The Relegation Countdown

The Eneco Tour starts today and it’s the penultimate World Tour race ahead of the Tour of Lombardy on 1 October. As things stand Dimension Data face losing their spot in the World Tour for 2016 and team manager Doug Ryder is even talking about legal action to stay up. Here’s a closer look at the promotion and relegation process, why it’s all bubbled up so suddenly and an explainer why Dimension Data’s five Tour de France stage wins are not enough.

As a reminder or explainer the World Tour has 18 teams and the UCI has announced it will have 17 teams in 2017 “with the objective to reach 16 a year later”.

So that means 18 teams go down to 17, normally not a problem given Tinkoff and IAM Cycling are both stopping and Bora-Argon 18 is going to become Bora-Hansgrohe and wants a World Tour licence so that’s 18 minus two plus one: 17 teams. Only the equilibrium is broken by the arrival of the new Bahrain Merida squad and there are now 18 teams aiming for 17 places.

How to get a World Tour spot
Teams get a World Tour licence by fulfilling four criteria: admin, financial, ethical and sporting. The first three overlap and relate to the team proving its got the budget and the internal controls to operate without hiccups. The sporting aspect is based on the team’s ranking in the UCI World Tour team ranking. This ranking is based on the individual rankings where the points accrued by the five best riders of each team are added together to get the team ranking. The individual rankings themselves are based on points earned in World Tour races only and in turn these points are awarded for wins and placing in races, there are no points for wearing, say, the yellow jersey in the Tour de France or winning the points competition in the Vuelta a España. You can see the full points scale here but the summary version is that a few stealthy places on the overall classification of a stage race can earn a team a lot of points, for example finish 11th overall in the Tour de France and you earn as much as winning two stages in the same race.

The top-16 existing teams on the UCI World Tour team ranking qualify automatically on the sporting factor; as long as they satisfy the admin, ethical and financial criteria they can continue to have a World Tour licence.

The drop zone
The other teams have to meet the admin, ethical and financial criteria and are then judged on their ranking position for the 2016 season. Here they either apply to be ranked on points score of their five best riders during the season past or to be ranked on the basis of their new signings for 2017, for example Bora will put forward their rankings with signings like Peter Sagan and Rafał Majka, Sagan alone brings enough points to, as of today, rank as the eighth best team. Bahrain-Merida can only apply on the basis of their new riders.

4 x 20 = 80 points
4 x 20 = 80 points

Dimension Data are facing the drop. Their five best riders are Mark Cavendish (80 points), Edvald Boasson Hagen (72), Nathan Haas (53), Kanstantin Siutsou (40) and Stephen Cummings (38) which adds up to 283 points putting them last in the rankings and by some margin. By contrast Cannondale-Drapac have yet to win a race in the World Tour this year but their Italian rider Alberto Bettiol has still managed to score 185 points, more than Cavendish and Cummings combined.

Down but not out
Down but not out

Dimension Data can still score points to move up but this is more in realm of the arithmetically possible rather than the achievable or likely. Dimension Data team manager Doug Ryder is even talking about seizing the Court of Arbitration for Sport if the team is relegated reports Independent Online, a South African website:

We will fight it, so we will go to the PCC which is the professional cycling council and the licence commission that issues licences on behalf of the UCI… …If we fail, we will go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) because we are an ethical, honest team

It would not be the first time a team has used the CAS to get in the World Tour since Katusha appealed but it’s hard to see what grounds Ryder could use.

Same but different
None of this is new. For years many have lamented the points structure’s perverse incentives with riders and teams playing it safe to bank points rather than win. Defending 7th or 11th place on GC can become a valuable goal and discourages spectacular attacks and tactical risk taking. What’s newer is the move to rank teams on the basis of five riders only, a good idea since it means a lot of the team are freed from the tyranny of chasing points and even riding against each other. But what’s tipped the balance is late the arrival of a new team in Bahrain-Merida and the continuation of Lampre under new Chinese management. None of this scenario was known mid-season and it’s meant that the struggle to avoid relegation has only become an issue late into the season, as if some trapdoor has only been discovered this summer. This has caused a bidding war for riders with points and has helped encourage riders like Ben Swift (92 points) to move to Lampre.

The moral of the story is that points hunting comes in many forms and five stage wins of the Tour de France are not sufficient to keep Dimension Data in the World Tour. They can try to sign a rider with a lot of points but face competition from others, they can try suing but it’s hard to see this working. The rules are clear when it comes to the sporting criteria so it can be argued that the teams know on what grounds they’ll be assessed for 2017 but the move to shrink to 17 teams was only publicly confirmed in June and it was even later than that we’re seeing a rush for a World Tour spot, mid-season we knew Tinkoff and IAM Cycling were going and Bahrain was coming but we didn’t know Bora was going to be supersized and that Bahrain would be built independently of the Lampre team.

153 thoughts on “The Relegation Countdown”

  1. How many of the grand tours have wildcard spaces, it seems improbable that DiData wouldn’t be offered one for Le Tour if Cavendish is fit to ride. I remember reading / hearing a good piece on the world tour and how some teams found it to be a financial millstone and they’d rather not shoulder that expensive and take their chances with wild card slots.

    • Very true but it’s a prestige thing for some, the likes of Deloitte might frown on sponsoring a team that’s just been dropped etc, it’s hard – but not impossible – to explain this subtlety and nuance to VIPs.

      • …and “we will definitely be in the Tour, P-R, RVV, Giro etc” is a lot more attractive and valuable to sponsors than “we reckon we’re pretty likely to be invited”.

      • But isn’t that how DD got the WT spot in the first place? They were “lucky” that there were not enough teams at the time.

        Any sponsor that steps into bed with a team that got their “premier league” spot by luck, can’t expect that luck to continue for ever, right? But of course, CEOs of big multinationals don’t think that way.

    • Remember Cippollini ? His team did not get invited a few times because they knew he would not start with the intent to finish the race – Cavendish did the same this year. It can happen again.

      • Bit of a difference between Cipo and Cav though, since 2009 Cavendish has DNF’d the Tour twice, once because of the Olympics and once because he got injured. It’s unlikely he willingly steps off before the end again in his career if only because he’s chasing Merckx’s stage win record.

      • Cavendish stepped off because of the Olympics, a special circumstance.

        ASO adore Cavendish – he’s part of their palmares as much as they’re part of his. Dimension Data would get the invite as long as he’s fit.

      • It is how the rules stand and the UCI make those rules and are, therefore, wholly responsible for this disgrace. Team Torture (thanks Sam) is yet another blight on cycling.
        As you say in the article, we’ve all known that this points system was a nonsense for some time. But it’s the UCI so it’s a farce. Nothing changes in cycling, as recent news events have shown.

        • I don’t see how one can make the case that the UCI – should take the lead on ethics. If there was an international body suggesting that they should be bared from supporting athletics, then obviously it would sense to follow that.

          What about companies that do work in Bahrain; let us know when you feel it is right boycott the airlines flying there:
          Air France
          British Airways
          Cathay Pacific
          United Airlines

    • I find it a bit funny, that cycling fans here care about human rights situation in Bahrain only cause there is an involvement in cycling now. I have contacts to Bahraini opposition and follow closely what’s happening there ever since the uprisings in that state in the Arab spring. Beside other Arab regime oppositionists, back then nobody in the world cared much about the Shia’s in Bahrain. They were like Iranian agemts in the mainstream media and nobody cared when Saudi tanks crossed the bridge to turn down the demonstrations.
      Don’t get me wrong, the last thing I wanna do is defend the Bahrain government. But if you want to establish ethical principles for involvement in cycling sponsoring, then talk about everyone, every capitalist company with blood on their hands or horrible environmental records, opression on workers, unions and so on. there are enough hidden skeletons buried. But they’re not Arabs/muslims/Russians or whatever public enemy of popular choice at the moment is.

