UCI World Tour Promotion and Relegation Weekly

Another week, another update and the big story is Lotto-Soudal are firmly in 20th place, facing relegation and now they’re hiring riders mid-season to help.

What’s Changed Since Last Week?

  • No change with Israel and Lotto-Soudal in 19th and 20th place below the relegation line but Israel have had a second good week, scoring 288 points. They’ve scored almost a third of their season’s haul in the past two weeks
  • Bahrain topped the week for points ahead of Quick-Step, Bora-Hansgrohe and Movistar, with the Spanish team getting enough points to move from 17th to 15th
  • Among the low scorers were Cofidis (70 points) and Lotto-Soudal (52 points)
  • B&B scored two points and while they’re not in a promotion/relegation battle, they’re in a survival contest because with few points it’ll be harder to give them wildcard invites for which they exist for
  • Assuming Arkéa-Samsic and Alpecin-Fenix apply for promotion, the automatic invites for the grand tours go to Total Energies and Lotto-Soudal

Embed from Getty Images

The bigger story this week is Lotto-Soudal hiring Carlos Barbero and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg out of their reluctant retirements in the wake of the Qhubeka team fiasco. The Belgian team had only 27 riders on their roster so there’s space to recruit the pair, an option neither Israel nor Cofidis enjoy. While there’s still doubt about Alpecin-Fenix applying for promotion then sitting 19th could still be safe, but Lotto-Soudal are in 20th and face relegation so they’re taking big measures.

The new hires have been handy riders and normally only points scored from the day they don a team jersey count, they don’t bring any past points with them but that’s for transfers. This year van Rensburg has been racing for himself, as pointed out by Steve in the comments below, and earned 343 points in national and African championships and these could go now to Lotto-Soudal, he’d be there fourth highest scorer after De Lie, Wellens and Campenaerts and ahead of Ewan. If these points are added when he joins from 1 May onwards then it’d just lift Lotto above Israel, everything else being equal.

It’s both a desperate move and a sensible one: desperate because it’s reactive and signing them for 1 May means they’ve missed on a lot of races where these riders could have scored; sensible because it reflects reality and the team is actively taking measures to help. Both riders are decent signings capable of results, especially if targetted with harvesting points and we can imagine their contracts incentivise this.

More hires and tranfers?
Teams are free to recruit riders who are out of work or riding for third tier Conti teams at any time. But it’s fine to scour for the best riders on Conti squads, sign them and only points scored with their new team count so a team is buying potential and not any points they’ve earned this season. Teams cannot hire riders from other professional teams, ie rival WorldTeams and ProTeams, except during the August transfer window, but this is an opportunity to exploit both for teams needing points and teams who might be releasing a rider at the end of the year who could cash in on a sale.

Animated bar chart race

Background info
If you’re new to the story of promotion and relegation this year and want it explained then click here.

To see how many points are available in each race or category, click here.

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

  1. “The new hires have been handy riders but only points scored from the day they don a team jersey count, they don’t bring any past points with them. It’s both a desperate move and a sensible one” JJvR had reportedly commented that the reason why he rode as a privateer this year was to gain UCI points but not losing them to a team. He has 350 points, from his exploits at SA and African champs. It would make sense for this to be the case, but I guess the rules and regulations will be scoured to confirm.

    • Interesting, being a private rider and not with a team could allow Lotto to bank these points. I’ll rework the paragraph above to reflect this.

      The rule (2.10.004 bis) says “adding the points obtained from the start of the season by the 10 best riders under contract with each team at the time of the ranking” so RJvR meets this as having scored already but when the rankings are compiled this time next week he’ll be part of the team.

      • Don’t see how that would work. There isn’t a regulation directly covering a rider who starts mid-season then carries on till the end, but both the paragraphs on transferred riders and retiring riders suggest that you only start counting from the date the contract begins:

        Special provision for riders transferred
        Points obtained from the start of the season *(or date of start of contract if the latter started
        after the start of the season)* until the date of the transfer are added to the points of the
        former team. Points obtained from the date of the transfer until the last day of the season
        (or date of a new transfer) are added to the points of the new team.

        Special provision for riders ending contract
        Points obtained from the start of the season *(or date of start of contract if the latter started
        after the start of the season)* until the date of end of contract are still added to the points
        of the former team.”

          • He’s not, but if he either transfers to another team or retires towards the end of the season, then his points will explicitly only be counted from the date his contract starts. So it would be weird for the UCI to adopt a different approach for this particular situation.

          • The text of the regulation makes it look as though a transfer is a transfer, regardless of whether it is in or out.

