The WorldTour Points Shuffle
It takes more than points to make it to the WorldTour.
them. Despite that, and there was probably more we’ll never know of, he still defends him.
What it comes down to is the all-important Tour de France invitation. Teams live and die by that invite. Saxo-Tinkoff is in a sticky situation. In their ranks they have a rider (Contador) who, barring an unforeseen accident, is a five-star favorite to win the 2013 Tour de France. Defending champion Bradley Wiggins is already making plans to skip France in July and instead focus on the 2013 Giro d’Italia, leaving teammate Chris Froome to fly the Team Sky banner. And that makes sense. Froome is a more explosive climber, a la El Pistolero, than Wiggo’s diesel-like style of climbing. Plus the Tour isn’t so time trial favorable. But let’s get back to Saxo-Tinkoff’s problem.
There’s a stipulation in the rules regarding a rider returning from a doping suspension – for a period of two years any WorldTour points earned by that rider don’t count toward the team’s total points sum. This WorldTour point total is what the A.S.O. (Amaury Sport Organisation) uses as the benchmark to invite teams to the Tour de France. Without Contador’s points, Saxo-Tinkoff sits in 20th place on the team rankings. Ouch!
So there’s a real possibility that a major Tour favorite will not line up in Corsica come June. They’re in the basement of the WorldTour rankings, but at least Saxo-Tinkoff has some company: Team Argos-Shimano. The last spot in the WorldTour, which includes a definite Tour invitation, is going to go to one of these two teams. Think “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and the Golden Ticket is the Tour invite. Who will get it? Let’s check under the hood of each team.
Other than Contador, Saxo-Tinkoff signed Nicholas Roche. While not a grand tour winner like his old man, he should be a threat in some ten-day races. Roman Kreuziger is also joining Team Eagle. He’s a stage winner in the Giro d’Italia and can climb – a perfect complement to Contador. Contador, Roche, and Kreuziger make a formable Tour squad. And for the Americans we have the always popular Timmy Duggan as a late joiner. Those are the positives, what about the negatives?
In his book, “The Secret Race” Tyler Hamilton claims that team director Bjarne Riis introduced him to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, who was part of Operation Puerto. The rub is that Riis denies that ever happening. So that’s kinda awkward...
Also awkward is that Riis buddied up with Oleg Tinkoff who, according to Hamilton, encouraged his riders to dope when he owned the Tinkoff Credit Systems team.
Argos-Shimano doesn’t have a Tour general classification contender. Instead they have sprinters who could snag stage wins. John Degenkolb won five Vuelta a Espana stages in this year’s edition. Also on the team is Marcel Kittel who has 13 lucky wins in 2012. Between the two of them, they ought to get a least get one opportunistic stage win.
The team that receives the last WorldTour team invitation doesn’t receive the Golden Ticket strictly on points. There is