  2. Since everything in cycling is a movable feast, it seems entirely possible that they won’t drop down to 17 teams next season.

    But beyond the poor way the points are allocated, I do think that if you’re going to have a relegation (or promotion) system, then the rules and the opportunities need to be made clear at the outset of the season, since you’re likely to tactically change the way you race. If the EPL suddenly decided half-way through the football season that four clubs instead of three were being relegated, there’d be uproar and you can be certain, lots of legal wrangling. It’s unsurprising that Dimension Data are talking in the same way.

    If a team magically appears from nowhere, it’s strange that they should immediately get into the World Tour just on the basis of their chequebook. I know that’s the way it is, but it just doesn’t seem healthy for the longevity of teams.

    While I’m sure that Dimension Data could get into most of the races they wanted without a World Tour licence, it’s imaginable that sponsors have clauses in multi-year contracts that let them get out of their obligations should the team slip down a division.

    • This ‘moving of the goalposts’ in mid-season could be the best basis for any appeal to CAS.

      The argument that cutting to 17 teams for 2017 offends natural justice because it was not announced and agreed by all parties before Tour Down Under in January 2016 is not a hard one to make. And CAS go quite big on principles of natural justice.

      • As far as I know, it was known well before January this year that UCI (possibly pressured by ASO) wanted to reduce the number of WT team from 18 (2016) to 17 (2017) to 16 (2018). What would be a case of “moving the goal posts” would be to all of a sudden stick with 18 for 2017.

        However, I indeed wouldn’t be surprised if they tried anyway.

  3. Interesting – so for example Bouhanni will (likely) never make Cofidis enough points to make the WT – not that I’m saying that’s their goal. Are Direct Energie close? They’re making fools of the rest of pro conti teams but I’d be interested to see if it would translate to this.
    I realize both won’t make it next year, just musing on the concept as it is.

    • Cofidis and DE are in a different situation to Dimension Data, as they are French teams with French sponsors and thus pretty much guaranteed a spot in Tour de France without having to foot the bill of running a World Tour team.

    • Re Bouhanni. I think in any other (non Olympic) year Cav would have netted more victories (e.g. By riding another GT) so its double bad luck for DD who must have allowed him to do the track at the expense of points. That said, the publicity garnered through Cummings and Cav has been very sponsor friendly

    • Bouhanni could win points which could count for the team if he won a lot of World Tour races, but as said above the team are happy without the WT spot. They’re guaranteed a Tour de France/Paris-Nice/Dauphiné wildcards and by sponsoring the Vuelta and Milan-Sanremo seem coincidentlally 😉 able to get invites to these events too.

    • The new World Ranking determines nations’ quotas for the men’s elite RR at the WCh.

      Unlike the WorldTour Ranking (which is restricted to WT races and WCh TTT), the new ranking also covers .HC/1/2/2U/NCup races as well as RR/ITT at the Olympics, WCh (elite & U23), various NCh and some ‘Regional Games’ (e.g. Pan Ams).

  4. The strange thing to me is that the ranking is based on results riders had, while riding for another team. It is strange that new-Lampre will reap the benifits of Swift’s points allocated while riding for Sky.

    This promotes buying a team over building through natural development. Riders are judged by their history instead of their potential.
    Maybe I’m exagerating a bit, but in essence, that is the case. Teams are not building the best possible squad for the coming season, but the squad with the most points in the current season.

    • Agreed. To combine to other points made, about DD not knowing they’ll be relegated mid season, you could have a situation where 4 new teams announce in late July they want to join the WT, then start signing the best riders with most points in August, thereby relegating the bottom 4 teams in the WT.

      It would seem fairer that all teams have to start at a lower level so at last you get to see as the season evolves which teams are building up and might challenge for a place in the WT.

    • True, but on the other had we came from a situation where only a handful of WT riders made very good money en the rest was on a minimum wage (exaggerating a bit, but not that much). This “system” (where points are tied to the individual rider rather than to the team as in most other sports) has made a difference in that, through making 2nd tier riders potentially interesting acquisitions.

      Of course, your objections are also very much valid. Maybe points should go to (be split equally between) both team and individual rider?

  5. If the shrinkage to 17 teams was only announced in Jun, then if the UCI know whats good for them – and the sport – they will resort to the their rule flexibility MO and keep the number as 18 next year. Alternatively, reject Team Torture.

    • Team Torture! That’s brilliant, I’ll be using that all year, with permission.
      And you’re bang on about delaying the “relegation ” because of short notice. Too bad sensible people don’t run this sport.

  6. Changing the number of teams to 17 in June is not only a problem because half the season is more or less over but because riders’ schedules for much of the remaining season has already been planned. For example, would DD let Cav race so many non-WT races had they known they were going to be in a relegation battle? Or signed him when his primary goal was the Olympics?

    • Good point. I assume these are the same folks who decided winning the Tour Down Under should equal the points for winning one of the 5 monuments of cycling – so don’t try to make any sense of their actions. It would seem that UCI might be gaming their own system here to create a fight to be in the top-tier. If they insist on continuing “Heinie’s Folly” they ought to chop it down to 12 teams and insist on some REAL criteria to get in the club, announced well in advance rather than halfway through the previous season. Wasn’t the last fiasco like this over 18 teams and they ended up with 19? Hard not to see ending up with 18 this time round.

  7. I read the DiData manager said something along the lines of ‘The UWT point system if flawed, on the CQ rankings we have 15th place’. Well no, that’s because the UWT points can only be gained in UWT races, so your wins in minor races don’t count. It’s a seperate league.

    That said, 5 stage wins in the biggest race of the year should count for more. There is still a general imbalance between GC and stages, for a top10 in a GC you get too much. Places 2-10 in a stage have next to no value but a stage winner is still a winner and should be rewarded lots more. It would make promote aggresive attacking racing too!

    When you mentioned Alberto Bettiol my first though was: ‘who?’. Just looked him up on Procyclingstats. He’s got a great second half of the season. Podium in Poland, Plouay, top10 in Quebec, Montreal. Big talent. Interesting to see if he’ll develop more as a classics rider or as a climber.

    • I have to oppose. Why should a stage winner get more points than anyone who finishes 14th in the Tour, or 13th in the Vuelta/Giro delivering performance over 3 weeks, while you can win one stage and hide in the grupetto the rest of the Tour? Would that be fair to those who fight to keep a place in the GC every day? I don’t think so

  8. There’s a reason there’s next to no future proofing or longevity in most cycling teams. When you can get halfway through a season to suddenly find out your going to be relegated because a rich playboy is bored and has cash to burn, why bother investing in the first place. Combine the UCI’s continued ineptitude and stupidity, with the moral blackhole that is cycling and you inevitably get shafted.

    The Points system is ludicrous in so many ways. But lets not insult Swift or Bettiol. The Italian did finish on the podium of a WT Stage Race (3rd Poland) and WT Classic (2nd Ouest-France) and twice more Top10 in WT Classics (4th + 7th Canada). Four really quite impressive sets of results. Whilst Swift was 2nd in San-Remo and has regularly been on stage podiums in WT sprints right from the start of the season.
    Cavendish might have won 4 Tour stages, but his other WT appearances at San-Remo and Roubaix and Tirreno were pretty seriously forgetable. Of the DD riders it’s EBH that loses out really, he’s had yet another solid season and his highlights are very good (5th in Roubaix is not to be sniffed at).

