At the end of 2017 it seemed the American bike racing team Cannondale had no future. The team’s manager Jonathan Vaughters couldn’t find a new sponsor, and a crowdfunding campaign was launched while riders were informed that they could approach other teams for a contract, if they wanted to. Then, at the last minute, EF Education First came in as a sponsor and the team lived on. In 2018, the team didn’t really achieve the results it had hoped for, but in 2019 they’re ready to play a bigger role in the major races. Time to have a look at the key riders for Team EF Education First Pro Cycling.

The main riders for Team EF Education First Pro Cycling: Rigoberto Urán

Rigoberto Urán‘s career has been characterised by major ups and big downs. At the start of his career he was earmarked as a major talent for the Grand Tours, and booked some impressive results. But he then suffered a dip: his results were unimpressive and he didn’t seem to be able to get anywhere. Then, at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, he came a surprising 2nd, after Alexander Vinokourov sprinted away. Urán had looked over his wrong shoulder and it cost him the sprint. A fall knocked him out of the Tour de France in 2018, after he had achieved 2nd place overall in 2017. Though Urán hopes to be on that podium again in 2019, the season has unfortunately begun badly: he suffered a broken collarbone during stage 2 of Paris–Nice on the 11th of March.

Rigoberto Urán during the Tour of Lombardy in 2018. Photograph: Cor Vos.

Tejay van Garderen

American rider Tejay van Garderen has shown on numerous occasions that he can perform well in the general classification of major stage races. You don’t get to finish 5th in the Tour de France twice without having talent. However, Van Garderen seems to be specialising in the time trial these days—and was particularly successful in the team time trial while riding for BMC in 2018. He is also riding impressively in individual time trials. He hasn’t announced his 2019 programme yet, but a combination of the Tour of California (which he often rides well) and the Tour de France seems logical to us.

Tejay van Garderen during a Tour de France 2018 time trial. Photograph: Cor Vos.

Matti Breschel

Matti Breschel was long seen as a great talent of the future. He is now 34 years old, but back in 2008 he got people’s attention by coming 3rd in the road race at the UCI Road World Championships, which gave his career a good boost. In 2010, he was 2nd in the same event, behind Thor Hushovd. He also won the Ronde van Vlaanderen in that same year. Breschel is particularly good during the Tour of Denmark, where he has won a total of nine stages. His main opportunity for success is being in a successful breakaway during one-day races.

Matti Breschel during the Japan Cup 2018. Photograph: Cor Vos.

Sep Vanmarcke

Sep Vanmarcke is the guy we long thought would one day win the Ronde van Vlaanderen and the Paris–Roubaix. But luck never seems to be on his side. On several occasions he has punctured while riding in the best group of riders towards the end of a race, ruining his chances. And on the one occasion when he did make it in the key position in the final few hundred meters of the Paris–Roubaix, he was riding together with a certain Fabian Cancellara, who beat him in the sprint. However, he’s still a guy who should be added to the list of possible podium riders during the Spring Classics. And this year is no different.

Sep Vanmarcke in front on the cobblestones during Paris-Roubaix in 2018. Photograph: Cor Vos.

Sebastian Langeveld

Sebastian Langeveld is similar to Vanmarcke: neither are just along for the ride. Although Langeveld somehow often fails to have enough for the final victory, he is always a rider who puts everything into his race. He has won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in the past. His role in the team will be to support Vanmarcke on the one hand, but he can easily sneak into the breakaway and create some fireworks. He’s also a real team player and doesn’t mind rolling up his sleeves and doing hard work for his team mates.

Sebastian Langeveld during Kuurne–Brussel–Kuurne in 2018. Photograph: Cor Vos.