Review of the year 2013
We take a look back at a 2013 season to remember for Team Sky.
Last Updated: 03/01/14 5:11pm
Team Sky's fourth season on the road came with big expectations and the question of how to improve on an historic 2012 campaign.
With a renewed focus on the Classics, and a reputation as the number one stage race team to uphold, Team Sky secured 35 wins on the year – their second best haul in four seasons to date.
The men in black and blue also collected a stage in each of the three Grand Tours for the first time, standing on the podium in two of them, including a new best result at the Giro d’Italia. There was also the small matter of a second successive Tour de France victory!
Despite a stellar year, the team were pipped at the post in the UCI WorldTour Rankings, finishing second in the standings after struggling to rack up points in the second half of the year. There is always room to improve.
This is the month-by-month story of the season…
January – ‘A winning start’
After a block of hard work in Mallorca, the team’s ‘Classics group’ made the long-haul the trip to Australia to compete in the Tour Down Under. Riding and bonding as a unit, the riders got the nervous wait for a first victory out of the way after just two competitive stages. Geraint Thomas’s solo victory into Rostrevor was set up by a stinging attack on Corkscrew Hill. After a stint in the leader’s jersey Thomas would eventually finish the race third.
February – ‘Building momentum’
With the Classics group moving on to Qatar, and the rest of the team seeing their first competitive action in Mallorca, the seeds of a successful year for Chris Froome were sewn in Oman. The six-day race has quickly become one of the most popular early-season events, with a star-studded field lining up on the Arabian Peninsula. Froome rode alongside Sir Bradley Wiggins and a strong team to send an early message to his rivals – winning the race in style, out-sprinting Alberto Contador to win stage five in the process.
Elsewhere, Sergio Henao claimed a long-awaited win at the Volta ao Algarve and the Spring Classics got under way with Thomas taking fourth at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad before snow put pay to Chris Sutton being able to defend his Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne title.
March – ‘Hot and cold’
March began with a bang as Richie Porte dominated Paris-Nice to take the biggest win of his career. The Tasmanian won stage five before sealing the yellow in style on the uphill Col d’Eze time trial – 12 months after Wiggins had done the same. Porte’s best friend Froome continued his momentum with a stage win and stint in the lead at Tirreno-Adriatico, before a wintry monument stole the headlines.
Milan-San Remo will long live in the memory due to the freezing conditions which led to a bus transfer mid-race in order to skirt the snow-covered Passo del Turchino. When racing did eventually resume, Ian Stannard produced a rousing, attacking performance to claim sixth place on the day.
The Criterium International saw a grandstand finish with Froome and Porte taking a superb 1-2 on the Col de l’Ospedale. Third (Mathew Hayman, Dwars Door Vlaanderen), fourth (Thomas, E3 Harelbeke) and seventh (Bernhard Eisel, Gent-Wevelgem) placings also showed a Classics squad on the fringes of taking a big win.
April – 'Wins on the board'
The team would have to wait another year for that elusive major Classics success as illness and crashes at the Tour of Flanders, and a lack of legs at Paris-Roubaix, led to a disappointing eight-day period.
Elsewhere, Porte and Henao added more wins to their tally at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, ending the race second and third respectively. A welcome team time trial victory (the team’s first since Qatar, 2010) at the Giro del Trentino set up a good week including a classy solo win for Kanstantsin Siutsou.
A mechanical on the Sega di Ala saw Wiggins’ hopes of victory dashed, with the Brit elegantly propping up his bike before a charge to fifth overall.
Henao shone in the Ardennes, taking sixth at the Amstel Gold Race and a superb second place at La Fleche Wallonne, before Froome rounded out April in style. Winning the prologue at Tour de Romandie a controlled team performance defended another stage race title. Froome was well on his way.
May – ‘Giro highs and lows’
Team Sky collected their best-ever finish at the Italian Grand Tour despite losing team leader Wiggins mid-race through illness. Rigoberto Urán stepped up magnificently to ride the best race of his career, winning stage 10 on the Altopiano del Montasio summit on the way to finishing second overall.