    The flip side to the DD problem is that honestly it’s never felt like a WT team. They have talented riders in Cav’s and EBH, but no-one else stands out as real WT contender quality. At least Drapac a few more guys you can consider leaders in Uran, Talansky, Bettiol, Rolland, Navardauskas and their second level riders are more suited. At least in my opinion.

    Dimension Data got complacent ultimately, and you can’t demand access to the top level just because you want it. They should be well aware of the rules and should plan for an eventuality of an 18th team showing up, whether than be the new Bahrain team or another PCT team wanting to step up and making moves on the transfer market.

    • Exactly. DD just doesn’t have it, beside 2-3 top riders, which are more sprinters. If their team is not diverse enough, they have to live with the consequences of the rules. Sad but true.

  9. It’s outside of the evaluation criteria, but I can see why DiData are fuming. A sponsor who has invested money into the sport to try and make it more accessible to fans, possibly at the expense of investing money into the team. And a team whose roster arguably does more than any other WT outfit to broaden interest in the sport. As INRNG has pointed out previously, the use of the term ethics is quite specific here which is a shame as I think most people would (in the wider ethical sense) think that DiData was conducting itself in a better manner by bringing Daniel Teklehaimanot to the start line at a WT race than in Bahrain-Merida wheeling out Franco Pellizotti.

    • Interesting point you bring up about how the ethics component is applied.

      I agree with you that this aspect needs to be applied on two levels: a) evaluating the riders/team structure, and then b) to assess the owners’ ethics.

      The most relevant question is whether or not the UCI and other teams (yes, include the other team owners in this) want to do business with the other owner. What does the owner stand for, what decisions have they made in the past, what current/future activities is the owner involved with outside of cycling, will the owner be able to handle a cycling team long term, etc.

      These are all questions that absolutely should be applied.

  10. The silly thing about this system is there are 376 World Tour points avaiable in the form of Rodriguez and Cancellara. A team could theoretically give them a one year contract with no intentional of racing them, just for their points

  11. I commented above that I think the WT selection process needs to change, and I implied that I’m sympathetic towards Dimension Data and I think they should be guaranteed a spot in the WT.

    However, the current rules mean that WT points are necessary, so why is Cavendish racing at Tuscany instead of Eneco Tour?!? Dimension Data can change their destiny by pulling in points, but instead they send one of the best sprinters in the world (Cavendish) to Giro della Toscana instead of the Eneco Tour. So, it is hard to be truly sympathetic toward them when they have a chance to change their status but don’t take it.

    • “why is Cavendish racing at Tuscany instead of Eneco Tour?!”

      Because he owns a house in Tuscany and wants to be near his family? Because he wanted to do the Olympics?

      He is by far the biggest name on a new smaller team, it is a bit different when your team has monument winners such as Tommeke, Dan Martin, Terpstra etc and Patrick Lefevre is the boss.

      I believe Cav is enjoying what is known as Player Power.

      • Enjoying player power for sure, but at the same time his team is risking losing out on valuable WT points… and therefore could get relegated. Where will his player power be in 2017 if he’s got a contract on a pro-conti team because he raced near his house instead of at a WT event in September 2016? Will his contract even be valid if his team is relegated?

    • Because DD decided to go for a GC result in Eneco Tour, rather than the off chance (let’s face it… the whole world of who’s who in sprinting royalty is sprinting in Eneco Tour) of grabbing a few stages. They felt they could get more points that way.

      Was that a good decision? We’ll have to wait and see. But it was their decision.

  12. And Astana?
    Astana 463 points: Vincenzo NIBALI 241, Miguel Angel LOPEZ MORENO 109, Michele SCARPONI 43, Fabio ARU 36, Jakob FUGLSANG 34). Without Nibali the team will have 222 pts. (more point of 5th rider ). Team Dimension Data 283 pts., but lose 40 points of Siutsou: 243 pts + 5th rider.
    With 4 riders: Astana 222 points, Dimension Data 243 points.
    It’s correct?

      • No.

        The Top 16 of the WordTour-Ranking 2016 are qualified. So Astana seems to be already qualified.

        All other applicants are qualified thru the points gained by the riders engaged for 2017.

        There is no such thing as a choice. Tiere simply two diffrent rules for to diffrent ways to qualify.

    • as i understand it, you can choose whether to be ranked based on your current squad or your squad for the year in question – next year. so both astana and bahrain can count nibali’s points.
      i think this is a new rule to safeguard teams from having their best riders bought out from under them and being left pointless.
      of course astana will be recruiting for next year too so there are a lot of variables to determine what points any team can count

  13. It was reported that ASO’s main objection to the UCI and WT was that it infringed on thier ability to invite teams based on thier view of sporting criteria. If it is the case that progressive reduction in WT teams was a sop to ASO then delaying that to accomodate Dimension Data would appear very hard.

    A second point is that the 5 rider rules will tend to influence rider choice for races and favour the potential 5 during races. This would seem to contradict strict sporting judgement.

    • exactly, you have to feel for the uci a bit here. they’ve been unable to do anything on the reforms most agree are required due to various arguments (mostly aso) and now they face the potential that the combination of that enforced delay and the compromise that came out of it will result in inability to do that. who knows how aso might then react!

      will be interesting to see how next year plays out with so many more WT races at which to score points, if points are again relevant

  14. “Dimension Data are facing the drop. Their five best riders are Mark Cavendish (80 points), Edvald Boasson Hagen (72), Nathan Haas (53), Kanstantin Siutsou (40) and Stephen Cummings (38) which adds up to 283 points putting them last in the rankings and by some margin. By contrast Cannondale-Drapac have yet to win a race in the World Tour this year but their Italian rider Alberto Bettiol has still managed to score 185 points, more than Cavendish and Cummings combined.”

    This shows how stupid the rankings are – 3rd in the Tour of Poland, 4th in Quebec and 7th in Montreal is solid from Bettiol, but Cavendish has 4 Tour stages and Cummings has a Tour stage, a TA stage, a Basque Country stage, and a Dauphiné stage. Bettiol’s results aren’t in the same league.

    • No contest in my opinion, drop Cannondale and get DD in. On the basis of my non scientific research of:- what the hell has Cannondale done this season??

    • Don’t forget Bettiol’s 2nd place in Ouest-France, you do him a disservice! But look at DD’s scoring, Haas only has 5th + 6th in the Canadian races and Siutsou a Top10 inthe Giro. That is not WT worthy either as far as i’m concerned, and being WT is about more than one rider and one race.

      • Agreed. And DD new the rules and the points system when they joined the WT last year. Not sure what there argument is. Their team is Cav… And very little after that.

    • Vedrafjord – Oh my, I couldn’t agree more – after your comment I went digging for details oh how Alberto Bettiol’s season highlights the irrelevance of World Tour points:

      Mark Cavendish – one of the top sprinters in the world, pins his ENTIRE road racing season on Tour de France stage wins – plus, traditionally teams have only ever hired Mark Cavendish for his ability to a) get the team to the TdF and b) to win stages at the TdF, therefore to gain exposure.

      So, the theory goes that Mark builds his road racing season around this, and gets back to top sprinting form, and wins 5 stages for the first time in years.

      Job done, Mark has won 5 of the biggest one-day races of the season for World Tour Sprinters, therefore himself and his team has done their job for 2016. Right???

