Even the most cursory of scrolls through social media last month would have revealed the tale of Redditors vs. Hedge Funds, and likely sparked a previously undiscovered curiosity in the stock market. Should we all be trading stocks? If so, which ones? And when? And why? Luckily, the world of pro cycling is a far safer (although sometimes equally as volatile) environment to invest your time and effort. But with the emergence of cyclo-cross sensations and baby-faced Slovenians, have you backed the wrong rider? Have the last three years of Tweets, bets and outlandish opinions been wasted? Perhaps you’ve invested some energy into championing one of the following riders. Is it time to trade them in? (No!)
When you probably invested: Mid-way through the 2018 Paris-Roubaix
Ah, we begin with big Nils Politt. Is he particularly big? Dimensions are irrelevant because he’s a German powerhouse and therefore “big” fits comfortably before his name. It was on the cobbles of Roubaix in 2018 that Politt transitioned from just-another-strongman to genuine springtime threat; all whilst wearing the colours of Katusha and finishing ten minutes ahead of his nearest teammate. He quickly became everybody’s dark horse for the following year’s race and almost delivered when blasting to second place between a pair of Quick-Steppers. His momentum came to a halt during the 2020 campaign (riding under Israel Start-Up Nation branding) but with a cease to racing in March and an awkward cut-and-paste classics calendar… was that really his fault? He’s moved to BORA to partner Peter Sagan and this seems like a scarily good fit.
When you probably invested: The 2015 Tour de l’Avenir (if you’re a liar), or the final stage of the 2017 Tour de Pologne (the rest of us).
How unfortunate for Jack Haig that he was born just one year after the Yates twins and signed by Orica-GreenEDGE as both twins began to breakout. It was the same year that another Orica rider – by the name of Esteban Chaves – took his first Grand Tour top five. By the end of 2017, Haig had emerged as an impressive young climber in two and a half years with the Australian outfit. The problem was that both Adam & Simon Yates (as well as Chaves) had been challenging for Grand Tour podiums. Last season marked his sixth and final year with the team and – despite gaining a handful of supporters and fighting for protected status – he was quiet since the return to racing. Despite just fleeting appearances in the spotlight, Haig rarely fails to showcase a total ease on the high slopes. He’s joined Bahrain – Victorious, who are a team desperate to mix things up. Now is not the time to abandon your Haig stock.
When you probably invested: The 2016 Tour de l’Ain. Maybe.
From one under-appreciated, young, red-headed climber, starting at a new team, to another: it’s time to review Sam Oomen. Signing with Team Jumbo-Visma is a cause for both celebration and a rather large groan. How is it possible that Oomen – who has finished ninth at the Giro – starts the year as the sixth best climber on the roster. Seventh if Tom Dumoulin returns. And eighth depending on the mood of Robert Gesink (Tweet me for my official Jumbo rankings). Despite a solid showing supporting high-flying teammates at last October’s Giro, Oomen had an invisible end to his spell at Sunweb and it’s tempting to “sell your shares” in favour of his ridiculously talented American teammate Sepp Kuss. Whilst Oomen will lose in any straight comparison to Kuss, it’s time to remind yourself of this 25-year-old’s achievements: 11th at Lombardia, top tens at the Giro and Tirreno, seventh in both the Tours of Switzerland and Poland, and a gold medal at the World TTT Championships. There’s also been whispers of a classics-focus. Keep. The. Faith.
When you probably invested: Stage 10 of the 2016 Giro, chasing Damiano Cunego over the top of the Pian del Falco.
You should absolutely not sell your stock in Giulio Ciccone. Hopefully you weren’t thinking of giving up on the 26-year old former Giro d’Italia KotM, but this selection is a loud blast to anybody who was disappointed by how he performed at last year’s Giro. His struggles and abandonment were underlined by captain Vincenzo Nibali’s lonely and tired figure at the front of the race. Prior to the 2020 race break, Ciccone was performing perfectly well and there is no reason to suspect that he won’t bounce back in the coming months. The 2021 Trek roster is lacking in punch with Nibali and Bauke Mollema likely to regress once again from their dazzling peaks. Ciccone deserves to be set free.
When you probably invested: The exact moment you gave up on Nacer Bouhanni (if you still believe in Bouhanni, you probably never invested in Laporte).
