The uniqueness of cycling is that even the strongest rider cannot win without the help of loyal teammates who will do all the dirty work for him. They will catch up with the breakaway, increase the pace for the attack, provide a good position in the pack before the sprint and return to the peloton after a puncture or fall.
Today we will talk about drivers who rarely or almost never win, but deserve to be talked about and admired.
Tim Declerk (Quick Step Alpha Vinyl Team)
Tim Declerc is the rider we most often see on gadgets or TV screens when we watch the Tour de France or the northern classics. The tall Belgian does an enormous amount of work in the first position in the peloton. It is used when you need to catch up with a gap or control the situation and prevent attacks while cycling.
It is almost impossible to imagine the current Quick Step Alpha Vinyl Team without Deklerk. In spring he helps Casper Asgren, Florian Seneschal and Yves Lampart, and in summer Mark Cavendish.
During last year’s Tour de France, it was not only Declerc’s team that needed to catch up with the breaks, but only he did it on every flat stage. “Gregari ” from other teams could not cope with such a volume of work and were replaced from one cycling stage to another.
For his strength and hard work, Declerc received the nickname Tractor in the cycling team. It is not the first year that he has been included in all sorts of lists of the best “gregars” in the world. It’s absolutely deserved.
Michael Merkev (Quick Step Alpha Vinyl Team)
A rider who knows how to close the gap at the right time is great, but a sprinter still won’t win if he doesn’t have decent accelerators in the last kilometers. This is where he comes into play. He is the Dane Michael Merkev, who has been called the best in the cycling
field for several years now.
Before the start of the Tour de France 2021, Mark Cavendish said that after the delivery of Merkev, almost any of the strong sprinters could win. The Briton was just happy that the Tour would go with him. At the Tokyo Olympics, Merkev won gold in the cycling track Madison. On the highway, he rarely wins, but he helps others do it. It helps a lot. The Dane is already 36 years old, but so far age has not affected him in any way.
Jonathan Castroviejo (INEOS Grenadiers)
Jonathan Castroviejo is the only rider to have had a great run as an assistant in the mountains in two consecutive Super Multi-Days in 2021.
At the Giro, the Basque supported Egan Bernal and did very well. He was never considered a pronounced mountain racer, but in Italy he managed to work wonders and win. Castroviejo pulled the group and stayed with Bernal almost until the last kilometers of the toughest stages of the third week. Castroviejo has long been considered one of the most useful riders in the peloton. He was especially good last cycling season.
What else should you know about cycling?
Cycling is an exciting sport with lots of interesting details to learn. Follow the events, get to know more cool athletes and become a cycling expert.