Born in 2005 under the name Shimano-Memory Corp as the result of the merger of the Netherlands' Bankgiroloterij and Japan's Shimano, the originally Dutch team managed by Iwan Spekenbrink spent six years making progress with the return of tool manufacturer Skil, which had already sponsored Sean Kelly's team in the 1980s. Hence the remake of a vintage jersey. But in 2012, the support of the oil company Argos North Sea Group propelled the squad to a whole new level. It then flew the flag for the world's largest bicycle manufacturer (6 million sold every year), the aptly named Taiwanese company Giant, for several seasons. In 2016, the team moved its registration to Germany and is now sponsored by the Sunweb brand, a specialist in holidays in the sun.
Its Tour de France debut in 2009 was an emotional one, with the motivation of little-known French riders who had been forgotten by the big teams (including Cyril Lemoine, third in stage 3), lion-hearted sprinter Kenny van Hummel's tribulation in the mountains, and the flashes of brilliance of Japan's Fumiyuki Beppu, seventh in Aubenas and again on the attack on the Champs-Élysées, which earned him the combativity award for that stage.
Invited for the second time in 2012, Argos, still with the same Japanese co-sponsor Shimano, placed all its hopes on its young sprinter Marcel Kittel, diminished from the start by gastroenteritis. He exacted revenge big time in 2013, taking four stage wins, including the opener in Bastia, with the yellow jersey as a bonus, as well as the final and most prestigious stage on the Champs-Élysées. The German toppled Mark Cavendish from the throne with another four stages in 2014, including the opener and the closer. Absent from the Tour in 2015 before leaving in 2016 and imitated by fellow speedster John Degenkolb, who moved to Trek–Segafredo following a 2016 season badly disrupted by a terrible collective training accident, Kittel left a big void for the team regarding participation in the bunch sprints. However, Australian power sprinter Michael Matthews (green jersey) and French climber Warren Barguil (polka-dot jersey) more than filled his shoes thanks to their secondary classification victories and two stage wins apiece, even though team leader Tom Dumoulin was on a break after winning the 100th Giro. This time round, Sunweb is eyeing a prize even bigger than the polka-dot jersey —the yellow jersey, which it hopes to win with Dumoulin. And, of course, Matthews is still there to take the fight to Sagan.
Stage wins: 15
Secondary classification wins: 3
Yellow jerseys: 2
2: The number of distinctive jerseys room-mates Warren Barguil (polka-dot) and Michael Matthews (green) took home in 2017.
6 July 2009: Cyril Lemoine finishes third in La Grande-Motte, just behind Mark Cavendish and Thor Hushovd, thereby clinching Skil-Shimano's first top 3 stage finish in the Tour.
29 June 2013: in the unusual setting of a Grand Start in Corsica, Marcel Kittel's tremendous class is laid bare for all to see, shortly after the organisers manage to move the Orica-GreenEDGE bus, which has got stuck under the finish line gantry.
5 July 2014: Ji Cheng, riding in Giant-Shimano colours, becomes the first Chinese cyclist to start the Tour.
Receive exclusive news about the Tour