“I’m really proud of the way the team performed this year,” said CCC Team sports director Fabio Baldato. “Losing Patrick Bevin and Alessandro De Marchi was a real shame as I think they would have been capable of some good results. But the guys stayed motivated and kept fighting every day. We didn’t finish with a stage win, but I don’t think anyone could say we didn’t try. We were in some really nice breakaways and close to a win a few times with Greg [Van Avermaet]. I think we will come back even stronger next year.”
The opening weekend of the Tour in Brussels saw Belgian team leader Greg Van Avermaet grab the polka-dot King of the Mountains jersey on Stage 1. The Olympic champion lives in the area, and he was able to give the home fans something to cheer for. Riding his TCR Advanced SL team bike and cheered on by the crowd, Van Avermaet attacked on the Mur de Grammont climb to gain the points needed to lead the KOM competition.
“I was very motivated to do something on my home soil,” Van Avermaet said. “It’s probably the only time in career when the Tour de France includes the Mur, which is close to my home and it’s always special when you get to race in front of your home fans, friends and family.”
On Stage 2 the team broke out their Trinity Advanced Pro time trial machines, along with their CADEX Aero WheelSystems and Giant Rivet TT helmets, clocking a solid 7th place in the 27.6km team time trial in Brussels.
In the following days Van Avermaet would continue racing aggressively, sprinting to three more top-10 stage finishes in the first week. The team also had its share of bad breaks in the opening week, with two of its key riders, Patrick Bevin and Alessandro De Marchi, forced to abandon due to injuries from crashes.
Week two highlights for the team included a top-10 finish for Joey Rosskopf in the Stage 13 individual time trial. The American rode his Trinity Advanced Pro TT bike with a CADEX Aero WheelSystem to 10th place on the 27.2km TT in Pau.
“I’m really happy with my top ten,” said Rosskopf, who was competing in the Tour for the first time. “It gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the race.”
Following the time trial, it was two grueling mountain stages—and German rider Simon Geschke was on the attack both days. On Stage 14, a 117km day that finished atop the mighty Tourmalet climb in the Pyrenees, Geschke made a move to join a breakaway group of 17, but the GC teams took control before the decisive climbs.
The next day Geschke had better luck, attacking again early and putting himself at the front of the action on a critical day for the overall contenders. On the Mur de Péguère, the third of four Category 1 climbs in the 185km stage, he launched a solo move 5km before the summit. Geschke built up a 30-second lead and over the top was joined by eventual stage winner Simon Yates. An attack by the Englishman proved Geschke’s undoing on the final approach to the summit, but the German was happy with his effort on the day.
“I had the legs, so I enjoyed the stage,” Geschke said after the stage. “There was of course massive amounts of pain, on the second to last climb especially it was pretty steep. But when you are on the front you enjoy it and now I’m smiling.”
The final week began with Polish rider Łukasz Wiśniowski joining a long breakaway of five on Stage 16 that lasted almost to the finish but was caught just 2.5km from the line. “It was my first breakaway in the Tour de France and I really enjoyed it,” said Wiśniowski, racing the Tour for the first time in his career. “We kept trying all day and eventually they caught us with about three kilometers to go.”
Van Avermaet continued making moves in the final week as well, finishing third on Stage 17 and earning the Most Combative award on Stage 18, a tough day in the Alps. Van Avermaet and his Belgian teammate Serge Pauwels, both riding CADEX WheelSystems and saddles, made it into a key breakaway that day, with Pauwels finishing in the top-10 on one of the hardest stages in this year's Tour de France.
The team finished the Tour de France the way it started, attacking on the final stage into Paris. Van Avermaet tried a solo move with 5.5km to go, but he was eventually caught by the sprinters’ teams.
“A stage win was definitely the goal as it needs to be when you start a grand tour,” Van Avermaet said. “We tried to do what we could and we went in the breakaways a lot. I was close to victory a few times, but it didn’t happen. This is how it is in this sport. It’s really hard to win at the highest level, but I’m pretty proud of what we did here at the Tour.”