EF Education First Pro Cycling Team Season Review
Updated: Dec 29, 2019
It was a bright spring for EF, the pre-season saw the move of Alberto Bettiol back into the team which proved absolutely fundamental, with Sep Vanmarcke and Sebastian Langeveld struggling with consistency and crashes, in the cobbled races which didn't start off the best way it wasn't looking bright, although Bettiol showed in E3 he had the legs for something big as he finished fourth although the next two races didn't go so well in Flandres it all came together and it wasn't by luck or even opportunity, it was by pure power as Sep Vanmarcke set up a huge move in the Oude Kwaremont that gave the team it's first monument since 2014 which completed their spring although Sep Vanmarcke still had a strong Paris-Roubaix to finish fourth.
In the other classics though it wasn't bad at all, Simon Clarke was on fire this season as he net Top10's in Strade Biache and Milano Sanremo and topped it off with a brilliant second in Amstel Gold Race, and Michael Woods completed the Ardennes with a fifth place in Liège.
With a reinvigorated motivation in the team the results were also evident in the stage-races, with early stage wins in Herald Sun Tour, Haut Var and Colombia where their new TT bike was really previewing what would be an amazing evolution in the team's TT's in every sense for the year. Some overall results in February leading to Paris-Nice where Uran got injured, Martinez took a stage and then Clarke, Woods and Carthy kept netting some strong performances. In May the team had a new name in Sergio Higuita who immediately had an amazing California race were he finished second, Tejay van Garderen also flew for a second place in the Dauphiné and Carthy took an epic win in Suisse. Higuita, Clarke and Vanmarcke kept the results coming throughout August alongside a couple wins in Utah.
In the Giro Tanel Kangert had a crash dropping his GC chances but the surprise was in Hugh Carthy, his potential was always there but it was an amazing display to see the Brit flying in the steep climbs well into the race, if it weren't for a dreadful day in Lago Serru he would've finished well inside the Top10.
At the Tour Rigoberto Uran came back after injury and had a pretty good and consistent race to finish seventh, there were no big sparks of brilliancy from the team throughout the race but they did the job very well and kept Uran safe throughout the three weeks in the flats and the mountains, and to finish it off the Vuelta was a whirlwind of emotions, Uran was looking very good until he had a devastating crash and had to abandon as did Hugh Carthy and just a couple of days later also Tejay van Garderen had to abandon. It were some brutal days for the team, Dani Martinez was out of form after a bout of ilness and Sergio Higuita was also looking fatigued from the season, that is until he didn't and he won in amazing fashion stage 18 with a 50Km solo making for a strong Grand Tour debut for the Colombian.
Woods and Hofland entered the team's name in the post-Tour classics early on, Sep Vanmarcke came back with a stunning performance to win the Bretagne Classic, Bettiol and Woods showed some legs in Canada before Woods came to life in his true colours by winning Milano-Torino, he was strong overall throughout all the Italian Autumn classics alongside Sergio Higuita which was topped off with a fifth place in Lombardia and Dan McLay on a surprise win in Guangxi adding to Dani Martinez' second place overall.
Wins (WT): 17 (6)
Highlight: Bettiol's in the the Ronde
Best Performer: Michael Woods
Biggest Surprise: Sergio Higuita
Negative Surprise: Taylor Phinney