It is tools down as far as our World Tour contingent are concerned for the 2015 season. The last of the events is just about done and dusted and riders are now able to start thinking about kicking their feet up finally after a big year of racing. But there are some shuffles that we should be prepared for next year. We check out where our World Tour riders will be in 2016.
Greg Henderson – Lotto Soudal
As we shared just over a week ago, Greg Henderson’s career with Lotto Soudal is set to continue for at least another year, with the Belgian based outfit deciding to renew his contract through the 2016 season. It’s not hard to see why, with Henderson’s four years at Lotto Soudal seeing a handsome collage of wins go the way of his teammates; with the Kiwi fast man also banking one or two of his own to boot! This year a crash silenced his bid to complete the Tour de France for the third time and play a key role in Andre Greipel’s sprint train. But he was on hand to assist with the first of Greipel’s four stage wins; a career best for the ‘gorilla’. Greg is, quite simply, one of the best in the business when it comes to putting a sprinter in the right place at the right time. We wish him all the best in 2016.
Sam Bewley – Orica GreenEDGE
A two year contract was secured between Sam Bewley and Orica GreenEDGE at the end of this year; keeping him with the Aussie outfit through to the end of the 2017 season. This year has been a bit of a breakthrough year for Bewley, but even so there was a little bit of nervousness on our part to see what would happen. Orica GreenEDGE have been one of those teams to give hints that they are shifting their structure towards a more general classification focus in years to come with Esteban Chaves and the Yates brothers giving indications that they could be formidable grand tour riders in the future. Chaves was the principle protagonist with his fifth overall in the Vuelta a Espana, including stage victories in stage 2 and stage 6. But Sam’s work ethic and his driving nature for the team has not gone unrecognised, and his place with the team is one that he has certainly earned in 2015. Did we mention he won his first grand tour stage as well?
George Bennett – LottoNL-Jumbo
After a roller coaster 2015 season full of very big highs and very deep lows, George can now look ahead with confidence knowing he’s been through it all and come out the other side in 2015. The season got off to the ideal start with his first ever top ten position in a World Tour GC at the Santos Tour Down Under. Sadly though the NPCC saga that saw him miss one of his big goals at the Giro d’Italia came as a crushing blow. He lifted himself back up though and showed the kind of strength of character that many a team would admire to return with a spark to finish an attacking Vuelta a Espana with a fourth place in the mountains in stage 16. We hope that he will finally get the breakthrough that he deserves in 2016, he certainly seems to be in an environment where he is finding an ingredient we haven’t seen before.
Jack Bauer – Cannondale-Garmin
After his brutally frustrating finish to stage 15 in the 2014 Tour de France much was expected of Jack Bauer in 2015. His season got off to a good start as well, with his highest individual position in a World Tour event; eighth place in E3 Harelbeke, one of Belgium’s toughest one-day races on the calendar. Jack put it down to simply having good legs on the day, but he certainly showed us that it was no fluke as he rode to 7th overall in Bayern Rundfahrt. His selection for the Tour along with Greg Henderson of Lotto Soudal was justified, but it all came literally crashing down; as a crash in stage 5 of the Tour de France towards Amiens left him with a broken femur and an early end to his season. Hopefully crashes will avoid him next year.
Patrick Bevin – Cannondale-Garmin
The newest addition to the World Tour echelon is Kiwi fire cracker Patrick Bevin. When it was announced that he would be joining Cannondale-Garmin in 2016 it’s safe to say there were whoops of delight from our end; more the fact that it had finally happened. He has outgrown the National Road Series in Australia I think it’s safe to say, becoming an absolutely collosus wherever he seems to race. And he’s taken that form and applied it elsewhere to the Herald Sun Tour, Tour de Korea and Tour de Taiwan to name but a few. The question will be: where will he fit in the Cannondale-Garmin outfit? As a rider who can do a bit of everything, there’s something very Sagan-esque about his performances, but maybe going into a much bigger pond will iron out just where he fits best at the highest level.
Jesse Sergent – Trek Factory Racing
Bad luck sums up the season for Jesse. At just 27 years of age he has shown so much promise already, and in his seven years at Trek he has certainly developed as a rider. But 2015 was a season to forget as a crash in the Tour of Flanders would result in missing four months of racing. Since then this season he has been a shadow of his usual self, although he was on hand to ride to victory in the team time trial of the Tour of Alberta with Kiwi teammate Hayden Roulston. His world championships might have been one to remember had illness not held him back in the individual time trial. We understand he is currently in talks with teams at the moment regarding a contract for next year, but as yet nothing is decided.
Hayden Roulston – Trek Factory Racing
We say farewell to Hayden Roulston from professional road cycling for good. Alas the era has ended, but life on two wheels hasn’t as Hayden turns his attention to the track and the possibility of one more shot at gold with the team pursuit squad in the Rio Olympic Games next year. If he can do it, it will be the perfect swan song to the career of one of the most respected and hard working riders in the professional peloton. He’s established himself as a true hard man of the sport; selfless in style and commanding on the front for his teammates. Fabian Cancellara can lay much of his success in Roubaix and Flanders in part down to Hayden’s presence in the team.