      Not so fast, Alberto Bettiol, pretty much a stagiare is having one of 2016’s top-20 seasons! What? Who? You ask yourself. Alberto Bettiol, entered his first GT this year, barely made it to the finish, but did finish (yay!), and then didn’t make/was never going to make the TdF team this year, so he enters the Tour of Pologne. At the Tour of Pologne, on a brutal weather day, he jumps into the break and because of a crash and the abysmal weather, the peloton was neutralised, he finds himself in 5th position on GC. Then, after the time trial a couple days later where he had a very solid outing, but wasn’t really against the world’s top TT riders, he finishes 3rd on GC and gets a whopping 71 World Tour points!

      So, Bettiol and Cavendish effectively took away the same number of points from July (71 and 80), even though the quality of the results is astronomically different. Then, Bettiol tops his 71 points off with minor placings at 3 other races, none of which are even close to the prestige of winning 1 Tour de France stage.

      This is a total joke. As a fan, I can’t believe this is happening… well, that’s not true, as a fan of cycling of course this is happening, the UCI is a completely clueless non-profit (that rakes in millions for its directors, haha…. non-profit?!? WTF, but this is off topic) that has no idea whatsoever who their actual stakeholders should be. They are supposed to be fighting for fairness in sport, but how is it fair that Bettiol is one of the World’s Best Cyclists in 2016?!? No offense to Bettiol, but he has no business being ranked 40 places above Mark Cavendish.

      Cavendish has had one of the best come-back seasons in cycling history, and yet he is being out-ranked by a 22 year-old on his first contract, with no results to-date, except in a few random days in Poland and Canada where no one wanted to race hard because of the weather or because it is Canada (don’t worry, I’m Canadian, so I can feel free to insult myself).

        • Another way of looking at Bettiol’s score of points in the Tour de Pologne is that Dimension Data should have sent a better team to Poland. One reason why there are so many WT points available in these “third rate stage races” is, I believe, to raise their status in the UCI calendar and by raising the status to attract a better “field” of riders. If team managers are too blnkered or too haughty to see which way the wind blows (or which end of the hen the eggs come from), it is ultimately their own loss and their own doing.

          • Well… and that’s my point, the UCI point structure is ridiculous. As you put it, the UCI calendar was set-up as it is to raise the status of these races, but it shouldn’t be done this way.

            No offense to the Tour of Poland, but it has no business having this much effect on the season.

            You said: “If team managers are too blnkered or too haughty to see which way the wind blows (or which end of the hen the eggs come from), it is ultimately their own loss and their own doing.”

            In response, EVERY TEAM MANAGER SENDS A SECOND OR THIRD level team of riders to this event – nobody sends their top set of riders here. That’s why this race should never be given the number of points it is given.

          • And huge question – if the Tour of Poland deserves WT place, why does it insist on pretending to be pseudo French with the “de Pologne”?!? Strong stage races use their native languages, not pretend they are french! Giro, Vuelta, etc. The race should be Tour of Polski or something.

            The fact that it is pretending to be French proves my point, the Tour de France is better, by miles, and therefore should award way more points!

          • I’d say it would be “Dookola Polski” 🙂
            They have a really tough task in the shadow of TdF, only GC riders who plan to ride Vuelta and who did not ride Le Tour can sometimes appear. Giving the TdP another date in the calender would be a better promotion than those UCI points. Nevertheless their list of winners involves names like Vansummeren, Voigt, Dan Martin, Sagan, Majka, Ion Izaguirre. Sounds not so bad to me.

    • When you take Cavendish out if the equation and just compare Bettiol’s results with Cummings’ it really does underline just how ridiculous it is. Cummings has won in the big races and Bettiol has placed, not even won, in just about every make weight event!

  15. It does seem ludicrous, especially for teams built around sprinters/breakaway specialists. Will you get a scenario in future where a team like DD have a shadow team whose sole aim is to peak & pick up top 10 places at the Tour of Poland, Tour Down Under? Talansky it in races that barely register anyway, for the sake of points.

      • From my perspective there is too much pro DD kool-aid.

        You have team, DD, that got a WT license because there was no competition, they were then able to raise more money and went out and signed Cavendish. The best tour de France sprinter of all times, but unfortunately, they didn’t have the money to spend on their So. African Grand Tour GC rider, and support team. Last year they had a told of 165 World Tour points + Cavendish had 30 last year, and the other signings single digits. Basically a Pro Conti team + Cavendish&BH.

        So instead of building a strong team that could do well in the World Tour GC events, they gambled they wouldn’t be challenged on WT points. Based upon this gamble, they got lucky, by all accounts a much better Tour de France – then they could have reasonable expected, and their supporters got great publicity. Unfortunately, the WT season continues on

        If you were another PCT, or a new team looking at the points on June 30th, or frankly Jan 1st, it was obvious that they didn’t have a chance of collecting a huge tally of points. So what did their inexperienced manager do?
        – Did he consider recruiting some additional riders with points since it was obvious they might need a backup plan? No
        – Did he decide to send the riders most likely to collect WT points on events where they could help post TDF? No.
        – He knows that next year the number of races is going to require a team with multiple GC and one day racers – has he signed new riders no? No
        – Does he has a backup plan for next year in case Boasson Hagen or Cavendish get hurt or don’t have as great of years as this year? No

        I don’t want to discount what they have done – and especially the great wins that Cavendish had. The problem is that they were gambling on lady luck – and didn’t happen, it doesn’t help that they try to wave the Africa flag, but were happy to pay up for Cavendish instead of supporting Meintjes and the level he needed to be (maybe I am wrong on that). Furthermore, the whole Qhubeka story, is a great cause, but they are playing it up – ie. giving free advertising – but not money. The whole fairy tale, is crashing in to real life now – the rules apply to everyone, no more get out of jail cards for free, especially when you only had to sign two more riders.

        Luckily they should get invites to many of the races that they want, especially the TDF.

        I know this is partly a UK cheerleading site, but all the Bettiol Bashing is uncalled for, he has had a great season as a young 3rd year pro, he missed two WT in Canada by a couple hundred meters. Speaking of luck, Cannondale-Drapac would probably say that they had some bad luck with untimely crashes and illnesses this year, however their diversified strategy enabled them to do ok on points. Speaking further of luck, if it was Giant that was going to appeal to the UCI, they would rightfully have an argument, we should be happy that they are back to sporting form.

        • @Pax,
          Some very good points. I tried to say so similarly below but you managed far more eloquently.

          Perhaps another point is that the WT should be about pushing standards up, so that all its races are as competitive and attractive as possible, not just the usual hegemony in the ‘top’ races.

        • Hey, definitely not a UK cheerleading entry from me – I’m definitely not a Brit, and I’m not really a fan of Team Sky. I merely want cycling’s ranking to reflect the importance of the races.

          Secondly, in each of my posts that mentioned Bettiol, I never bashed him, and I acknowledged he was having an excellent season for someone at his development level. I merely compared his WT points to those of Cavendish in an example of how it is ridiculous (in my opinion) that he’s way higher ranked than Cavendish. Even Inrng alluded to this in his initial article.

          It feels like your responses to my comment are purely argumentative for the sake of being argumentative.

          I don’t care at all which nationality won 5-stages at the TdF, I only highlight the fact that 5 stage wins are ranked the same as 3rd place on GC at the Tour of Poland… In terms of prestige and exposure even 1 stage win at the Tour is watched and respected more than 3rd place at the Tour of Poland, let alone 5 wins… I don’t understand the argument that disagrees with this, please explain it in detail.

