UCI World Tour Promotion and Relegation Weekly

The weekly look at the three year team rankings. If you’re in a hurry, the summary version is Cofidis and Lotto-Soudal are still in the relegation zone but the Belgian team is closing the gap to Bike Exchange-Jayco and Israel. Meanwhile Team DSM must be getting concerned.

What’s changed since last week?

  • UAE have scored the most points this season and in the space of a week took 882 points, more than several World Tour teams and promotion candidates have scored all season so far
  • Lotto-Soudal were the second highest scorers of the week with 274 points which allows them to rise above Cofidis, although both teams remain below the relegation line. Lotto started the season 1,128 points behind Israel, they’re now 563 points away
  • Intermarché-Wanty keep placing, gathering 192 points to bolster their hopes of retaining their World Tour spot
  • Promotion candidates Arkéa-Samsic are second to UAE in terms of points won this season, this won’t last of course as the likes of Ineos, Jumbo-Visma and Quick-Step pick up speed but they had another solid week taking 172 points
  • Israel got 17 points, DSM scored three and Bike Exchange didn’t win anything in the week. It’s just one week of course but there’s a pattern with these teams struggling for points this season
  • DSM have a good cushion from their 2020 season but they’ve lost five of their six big scorers (Hirschi, Kelderman, Matthews, Hindley, Benoot) from that season and haven’t hired like-for-like replacements

Animated bar chart

Press “play” to see the points race as a bar chart race, it’ll be more meaningful as the season progresses.

Background info
At the end of the season in October the top-18 teams based on the three year rankings meet the sporting criteria for WorldTeam status. Teams outside of the top-18 risk being relegated down to UCI ProTeam status which means they are not guaranteed to start in the biggest races like the Tour de France.

The UCI publishes rankings overnight between Monday and Tuesday. The rankings are compiled from the sum of UCI points won by each team’s 10 highest scoring riders for each season, 2020, 2021 and now 2022, as shown in red on the chart above. You can see the points available in different races in the UCI Points and Rankings Tables Explainer post from January.

21 thoughts on “UCI World Tour Promotion and Relegation Weekly”

  1. I wonder if we will see mid-bunch TTT trains forming to get placings alongside the main contest for the win in any one day races.
    Not a glorious thing to do, but effective sweeping up of points is how teams are going to avoid the drop. Sprint trains might get a win, but doing enough to get past the peel-offs with two or three riders can gain more points than the win.
    Also, look out for lead-out guys who don’t get out of the way and try to hang on near the front.

  2. All the teams have a big week ahead with two WT tours and lots to play for. Looking at two struggling teams:

    – Lotto Soudal have potential in Tirreno with Ewan for the sprints and Wellens, but in P-N they look thin and will be hoping for – unlikely – breakaway good fortune
    – BikeExchange have potential in P-N with Yates for the GC and mountains and Groenewegen for the sprints but little apart from Mathews, who won’t match the best sprinters, in Tirreno

    Trying to escape from the relegation zone while largely discounting 50% of WT events looks tricky indeed. Even PCT Arkéa-Samsic have more balance and potential with Bouhanni and Barguil in Italy and Quintana in P-N.

  3. Thanks for doing this – nice animation. Does a team like AF or another Pro Tour team have to accept the promotion to the World Tour if they finish top 18? And these are three year licenses so does this process just reoccur every three years or is there some sort of rolling relegation battles?

    • It’s a three year series, so get promoted and you have a licence for 2023,24 and 25… subject to meeting the admin, financial criteria etc although this should be a formality.

      Alpecin don’t have to accept the promotion. But they’d be mad not to as the best two non-World Tour teams at the end of the year, including any World Tour teams that have been relegated, get the invites to the Tour and Alpecin have not scored many points yet. Put simply if they opt not to take up the World Tour spot there’s a strong chance they won’t ride the Tour de France in 2023, 2024, 2025 and why risk that?

      • So building on this question – I’m theory let’s say bike exchange get relegated but alpecin or arkea don’t take up a place do bike exchange get to keep it?

        • Arkéa have said they’re going for World Tour, that’s a fact. I think Alpecin are too but they haven’t said it aloud. There’s also the news that Astana are in trouble financially again but either way it’s still the best 18 teams that qualify according to the rules and so if Bike Exchange were 19th they wouldn’t make it by rights.

