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t-72

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3. and what about #joker Joker now?

I actually started the day with an idea of making a thread called "you must be joking" or "you must be joker" dedicated to our premier conti team (because all the other pro conti teams can have one, right?  :angel ) then choked on the morning coffee learning that long-time joker DS Gino van Oudenhouve is leaving, for Dimension data (..i thought that would be Stig Kristiansens plans, seeing the *no team bus at the worlds.)

Gino has been a key resource for Joker over many many years and is the responsible leader for the team's high sporting profile and high quality racing programme outside Norway. Of course, the riders at his disposal have been top national talent -  but also there is no denying the results they have achieved under Oudenhove have been great. He has been a very important person for the team, and of course, that poses the question: what now, team Joker?

There are things I don't know about how the team works. For a small unit such as a cycling team, good results built very much on one persons work are possible. When this key person leaves, they typically end up taking almost all the best athletes with them to a new team. Call this a person-dominated team (it is not unique to cycling, this happens in business too). Others build a unit with a strong culture that can keep creating excellent results even if the persons change. Most fit in somewhere between these two end-members, and I think that is where we will find Joker next year.

It is not just den Oudenhove leaving, there are a few good riders on the way out too:
#joker Kristoffer Halvorsen ----> #sky Sky
#joker Tobias Foss            ---->  #unox
#joker Vegard Breen         (retiring)
#joker Adrian Aas Stien     (retiring)


However, there are  a few coming in:
#seg SEG Racing                 Henrik Evensen     ---> #joker Joker
#tss Team Sparebanken Sør Andreas Vangstad ---> #joker Joker
#tss Team Sparebanken Sør Henrik Evensen     ---> #joker Joker

Then there are quite a few riders with an unconfirmed status for next year.
#joker Carl Fredrik Hagen   
#joker Markus Hoelgaard
#joker Bjørn Tore Hoem
#joker Anders Skaarseth
#joker Rasmus Tiller
#joker Kristoffer Skjerping (????)   awaiting announcements, his girlfriend just retired from cycling 

It will be interesting to see what happens with these riders, as their actions will pretty much reveal the level of faith they have in the revised plans for Joker next year. Could Hoelgaard go back to #coop? That would be a revealing move.
Some of the riders are now at senior level and may contemplate that it does not seem like they'll get much further and just call it quits. A good leadership is more likely to convince them to continue one more year, but Joker does not pay their riders very well and there is a limit as to how long a 20-something is willing to continue living on borrowed money just for cycling. They will need a job at some point...

There is a confirmed core of 5-6 riders for next season: Dahl, Evensen, Forfang, Knotten,  Vangstad, Skjerping(?)

Based on that list, and the long "not confirmed" this team could be heading anywhere next year, and then there are the rumours about plans for the longer future, involving Gabriel Rasch, which looks better, but also contradictory:
  • Sky DS Gabriel Rasch will be heading back to Ringerike next year and will take over the team Joker management, because his family is tired of all the travel days with Sky
  • Kristoffer Halvorsen signed for Sky to work with Gabriel Rasch

I don't know exactly what to make of this, but it might seem like Joker is headed for a less than stellar season (or simply a season lacking the star)  in 2018,  followed by a new rise to the top in 2019-2020, with new riders and new managers.
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