          Lastly, I know DD signed up for these rules, and I agree, if DD can’t be bothered to send a better squad to all the WT races, then of course it’s their fault they will be relegated and that’s that. BUT, I’m only arguing against the points system. I think it took a Bettiol/Cavendish/Cummings type of situation to highlight how ridiculous the points weighting is.

          Thanks, and that is all!

          • I’m glad the GC of Pologne get’s more points. It’s a GC for Pete’s sake! I find it ridiculous enough that Tor steges get more points than Vuelta/Giro. So what you want is, that the TDF, for years the most overhyped event of the cycling year, should get even more points, so that the focus of some cyclists/teams should even be more on the Tour of Boredom than on races who are mostly more exciting, right? I hope that wont be the case.

          • But who says prestige and exposure should translate to (or be related to) points earned? If that’s the case, you can just about scratch all points in all races, except the Tour de France which undeniably holds by far (and far and far and far) most prestige and exposure.

            If we start to weigh points according to what we think is a “better win” (more points for prestige/exposure?), then why not say winning a stage in the worst weather imaginable (more points for “rule number 5”?) should carry more points than winning a leisure ride in the French sunshine with only about 5km of real hard work.

            The whole reasons points are not fully distributed according to “historical” perceived prestige and exposure is to elevate the prestige and exposure of the other races. The UCI feel this is needed to build up cycling as a world sport. We can disagree with many of the UCI’s thinking on many topics, and I guess we both certainly do just that, but I’d say they’re correct here. You can’t build up the Tour of Poland by keeping it’s relevance down.

        • Pax, well done.

          I’m not a big JV fan but you have to give it him he makes do with little money. This while maneuvering in a WT mine field of UCI and ASO.

  16. By my calculations Lotto Jumbo have 22 fewer points than DD what with Vanmarke and Kelderman leaving. A lot to play for at Eneco… first blood to Groenewegen, but stages count for peanuts compared to GC which is what EBH is no doubt aiming for.

    • Just re-read INRNGs “Here they either apply to be ranked on points score of their five best riders during the season past or to be ranked on the basis of their new signings for 2017”. It that new for this year?

      So I guess this means LottoNL-Jumbo gets to keep Vanmarke and Astana Nibali.

      A strange situation where a riders points can count twice – once each for 2 different teams!

      DD are $cr3w3d!

  17. kermits IN pandas OUT, oh well i can always watch another sport next year! Sounds trite? yes it does but you see Mr UCI I can’t be bothered with all this points talk and I’m not a massive cycling geek, so if I can’t follow DD then i am off to watch…..

  18. What a perverse system. The fact that Cannondale, who have been a complete none entity for 2 years now, have managed to comfortably out score a team who won 5 stages of a grand tour shows how wildly out of sync it is when they haven’t won a single race. I’m not picking on Betiol but I can’t remember him being a factor in any race I’ve watched (which is a lot). What was he, 3rd at the Tour of Poland? Wow.

    • Totally agree – I responded in way too much detail above, but (and no offense to Bettiol from me either), Bettiol really is one of the top 300 World Tour cyclists this year. On one of the worst teams’ depth chart he’s on their 2nd or 3rd team. And Cavendish wins 5 of the most prestigious races of the season.

      Question to readers: How would you rank a TdF sprint stage victory? IMO it is just behind the 5 Monuments in terms of quality. The ranking is:

      1. GT General Classification
      2. Monument
      3. TdF Sprint Stage
      4. TdF other stage win / Vuelta / Giro Stage win
      5. Other top 1-day Classic / next level stage race General Classification
      6. Every other race GC or win

      • I wonder what in your mind puts a TdF stage ahead of a non-sprint TdF stage. Besides that, I don’t agree with putting major one-week stage races behind GT stage wins. I see it the other way around, and by far.

          • Right, I agree completely about the Monuments, Yellow Jersey and then Rainbow Jersey getting massive points, and then everything else being a lot lower. Well, I think that TdF stages should be on a 2nd tier. So, 1st tier wins get 100 points, 2nd tier is 30/40 points and then 3rd tier is 10/15 points.

            I definitely don’t think GC for minor stage races should get that much higher than 2nd tier.

            Anyways, this is just the basics of a framework. But, Monuments need to be at the top.

      • Sprint stages are won (usually) by the top sprinters on the planet, whereas many regular stage wins are won by breakaway riders.

        Ok, maybe I should combine 3 and 4 together. Keep in mind that points for 3-6 are relatively close. That is, you’d get (for example), 100 points to win a GT GC, 90 to win a Monument, then 20 points for each of the other types of races/GC.

        • …and a top breakaway rider is simply *superior* (whatever might that mean) to any top sprinter… the latter are the most despicable kind of rider, keep this in mind!!! 🙂
          Eh eh eh eh…

          • @CA
            That’s a bit of a joke, but their “parasitic nature”, so to say, isn’t hugely appreciated in sporting terms.

            Also note that they’re parasitic in terms of TV audience, too. That is, we’ve got “sprinter stages” because the other guys need to rest, hence the sprinters go on collecting their numerous victories, but if it was for TV audience, you should have them out of GTs… they typically produce the worst audience results (by far), often killing the average viewing figures of a whole GT. They’re pushed in image terms, it’s not like that they’re the ones pulling: it’s about *not* watching the race but knowing the guy because the media machine can boast figures and figures for people who just don’t understand and very often don’t watch (“why hasn’t Cav ever won a *#$%* LeTour? That’s bloody unfair!”).
            Which is fine, but it’s to be seen if the final balance is positive.

            All that said, I’m not favourable to eliminating sprinting from cycling, it has got a significant historical value and a physiological function in a GT, it’s part of the beautiful diversity of cycling etc., but let’s try to keep thing into perspective.

            Especially since *sprinters* are no longer Maertens, Van Looy or the likes, that is, very fast guys who could also do something else. In that sense, I like Cav for his track life, I blame Cipollini for not giving more to the Classics, I reckon that Zabel and Freire were more thn just sprinters, I appreciate and look with hope to Degenkolb or Kristoff… but let’s not get overexcited about the flattish Leblanc-nightmare which haunted the TdF for years.

        • I see more merit (let alone a better show) in a self-made victory on a breakaway, than in a team-helped sprint victory by a “top sprinter on the planet”.

      • 3. TdF Sprint Stage 0__O

        You’ll soon discover, perhaps, that cycling is more about difference than about ordering sets.

        That said, most of you guys are pointing out the obvious, and I can’t but agree about how distorted this looks like, but I’d suggest you to read again what Eskorrik Asko has written above.

        It’s the same system which or or less indirectly kicked or kept down races like Paris-Tours, Tre Valli Varesine, GP Marseillaise, Laigueglia, Burgos, Brabantse Pijl, Giro dell’Appennino, Agostoni, Giro del Trentino and many other races which are well worth way more than a TdF sprint, not to speak of Down Under, Hamburg, Pologne, Eneco, Canadian races…
        It looked so good for business, now it turns out to be a bit contrasting with pure sporting values. What a surprise!

        • I just re-read Eskorik’s comment – do you mean teams should send better riders to Tour of Poland? That is, pull some of their better riders from the Tour de France or the Classics to send to the Tour of Poland?

          Teams don’t have unlimited budgets for unlimited number of riders, so if you want better riders in Poland every July, they have to come from somewhere…

          Gabriele – if this is your point, I’m disappointed and I’d expect more from you. I assume most people here would as well.