            But if it gets so close that RJvR’s pre-signing points would be enough to move Lotto from 19th place on the list of teams applying to 18th, I think we would see the UCI award a 19th WorldTeam licence rather than applying the regulations to the letter and hope the courts back their interpretation.

          • Regarding the above machinations, isn’t this what we always wished cycling would be about? Who cares about winning bike races when there are the intricacies of regulations to be discussed. What a thrill to see teams attempting to game the system. A huge chapeau to the UCI!

          • To be fair, it’s only the most dedicated fans with an intense interest in minutiae who are even aware of this stuff. I find it fascinating, and that it adds another dimension to my interest in the sport, in a similar way that learning about the machinations of route selection of various races adds to the color of the sport. If it annoys you, why read about and argue about it? We’re not talking about anything that’s fundamentally affecting the sport.

            At the end of the day, every sport has to have some kind of incentive system for maintaining quality and some level of fairness. In any endeavor that involves incentives (law, business, sport, education, etc.) people will spend a certain amount of energy focused not on the overall goal but on responding to the incentives. Change the incentives, and you change some of this behavior, but there’s really no way I can see to totally eliminate incentives nor to make interested parties ignore the incentives.

          • I find it mildly diverting.
            I also find the entire points system – the idea, and particularly the allocation of points – ridiculous.
            Would it not be ridiculous if Lotto-Soudal finished higher than another team, who were then relegated, because of points earned by RJvR while he was not even riding for L-S?
            Or if Team A lost out to Team B because Team B had placed in a bundle of low-level one-day races while Team A had scored fewer points due to only managing top tens in the GC of grand tours?

          • If a team is strong enough to actually deserve to hold on to its place, it should beistrong enough to finish clearly ahead of Lotto – Soudal. It the gap isn’t wider than the amount of points that van Rensburg brings in through a loophole in the rules, the team deserves to be relegated!
            That said, no points system is safe from effects of unforeseen and quite exceptional circumstances. We must probably wait a lo-ong time before we’ll see a rider sans équipe winning points and getting signed mid-team…

            Personally, I think the points system is an excellent tool that is used in a fairly balanced and smart way to promote and to increase the quality of those low-level one-day races – which in my opinion are an important part of road cycling. The sport will be poorer and less healthy if we lose them or their level of racing sinks below a ertain level.
            If team A is relegated because this ridiculous aspect of the points system, it’s a price that must be paid and a price that I don’t find unreasonable. It doesn’t matter much, either, that the system seems to favour French teams that frequent and are welcomed in those one-day races….

            PS What I would change if I ruled the UCI: I would continue to give handsome amounts of points to the Top Five, maybe Six in each GT, but the points for those below them in the GC I would redistribute to the Top Three in GT stages.

          • @Eskerrik Asko
            I don’t know if you were referring to what I once observed about the point system and the French movement, but the point is not that French teams just decide to go to some generic smaller races and so get rewarded for that, which would be perfectly fine.
            The point is actually that races which share very similar characteristics, and which are as a consequence equally important for the general well-being of cycling as a sport – do award many more points if they are held in France.
            French teams tend to go there by default (they always did for a series of reason), now other teams do that, too, which is just great – what isn’t great is that the nationalist UCI point system makes it happen mainly or especially in one single country – France, in this case (“socialism in one country” vs. “international revolution”?).

          • The ellipsis point were there for a reason…
            That part of the points system is clearly in need of a vigorous shake and readjustment, It was something that I hadn’t been at all aware of until you brought it up and described how the system is currently tilted itowards French races in a manner for which it is difficult to find reasons, historical or other, that do not include an unhealthy amount of national favouritism, cronyism or some such ism.
            (But since Israel – Premier Tech is the team that is most likely to suffer the fate J Evans painted for Team A, there aren’t probably too many who will complain about it.)

          • Eskerrik, you say:
            ‘If a team is strong enough to actually deserve to hold on to its place, it should be strong enough to finish clearly ahead of Lotto – Soudal. It the gap isn’t wider than the amount of points that van Rensburg brings in through a loophole in the rules, the team deserves to be relegated!’
            However, surely by that logic, Lotto-Soudal would be even more deserving of relegation?

          • Just a thought – if teams from outside France feel hard done by, how about they solve the problem by lobbying within their home markets for more races to be run at a higher level (i.e. 1.Pro and 2.Pr0) so there are more opportunities for them to win more points.

            The aim should be to make cycling bigger outside France, not to punish the French for being more committed to the sport.