Is Christophe Laporte the fastest sprinter without a World Tour victory to his name? You must feel for Laporte, who spent 2015 to 2019 as Cofidis’ second sprinter behind a frustrated – and frustrating – Nacer Bouhanni. For the final two years of the Laporte/Bouhanni “era”, many of us began to realise Laporte was equally as quick, twice as strong, and three times as easy to work with. It was therefore a body-blow when Cofidis went and signed A-lister Elia Viviani in 2020 and attempted to mould a sprint train around his needs. The whole team struggled at the Tour and the experiment was a failure. And yet the 28-year-old Laporte he has plenty left to offer. At the time of writing, he’s just taken a stage of Etoile de Besseges!
When you probably invested: The 2015 classics season, or anytime he hasn’t been riding for Chris Froome.
Fact: Luke Rowe is the first professional cyclist to be banned from white-water rafting at stag-dos by team management (disclaimer – probably not true). After a freak accident whilst away in the Czech Republic, Luke Rowe suffered a career-altering broken leg. Amazingly, after missing the post-Tour half of the 2017 season, Rowe was back ascending Jabel Hafeet the following February. There is no questioning Rowe’s effectiveness when protecting his team leader, but a few of us have invested in “Rowe for Roubaix” and are still waiting for a major payoff. His performances on cobbled roads continues to impress but he needs a slice of a luck and – crucially – backing from INEOS. Listed as 72kg online, it’s clear Rowe has been asked to go uphill fast in the aid of GC leaders. But with INEOS continuing to sign GC talent, it’s time for a beef up and “Rowe for Roubaix” to get back on track.
When you probably invested: Any time during 2017 (and regretted it every day since).
Moscon can do everything. It’s reasonable to expect him to challenge for Monuments, Grand Tour stages and maybe even World Championship titles. Unfortunately, he’s another who might get lost in the INEOS shuffle. And extra-unfortunately, he’s a bit of an idiot. Oh, and he collected a suspension for ugly racist abuse of Kevin Reza. For many, it was fun watching the Italian pedal to near-irrelevance in just twenty race days in 2020. But if you previously invested big in Moscon, there’s plenty of time for him to turn it all around.
When you probably invested: The 2016 Criterium International (me) or later that year on the Vuelta’s Alto de Aitana.
The problem for Pierre Latour is that he is nowhere near the best climber currently in their mid-20s. And that’s the crop of talent he will be competing against at every Tour, Giro and Vuelta from now until his retirement. But, hey, it’s not all doom and gloom. For starters, he is a better time-triallist than the majority of non-specialists in the current peloton. On the right route, that’s valuable minutes gained. Secondly, he’s got a massive heart and a fierce rock-and-roll climbing style so ugly that the UCI may soon ban it. Lastly, he’s just left AG2R La Mondiale. For all the wonderful things AG2R did in the last seven years, it just wasn’t working for Latour. It’s virtually impossible to picture Latour taking a massive win this year, but he’s too good to forget about. Rule him out at your own risk!
When you probably invested: Tour de Suisse 2015. The Solden stage (and then maybe forgot about him).
Don’t scroll down. Hear me out. If you are – or ever have been – part of the Jan Hirt fan club, now is not the time to give up on him. He has recently moved to Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert-Mayeriaux (yeah, I’m never typing that out again) and will head to a Grand Tour as a free man for the first time since 2017. He looks the kind of rider to grow into a long race and it could be good fun watching him take a stealthy tenth place after falling into a third week breakaway. Of course, this probably won’t happen. But maybe we can pray for a stage win?
When you probably invested: Realistically 2017, unless you got really into the U23 2013 Road Race.
Your current view on Matej Mohoric will depend on how high you thought his ceiling was when he first broke through. Everybody will acknowledge the Slovenian is a threat in nearly every race he rides and just four months ago he came fourth at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. But slowly and quietly the buzz around Mohoric is beginning to fizzle, if only slightly. Bahrain-Merida struggled in both 2019 and 2020, and Mohoric was part of a selection of riders expected to deliver wins. He is a rider of multiple talents but that can sometimes make for a difficult career path. Nevertheless, don’t be distracted by all the new and shiny young things. Mohoric has a huge amount left to give.
When you probably invested: Trofeo Laigueglia or Strade Bianche, 2015.
Investors in Felline would have had a rollercoaster ride over the last five years. Or perhaps not a proper rollercoaster. Perhaps a ride that starts high, and then just rolls downwards for an extended amount of time, continually spraying you with water and asking if you’d like to get off yet. A large part of Felline’s struggles can be contributed to a parasitic infection – toxoplasmosis – and the promise Felline showed when winning the points competition at the Vuelta can’t have completely disappeared. At Astana, the 30-year-old Italian has begun to turn it round. The ride is starting again. It’s going uphill. We’ve made it this far. We can’t give up.