          • The point is that creating a point value which differs from sporting value is a specific and intentional policy – which I don’t agree with.
            But it’s not like that it’s happening “out of pure chance”, and a good manager might react to the rules if his team is finding itself in a tight spot.
            We might renounce to the whole thing (I’d agree with that), but, then… sporting value isn’t just the political and monetary superiority upon which the TdF is built on – besides its indisputable sporting value, sure.
            People tend to struggle to separate these concepts… a sprint stage in the TdF hasn’t necessarily got a huge sporting value, not this year at least. How do you cope with that?
            The point system is arbitrary, hence it’s not bad in itself to use it in order to implement specific policies, and teams should react appropriately (otherwise, the policies would be just useless). Critical events are generated by the friciton between policy-makers and teams.
            What should be debated is the *content*, so to say, of the policies… but it looks like that it was all fine and good until someone got burnt.
            If we speak of sporting value, a team focused only on stage winning – no Classics, no GCs – looks pretty much limited, even if it got a few other significant wins outside the TdF (Tirreno, País Vasco, Burgos). Still not enough.

      • My points would be distributed like this:
        Grand Tour GC
        Bigger 1 week race GC/GT jerseys
        Grand Tour stages
        Minor stage race GC/Semi classic
        Minor race jersey
        Minor race stage

        I think this highlights for me the need for the big races to be set above the newer/less important races. Obviously this goes against the UCI’s plans for globalisation/money grabbing.

        • It should depend on the history of races. Het Volk, Paris-Tours, San Sebastian, G-W, the Italian one-day races, Amstel, Hamburg, and quite a few more, are worth certainly more than a GT stage. And usually a lot more fun. And these races are generally endangered (where is Züri-Metzgete?). Underrating them won’t help them live (or revive).

          • I was thinking the same even whilst typing it. Something similar to the old world cup for one day races would be good, they are different to stage races and trying to fit them all in a form of championship is unsatisfactory in my opinion. Even then though a lot of the races you have listed weren’t in it, and you’d need to drop the ‘World’ moniker to avoid the claims of European bias and calls for races in far flung locations. It is a shame Zuri-Metzgete is long dead now. It was a nice parcours and threw up varied winners. You would maybe have to have some sort of system whereby the Grand Tours and Monuments were stand alone (counting towards that world ranking thing) and you then had a season long series of the lesser one day and stage races. After all, you don’t want someone playing for points in the finale of a monument.

          • I agree with missing the World Cup, and with not liking it being decided in Lombardy as it too often used to. I think a season’s grand finale is really missing, kind of what the Critérium des As or the Escalada a Montjuïc used to be. A final criterium with only a fistful of riders, the season’s best, doing a sort of road omnium, but giving it the importance of a real road race, not just a crit.

  19. I must admit, on first and second readings, I agreed with every comment above.
    But then ( 🙂 ) part of me thinks, well, your team beats Manchester United in the league and it’s worth three points. Your team beats Burnley on a wet Wednesday night in East Lancashire and it’s still worth three points.
    That’s the point of a league.

    But changing the goalposts mid-season is obviously not acceptable. The sensible compromise would be to offer guaranteed wild cards to the three teams that presumably fail to make WT status.
    I understood that a proposed compromise of the new UCI calendar was that WT teams could opt out of certain races anyway. The teams can’t have it both ways?

  20. I have found myself a bit irritated when it comes to the inflating of the results of the Dimension Data in the comment section. It may be partially due to the general anglo bias of the commentators here, but maybe not.

    I think that results such as Cannondale’s, especially bettiol, should be applauded. They are lacking the bigger budget required to build a super team, such as Sky, or purchase a big name, such as Cavendish. They have tried to score points wherever they can. Those points may come from the less popular of the world tour races, but they are still points.

    Dimension Data, on the other hand, have been very anonymous in a large number of races. Yeah they have some wins, but can you think of anything they did in the Giro, for example. What about the Spring Classics? They definitely picked out their races to go for, but in doing that they lost focus on races you can score what are to a certain degree easy points. Cannondale did not.

    Dimension Data could’ve gotten some points at the Tour of Poland, but no one on their team put in the effort to come in closer than 45 minutes down. Bettiol, maybe as a result of wanting to prove himself as a young rider, rode hard on a miserable day and is being rewarded for it.

    I would say that Dimension Data’s low spot on the standings show that they have added the least to the largest number of races. That is not to take away from their wins, but just that they need to be more present.

    • I agree, if Dimension Data can’t be bothered to really try at these other races, that’s on them.

      I did however, take issue with the amount of points that Bettiol received for Tour of Poland versus Mark Cavendish’s 5 TdF stage wins.

      I can’t speak for every cycling fan, but I don’t agree whatsoever that Mark Cavendish’s 5 TdF stage wins are worth a comparable amount of points to Bettiol’s 3rd place finish on GC (plus 2 5th placings, and 1 8th) in Poland. Hands down, a TdF sprint stage win is far greater than 3rd on the final Poland podium.

      • I concur with you when it comes to occasionally strange number of points given to races.

        I would personally like to the Grand Tours more top heavy scoring wise. Points shouldn’t go as far as they do in the GC when there are no points whatsoever for other jerseys. That would have helped Cavendish’s case were to he have finished and comfortably taken second in the points jersey.

        I also think that less points could be given to certain stage races. All of the stage races need not be worth 100 points for the winner. They could make some, such as TDU and Poland, worth say 60 points. Same thing with 1 day classics, they are either 100 or 80, when P-R is much more than 25% better than former Vattenfall classic.

  21. “The moral of the story is that points hunting comes in many forms and five stage wins of the Tour de France are not sufficient to keep Dimension Data in the World Tour … they can try suing but it’s hard to see this working.”

    Actually, you covered the grounds for suing right here:

    “The rules are clear when it comes to the sporting criteria so it can be argued that the teams know on what grounds they’ll be assessed for 2017 but the move to shrink to 17 teams was only publicly confirmed in June.”

    The rules might have become clear by June, but the season was well under way by then. Most courts don’t like the rules being changed on a party midway through a process, unless that party has agreed to the change. There may be arguments about how different races are weighted (e.g., given that Poland is more or less by definition made up of second-team riders), the ludicrous idea of points won racing for one team counting for another, and narrow view of “ethical” criteria. But the thing most likely to upset CAS is moving the goalposts mid-season.

  22. There is nothing in the rules that states that potential new teams have to declare a year in advance of applying to join, so I’m not sure DD have any grounds to argue that any rules have changed. It just got a bit more competitive.

    Taking all the individuals and nationalities out of it, and just looking at what they have managed to actually win (surely the point of any race after all) , it’s clear that DD have had a pretty good year, that Cannondale have had an average year at best, and the UCI points system is complete nonsense.

    I must admit when Cookson was elected I really thought it might start to signal a new era of sensible (more) honest decision making, but I’m really struggling to see much he has actually done – apart from just not being PMQ/Verbruggen – which is a good thing clearly, but come on Brian…. I’m not one of the ‘just blame the UCI for everything’ brigade, but things like this just look plain daft…

    • It’s ok saying that but cycling’s model means that there can sometimes be a disconnect between the sponsors and the aim of the league – to promote cycling further around the world.
      If your prime sponsor is about the Low Countries for instance, and you want your World Tour to rotate around Belgium / France / Holland, why even bother to join the World Tour?
      Do what Europcar did and downsize.

      DDD shouldn’t have this restriction though, their sponsors are international. But the team has messed up putting themselves in this position.

  23. IF this was any other organisation then they would look to protect the existing teams. The WT should remove the 2 teams leaving (Tinkoff and IAM Cycling) to give us 16 teams & then add 1 team from the new or Pro-Conti teams looking to move up to make the 17 teams for 2017.

