way off yet.
Signing off for now, please tweet me some feedback or leave a comment