          There’s also a rule that says if there are 16 or 17 World Tour teams then the best three (instead of two today) teams on the rankings get automatic invites to the grand tours but this is based on 2022 scoring and not 2020+2021+2022. Based off this week’s numbers (and that’s not going to be the same come October) Arkea are promoted and Cofidis and Lotto-Soudal relegated but Cofidis, Lotto and Total Energies get these three automatic invites, Uno-X are next and Alpecin below them (which is why Alpecin would be crazy not to go World Tour).

          • “The 18 top-ranked teams in the above-mentioned ranking, among the teams having applied for a UCI WorldTour licence in accordance with articles 2.15.009 and 2.15.010 and having met the criteria defined in articles 2.15.011c to 2.15.011f, are deemed to meet the sporting criterion.”

            If a team inside the top 18 declines to apply for a WT licence, that would lead to the 19th team outright being ranked 18th among the teams having applied for a WT licence and therefore winning their licence.

            But I agree that it would be extremely surprising for any qualifying ProTeam to not make the move up for the security of a three year run in the top division.

  4. I love the animated bar chart! It’s already fun to watch and the season has only just begun. It reminds me of the carnival horse race games, where you squirt water into a hole or roll balls to drive the horses forward. Maybe you can replace the jersey symbols for bicycles, and make it a proper season-long race. 😉

  5. Does anyone with legal expertise know how the criminal investigation being conducted into Astana by the authorities in Luxembourg could affect their UCI license? Or for that matter their failure to meet payroll?

  6. Any idea how many points Sagan “takes” to Total Energie? I hope that he starts finding some of his best form, but the new crop of riders appear to be a strong match for him and his talents. I imagine his deal is more of a gamble for them than him.

    • Signing riders doesn’t bring any points. Sagan’s points earned in 2021 with Bora stay with Bora, the points he earns this year will go to TotalEnergies but even if he has a stellar year he alone can’t make the difference to get them promoted, they’re too far behind.

    • 881… his lowest points tally since his first year of pro cycling in 2009. I don’t think he’s going to do a Philippe Gilbert. He’s just not as versatile.

      • Of course Gilbert went to Quickstep, a place known for finding ways for riders to overproduce compared to the rest of their careers. It’s hard to overestimate the QS contribution to many riders success, I think. Sagan, meanwhile, has almost always been in the opposite situation – elevating the team, which often means he has far less support than other top riders.

        Sagan also had an extraordinary and sustained ten-year period of excellence, which is par for most great riders.

    • I think that it’s not only about competition (which is a factor indeed). I suspect that there’s also a part of human, or “psychological” (so to say) element in Sagan’s decline, plus, of course, the statistically normal biological base of your “athletic duration at top level”. Starts sooner, ends sooner is (most often) the rule.
      …Or it’s just the 1990 curse, as simple as that!

      • Hard to see Sagan as being struck by a curse: 119 wins, with by far more of them WT wins than anyone else during the period 2010-2021, along with three WCs, etc., etc. I do agree it’s likely the psychological aspect has been part of his decline, but perhaps no more than most great athletes. Sagan has spent almost all of his career as a rider (and often ‘the’ rider) that others are racing against, with sky-high expectations in race after race by fans, the press, and team owners. Plus my sense is he’s always been treated as a bit of an outsider by the rest of the peloton (when he’s not been actively resented), and with usually mediocre team support.

        It could also be as “simple” as the pandemic disruption to racing over the last several years (fewer races to win, disrupted schedules and training, and the fact that COVID hits older athletes much much harder than younger ones).

        • The “1990 curse” is a reference to the fact that 1990-born athletes were (and still are) an exceptional crop of talent. Just have a look at how many GC athletes fighting for podia or victories in GT against the “big winners” of the previous generation were born in 1990. Quintana, Dumoulin, Aru, Chaves, Bardet, Pinot…

          At the Giro, for instance, out of 18 podium spot available 2013-2018, 5 were taken by Nibali, Contador or Froome; 7 were taken by four different riders born in that single 1990 year; and only 6 were left for 5 other riders born in any other year; essentially third places, by the way, with Urán the only exception as a runner-up.

          Obviously, this doesn’t call for any rational explication, it’s pure chance! Yet, it’s something one notices.

          At the Vuelta, only Quintana and Aru (1990), plus Horner over Nibali (palm face emoji here), could get a victory over the “big three” through the 2012 (or 2011) to 2017 period.
          At the Tour, 2012-2018, out of 21 podia spot, you’ve got 8 for Froome and Nibali (Contador had his before), 7 for four 1990-born riders, and, again, you’re left with just 6 spot for the rest, curiously enough all of them quite *old* (so to say) riders, Wiggins (32), Purito (34), Peraud (37), Valverde (35), Urán (30) and Thomas (32).