Earlier, another stellar team time trial victory catapulted Italian Salvatore Puccio into the fabled Maglia Rosa leader’s jersey. For a young Italian in his debut Grand Tour it was the stuff of dreams.
Another home favourite coming good was Edvald Boasson Hagen, who won a stage as he defended his overall crown at the Tour of Norway. The month finished with Thomas sealing second place in Germany’s Bayern Rundfahrt.
June – ‘3/3 at the Dauphine’
Renowned as the big pre-Tour de France form indicator, the Criterium du Dauphine was the biggest test yet for Froome and his Team Sky team-mates. The Tour squad was taking shape and wasn’t afraid to take on the race, winning stage three with Boasson Hagen before heading into the mountains.
The ‘Sky Train’ made their presence felt and hit the front, eventually launching Porte and Froome into a position of strength. Froome won stage five to move into yellow, with Porte occupying second – a stranglehold that would last to the finish. The race also saw Pete Kennaugh step up, earning himself a Tour place with an accomplished performance.
Joe Dombrowski showed glimpses of his climbing talent at the Tour de Suisse, before attention turned to Corsica and the Tour’s Grand Depart.
July – ‘Winners in Paris’
Another chapter in not just Team Sky’s history, but that of British cycling, was written in July as Chris Froome won the Tour de France. Claiming three stages (Ax 3 Domaines, Mont Ventoux and the final time trial into Chorges), Froome was imperious in France, winning the race by over four minutes.
The team faced a race made tough not only by the parcours, but also by accidents and tiredness, and had seen their numbers reduced to seven by the finish – Vasil Kiryienka missing the time cut on stage nine while Boasson Hagen abandoned after stage 12 with a fractured scapula.
The team were visibly on the ropes at times, with Froome isolated on stage nine, a day after riding into the yellow jersey. That didn’t stop the Brit holding on as the team rallied around him in the Alps to secure a second win in two years.
August – ‘Back in the saddle’
With a target of the World Championships in September, Wiggins returned to winning ways at the Tour de Pologne with a storming ride to win the final stage time trial – putting serious time into his rivals in the process. The team returned to compete in front of UK fans at the RideLondon Classic and there was another fine victory at the Eneco Tour, with David López bagging his first for the team in fine style. The Spaniard used all his experience to prevail as a break duked it out on the famous Col de la Redoute.
The team made their return to America for the first time since 2011 in Colorado to tackle the USA Pro Challenge. Josh Edmondson was the stand-out performer at altitude as Froome and Porte also returned to action after their July heroics.
September – ‘Home win’
September saw the Vuelta a Espana take centre stage but there was disappointment for team leader Henao who dropped time early in the race. The young Colombian battled through the three weeks in what proved to be a valuable learning experience. Kiryienka provided the highlight of the race with a vintage solo victory on the Pena Cabarga. The climb brought back good memories for the team after Froome’s rousing triumph on the same summit in 2011.
In slightly wetter conditions, the Tour of Britain finally fell the way of Team Sky as Wiggins produced the home victory the team had long been waiting for. Taking up the riding from the outset, the team of six rode hard and put the Olympic time trial champion in position to take the crucial time on the Knowsley TT. Taking risks in the rain, Wiggins pulled on the gold jersey and never looked back.
October – ‘Wrapping up’
The final month of the season saw the entire peloton dig deep to round out the campaign. Il Lombardia saw Dario Cataldo lead the charge but there would be no repeat of the previous year’s podium finish. López finished the year in fine form, climbing onto the final podium at the Tour of Beijing to claim third place.
The team’s concluding race of the year took place in front of a passionate crowd at the Japan Cup, with López again emerging through the pouring rain to take a top five.
Team Sky are currently training hard at the team's winter base in Mallorca ahead of the 2014 season. For an inside look at the team's training make sure to follow the Team Sky Facebook and Twitter accounts.