    • So we might end up loosing Nibali in the WT?

      If Cavendish (by far the best points scorer for DD) has “achieved more” then Bettiol this year, and as some argue that should give DD an edge in the selection process…

      …then Nibali has certainly achieved much more then Cavendish (and that’s with a broken collar bone for Nibali). So if we’re giving DD a free pass based on the achievements of one rider, then Bahrein-Merida should also get a free pass based on that same criterion? 😉

      • Just trying to remove the emotion from the argument & think objectively.

        When a team ends they should be classed as the relegated team. This year 2 teams as leaving therefore leaving 16. There should be no 17th or 18th team in the relegation zone for this year. Then promote 1 team into the WT.

        As for the Cavendish/Bettiol discussion, the points system (as in F1, MotoGP, World Superbikes etc) rewards consistency rather than giving big rewards for winning. WT cycling points should be based on prestige points system rather than the standard X-type of race is given Y number of points for this position (as in F1, MotoGP, World Superbikes etc). For example ask a rider whose 2016 palmaries they would rather have, Cavendish or Belliol?

  24. Whats the motivation to reduce the number of World Tour teams? What happened to the UCI global outreach. I think Dimension Data is the only team from the African continent. If the major reason to hire a rider for the team is the points they bring, then the days of building a true sprint train like Cipollini had, or a team leader having trusted lieutenants and domestiques are over. That would be a loss to Cycling.

    • I don’t know why, but it always felt to me that in the UCI’s eyes, the right number of WT teams was the number who wanted to be WT teams. It wouldn’t look great for the sport if they couldn’t fill all the places, and when it became clear that with teams closing down and not enough initially stepping up to fill them, rather than be embarrassed by having empty slots, they could say, “We always wanted 17 teams anyway!”

      Of course fewer WT teams means more ability to invite wild cards, and if those wild cards bring a little subsidiary sponsorship (eg Cofidis and the Vuelta), then all the better. And more than 18 teams would definitely cause issues with the Grand Tours.

      But 16, 17 or 18? It feels like an entirely arbitrary decision.

      • I think it’s become increasingly clear that the major race promotors have a say in this. They don’t want too many WT teams because it limits their wildcards for regionally important teams. I suppose 5 or 6 wildcards is the minimum they want to compromise on…

        • Yeah, I too think it’s a discussion (fight?) between the organisers and UCI.

          It’s abundantly clear ASO wants more wild cards for the Tour, which means less “automatic placements”

          It’s also clear UCI does not want to give up on “WT teams place automatically”, nor do the big teams/sponsors

          Easy and perfect solution: Less WT teams. Looked great when we had only 17 serious contenders anyway, and had to ask DD to be the 18th for 2016 (DD was gambling on this happening by the way, so it was certainly not against their will). But now that we have (at least) 18 serious contenders, this solution looks a bit less perfect, all of a sudden.

          • your both assuming that the number of riders on the road will be constant. What if the intent is to reduce the number of riders on the road, maybe in the name of “safety”. It seems there are always enough riders, but not enough sponsors. Less teams would mean a greater concentration of talent at the top, i.e.: premier league football/soccer. Or a more valuable commodity to approach potential sponsors with. Less WT teams, and still only a few wild card teams.

  25. The thing that bugs me about this whole points scoring system is the fact that the real workhorses of the peloton, those guys who work all day for their team leaders, don’t get any points whatsoever if they finish in the ‘bus’. No team would think of getting rid of their best domestiques even if they had scored zero UCI points during the season, so why do they not get any sort of ‘benefit’ (UCI points wise) from the hard work they do. The whole points scoring system is ludicrous and the UCI should consider something better. (but don’t ask me what)

      • Also the fact that only 5 riders score for each team helps, as not everybody has to have a personal score; some can ride for others. Which is another reason why it’s silly for a rider to be able to take ‘his’ points with him to a new team, but there you go.

        • that has been addressed with the new rule that teams can choose how to calculate their points, either based on the old team or on the newer one. Whichever is most favourable. It’s a silly rule too but it does cover that flaw in the system more or less.

  26. And another point……
    What is the situation regarding the top PCT teams. It seems to me that the likes of Direct Energie, Cofidis, Caja Rural do NOT want to be promoted to WT level as they are ALWAYS invited to their respective Tours and get all the sponsor recognition they need . It is obviously less expensive to remain at this level, but do they have to maintain a certain level of UCI points for their top 5 riders to justify their position or are they just getting in the way of other teams genuinely trying to improve to WT standard?

  27. This may yet look more odd if Cav ends up winning the rainbow Jersey this year to go with his tdf wins. Given the flat course and the fact GB will be one of the few countries with a full set of riders he has to be a contender. Perhaps not the favourite but definitely in with a chance.

    Would have thought there will be some akward discussions at the optics of the situation inside the UCI if they were to go ahead and end DD wt status on the sporting criteria after that.

  28. Anyway, can’t all this be sorted if DD finish 54 points ahead of IAM in the remaining races? It would be interesting if they showed up to the TTT in the Worlds and did well in that, as the deal both at the start of the season and in June was that the Worlds TTT would carry WT points.

    Also, it does seem odd that the assessment of the 17th WT team and the aspiring WT teams is done on the basis of WT ranking points, not World Ranking points: irrespective of whether riders can take ‘their’ points to new teams, that seems to discriminate against the Pro-Conti teams.

  29. Art 2.15.011a : “The sporting criterion is firstly evaluated with regard to the position of the UCI
    a WorldTeam or applicant team on the UCI WorldTour team ranking of the season just
    completed. The 16 UCI WorldTeams applying for UCI WorldTeam status for the following
    season that are the highest ranked on the UCI WorldTour team ranking of the season
    just completed shall be considered to have satisfied the sporting criterion.”

    Read this carrefuly : “The 16 UCI WorldTeams APPLYING FOR UCI WORLDTEAM STATUS…”. Tinkoff and Iam Cycling should be taken out of the UWT ranking (as they dont apply for UWT status), which means that all current UCI WorldTeam actually meet the sporting criterion…..

    Conclusion : Barhein team has a problem… not Dimension Data…

    • All teams apply for WT status each year. So in that respect, DD and Bahrein are equals. A lawyer could argue that Bahrein is not currently (in 2016) a WT team, and therefore should not be considered to “qualify automatically” even if they rank in the top 16 for “2016 points”, but I doubt that would hold up in court. The opposing lawyer will argue “This rules does not explicitly discriminate between new and existing teams, so we should not just assume the rule was meant to apply such a discrimination, if not explicitly mentioned. This defence (“if the rule was meant to discriminate, it should have specified so”) has worked in other (unrelated) cases.”

      Since Bahrein can calculate their “2016 points” based on the 2016 results of riders signed for 2017, they rank well above DD for 2016, well in the top 16 actually, and therefore qualify automatically. Nibali alone (241) goes a long way to beat DD’s 5 best riders (283). Because DD did not rank in the top 16, they don’t qualify automatically. Another option would be for Prince Whathisname Oilmoney to just buy the empty shell of IAM of Tinkoff for a few millions, and be done with the whole discussion.

      Yes, it seems very strange that a team that did not even exist in 2016 can have “2016 points” counting towards their status qualifications for 2017, but that’s the way the system works. I honestly think the UCI did not consider an over-supply of teams applying for WT status when they thought of this system, but it’s the system we now have to live with.