          Then, quite suddenly, after 2018, *none* of the 9 x 3 = 27 available podium spot across the three GTs goes ever again to a 1990-born rider.

          Which is shocking, in a sense, because they aren’t as old already as to expect such a drop in performance. Those guys had been able to sweep as much as a third part of the available podium spots, and now it is zero out of twenty-seven?
          In 2019, they were 29 – check that against the age of the athletes who were getting Tour de France podia apart of them and Froome/Nibali during the previous *seven years*. All of them above, over 30!

          Now 29 is “too old to die young”… for the 1990 guys.

          Yeah, that’s curious too: it’s for the 1990 guys *only*. Because Nibali is still a close runner-up at the 2019 Giro. Let’s not speak of Roglic, even, because of his personal sporting history, but you also have Caruso, or Kelderman who’s a 1991 and hence 31 when he podiums at the 2020 Giro. And Valverde, of course. And Kruijswijk, and Thomas again, and Porte.
          That is, it’s not that cycling itself is changed that much as to eject any “older” rider. It’s not any kind of more subtle change, given that the Dutch Ks, Nibali, Valverde, Caruso, Porte etc. are all well-known forces, and as a consequence a benchmark of sort.

          It really looks like that those golden boys who were still doing great at 27 or 28, suddenly faded away, essentially together.

          That’s what’s called the “1990 curse”.

          And, as you might notice, it’s then applied effectively to other very good or great 1990-born riders who aren’t GC cyclists.

          From 2012 on, Sagan never scores less than 2,000 PCS points a year, and is often well above, barring 2014 (1,720). But after 2018, he never does again. He was always among the 5 best riders, again except for 2014 (6th). Then he struggles to make the top-10 (or twenty).
          And he was already at Bora in 2017 and 2018… as he still was from 2019 on!

          Matthews, with some differences (in sheer quality, to start with) is a similar case, rampant from 2014 on (and in 2013 he was winning 2 stages at the Vuelta, albeit not much more), then a drop, slightly more gradual, through 2018, worse again in 2019, then nothing at all.

          And what about Sagan’s juvenile alter ego and rival, i.e., Kwiatkowski? Sure his career has been tilted by choosing a gregario’s life, yet in terms of PCS points you see him always well above 1,000 from 2013 to 2018 both included with the only exception of 2016. Then it’s three season struggling to keep the 600 zone.

          Although in one-day races the 1990-effect is way less apparent than in GTs, and barely visible in cobbled classics (still, let’s not forget the results of Pinot and Chaves at Lombardia 2015 to 2018, or Bardet and Kwiatkowski at Liège 2014 to 2018), one must also notice that Sagan, Kwiatkowski and Matthews racked up *half* of the available podium spots at the Worlds (including, well, all the wins) from 2014 to 2017. Bardet was beat by Valverde in 2018, then… nothing at all.

          Again, let me insist that this is pure random.
          Whatever you might think about, doping, training techniques, whatever, could and should apply as well to 1989 or 1991 born, to say the least. And if it was just about aging, or a mere generational shift, you wouldn’t see several older riders, be them top champions or just good athletes, going on winning.

          And yet, precisely as you can notice a surprising concentration of talent in those who were born in 1990 and got to the top, it’s equally shocking how *all of them* experienced an incredible drop of performance after getting 28.
          The crazyness of it all created the idea of a “curse”.

          It would be interesting to try and check if a similar phenomenon had been happening to other specific years of birth. I don’t think so, in recent seasons at least, but it might just be confirmation bias since I focussed on those born in 1990.

          • TL;DR
            A number of riders born in 1990 were very good but have been eclipsed as they get into their thirties and younger riders get into their prime years.

            Hardly a revelation.

          • As I said, try to find any other single birth year (1990, not “Nineties”) for which you can say the same to such a proportion and you’ll discover how hard it is.

            And, as I pointed out above, various riders born in 1991 or 1987 or 1980 or whatever didn’t get as much eclipsed by the new generations, sometimes it’s even the other way around. Check Ulissi’s (1989) PCS points, for example (or many many others). You don’t notice that sort of sharp and sudden drop in performance.

            However, it’s just a statistical anomaly, nothing more.

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