      • “This rules does not explicitly discriminate between new and existing teams, so we should not just assume the rule was meant to apply such a discrimination, if not explicitly mentioned. This defence (“if the rule was meant to discriminate, it should have specified so”)”

        It does explicitly discriminate: it refers to both WorldTeams and applicant teams and then treats them differently (if you go on to read 2.15.011b). Your second lawyer wouldn’t get very far without reading the next paragraph.

  30. So, first of all, a declaration of interest: major Cav fan typing here!

    Ebbe raises a good point above, in my view. At best, there are a number of significant uncertainties, at least in information that is easily publicly available.

    With apologies, it will probably make my post shorter if I reproduce the text of what appear to be the relevant UCI rules. However, I do not rule out the possibility that I have failed to notice other relevant material elsewhere in the rules.

    “Application for a licence

    2.15.009 A maximum of 18 UCI WorldTour team licences may be issued, where applicable, in accordance with the geographic distribution determined by the Professional Cycling Council.

    2.15.010 A licence may be issued to an applicant fulfilling all the conditions set out in the regulations.
    2.15.011 The licence commission awards licences on the basis of the following criteria:
    • sporting
    • ethical
    • financial
    • administrative.

    In order to obtain a UCI WorldTour licence applicants must fulfil each of the four criteria. If more than 18 applicants meet each of these four criteria the licence commission will decide between them on the basis of the same criteria.


    2.15.011a The sporting criterion is firstly evaluated with regard to the position of the UCI WorldTeam or applicant team on the UCI WorldTour team ranking of the season just completed. The 16 UCI WorldTeams applying for UCI WorldTeam status for the following season that are the highest ranked on the UCI WorldTour team ranking of the season just completed shall be considered to have satisfied the sporting criterion.
    (text modified on 1.07.11; 1.07.12; 27.03.14; 24.09.14; 1.01.15).

    2.15.011b For any other team applying for UCI WorldTeam status, the sporting criterion is evaluated on the basis of the team’s five best-placed riders on the «UCI WorldTour individual ranking» for the season just completed. The two teams with the highest points totals for their five best-placed riders on the said ranking shall be considered to have satisfied the sporting criterion.

    Ties on points between teams shall be resolved by the place of their best rider in the aforementioned «UCI WorldTour individual ranking».

    In this respect, a team that has participated in the season just completed will have the choice of being evaluated either on the basis of its riders from the season just completed or on riders contracted for the following season. New teams can only be evaluated on the basis of riders contracted for the following season. Only riders whose contract for the following season has been submitted to the auditors by 20 October at the latest shall be considered in the said evaluation.”

    OK, so, the main thing to note is that paragraph 2.15.009 lacks clarity in at least one major respect. Before that, though, it is worth noting that a maximum of 18 licences MAY be issued. This is a power, not a duty – so it admits the possibility that fewer than 18 licences will be issued in any particular year. As far as I can see, the UCI announcement that the UCI World Tour will consist of only 17 teams in 2017 was not accompanied by any changes to the regulations – so the references in the regulations to 18 teas have not been replaced by references to 17 teams. It may be that the UCI (or, rather, the UCI licence commission) considers that the power in paragraph 2.15.009 can simply be exercised to issue 17 licences in 2017. Or, it may be that the words “where applicable” are relevant – I cannot find any explanation of what these words mean and this is the where I think the paragraph is significantly lacking in clarity. A further point is that I do not know what “the geographic distribution determined by the Professional Cycling Council” is. (I do know, of course, that the fact that Dimension Data present themselves as an “African” team does not mean that they are, in fact an “African” team ). Can you shed any light, Inrng, on what “where applicable” might mean and what the geographic distribution is, or whether I am missing an actual change from “18” to “17” in the relevant places?

    Leaving those (important) uncertainties aside for the moment, I would agree with Ebbe’s interpretation of paragraph 2.5.011a. The paragraph refers to the “16 UCI WorldTeams applying for UCI WorldTeam status for the following year”. Excluding IAM and Tinkoff, there are only 16 such tams and therefore it seems to me that they should all be considered to have satisfied the sporting criterion. The reference here does not include non-UCI WorldTour teams applying for UCI WorldTeam status. This is made clear by the opening words of paragraph 2.15.011b: “For any other team applying for UCI WorldTeam status…”. That paragraph goes on to provide that the two such teams with the highest points total for their five best placed riders on the UCI WorldTour team ranking of the season just completed will be considered to have satisfied the sporting criterion.

    In a case where the total number of applicants (existing UCI WorldTour and non-UCI WorldTour) satisfying all four criteria is more than 18, it seems necessary to go back to the final sentence of paragraph 2.15.011. It states that, in this case, the licence commission will decide between the applicants on the basis of the same four criteria. Does that automatically mean that Dimension Data lose out to Bahrain given that they have fewer points (the sporting criterion)? I am not sure: could it mean rather that the licence commission has to give a full consideration to all applicant teams on the basis of all four criteria?

    The other point is that, on the face to it, the final sentence of paragraph 2.15.011 only kicks in when there are more than 18 applicants – which is not the case currently. However, without knowing exactly what the words “where applicable” in paragraph 2.15.009 mean, it is impossible to know whether this is an absolute rule or whether it has in practice been amended to read “more than 17 applicants”, simply on the basis of the announcement by the UCI that there will be only 17 UCI WorldTour spots in 2017.

    Sorry for length of post – I promise I am not Gabriele posting under another name (I love your posts, Gabriele!) And, whatever the outcome of all this, I am confident that Cav will be back winning more Tour de France stages in 2017 and future years!

  31. How one might interpret the change in rules as follows:
    (1) the June 23rd rule changes were approved by the UCI, likely including their board or equivalent – thus overriding/ updating the published rules
    (2) The rules seem to state that two teams can have the chance to move “up” or “down” each year – see 2.15.011b – “The two teams with the highest points totals for their five best-placed riders on the said ranking shall be considered to have satisfied the sporting criterion.”
    (3) Rule 2.015.011a applies to the top 16 – 1 = 15 “applying” WT teams in 2016, since they are reducing the total number of teams in 2016 from 18 to 17 (-1).

    According to the June 23, 2016 press release there will be an annual challenge system for the last team. It seems like the rules already had a “challenge system” for the two bottom teams, but it hasn’t been relevant until the reduction to 17 teams with 18 interested candidates.

    As Inrng previously pointed out, starting after the 2018 season they have the “right” to participate in all WT events the subsequent year after relegation, an appeasement to longer licenses.

    • Pax

      I agree that, if the reference to 18 teams is (by whatever means) now to be read as a reference to 17 teams, the subsequent rules also need to be adjusted. Reading the reference to 16 teams as a reference to 15 teams (while keeping the reference to 2 non-UCI WorldTour teams) is one possibility. But the other possibility is that the reference to 16 teams remains unchanged, with the reference to 2 non-UCI WorldTour teams changing to one. How is anyone supposed to know which is the case without actual rule changes being specified?

  32. If the ASO want more wild cards present why don’t they reduce team sizes for their events to make space for them? This would allow the WT teams in, up wild card numbers and make many fans happier.

    The current situation could give them the opportunity to evidence some commitment in moving things forward.

    Or are the team sizes tied up in uci rules?

  33. In principle, I think a new team should have to start at a lower level, if there are enough existing WT teams to fill the available number of places. That’s how it works in my son’s junior football, where teams come and go like in cycling. Let the new team prove themselves and then apply to move up in a later year.

    I do recognise that in the real world there are grey areas around what is a “new” team – and that it might discourage new entrants if they can’t buy their way into the top races.

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