          • Eyeroll… they do already have bigger races outside France, it’s that they’re given comparatively lower UCI status, or, better said, the other way around… check original posts on the subject

          • The original posts, two in number, can be found here: http://inrng.com/2022/02/uci-world-tour-promotion-relegation/

            But what DaveRides suggets is, I think. that the race organizers in Italy and other countries should strive to raise the UCI category of their races and that this could be done simply by showing the UCI that they are commited to the sport and by meeting the criteria for each category clearly defined in the UCI regulations and objectively applied by the relevant and competent UCI organ.
            It can be discussed whether this indeed is so or whether it has, for one reason or another, an easier task for French organizers. It does seem as if a number or French races have been ranked “above their level” when one compares their general level (starting field, winners, history) to races in other countries.
            Of course, there could be a simple explanation: those French races have a healthier relaionship with the regional governments and institutions and the local communites and the sponsors…while the Italian and other races simply donst have the budget to run a 1.Pro race and therefore UCI cannot rank it as such.

      • Of course. But the point was that if the scenario you present becomes reality, there are two teams neither of which deserves to maintain its place in the top tier. Therefore it’s of no importance and very little interest to anyone outside the teams in question (and their fans) which one manages to avoid relegation.
        No huge sporting injustice will take place, nothing worth rewriting the rules for.

        • The other team might well disagree with you. Could be fun times ahead in CAS if this does come to pass. Personally, though, I think Richard S had it spot on here a while ago – in all likelihood, at least one team will go bust so none of this relegation stuff will matter by season’s end.

          • If one current WorldTeam (most likely Astana) goes bust, there’s still going to be a current WT team finishing outside the top 18 and facing relegation.

            It would then depend on whether both Arkea and Alpecin apply for WorldTeam status.

            My guess is that the UCI will not be up for a fight, and will use the built-in loopholes in the regulations to grant a 19th licence if it comes down to only one current WT team facing relegation.

            My *hope* is that a 19th licence will only be offered on a conditional basis where the team would be required to commit to a comprehensive renewal of their riding roster (transferring in at least 5 riders per year aged under 27 and not neo pros) and sporting directors (signing at least two sporting directors with prior WT/PT experience each year) before being able to start each season on the conditional licence.

  2. The animated chart helps to put some numbers on what people mean by QuickStep having a bad classics season. Obviously they’re still leading and first v second isn’t as consequential as 18th v 19th, but: on 22 Feb before opening weekend they had a 3,000 point lead over their nearest rival; now, even after Remco winning LBL, there are 2 teams within 1,000 points of them.

    • Absolutely, and it reiterates the meaning of a season saving race – without the LBL win, Quickstep was very close to being relegated.

      How long has Q-S been top of the table?

      • In 2020 Jumbo-Visma ended the year as the top-scoring team, but at the end of 2021 QS was already on top. We’d need another animated bar chart for 2021 in order to know if during the 2021 Summer INEOS was able to briefly overcome QS (or not), before the latter came back strong in Autumn.
        I’m speaking of total sum since the 2020 season, given that if we consider 2021 only, I’d dare to say that INEOS was quite surely on top before being passed at the end of the season – they finished with similar points for that single year, but QS looked weaker during the Summer before thriving again in Autumn Classics, although they alread had had a strong Spring, of course.

        • The answer is yes, Ineos overtook QS very briefly: for the 1 week between 27 July (Carapaz’s Olympic Gold) and 3 August (Olympic ITT, San Sebastian and a Flemish 1 day race).

          I believe that Quickstep overtook Jumbo Visma by 16 Feb 2021 – the first rankings after the Euro season opened with Tour de la Provence and Clasica de Almeria, where QS got 2 podiums vs George Bennett’s Kiwi championship.

          Ineos overtook JV on the 3 year rankings after the Giro, then JV went back in front on 7 September after the Vuelta (and Benelux tour).

          JV had overtaken Ineos by 7 September,

  3. Fascinating… I’ve been on a bender after LBL trying to look for the new names to have come from the early season with an eye to future –

    Noticed Ethan Vernon high up in Romandie TT today, interesting, and keeping on the young Brits front Ethan Hayter back on song for the win, expected to see more of him this year but illness/form/crashes seem to have held him back, looking forward to what comes in the next phase of the year.

    The sudden emergence of the under25s and the hanging on of the over34s has made it feel like the generation below Froome/Cavendish and other never seemed to hit the pinnacle before the chance was taken away from them – Ewan and Gaviria looked like they’d be the next Cav/Kittel but that seems to have never quite happened, Dumoulin looked to be the next Froome but likewise never happened, even people like Sep VanMarcke never had the moment he so deserved.

    • If the points do get added then it does work very well for all. He’s also a talent with a big engine, he was tipped for the top a decade ago especially when he beat Lars Boom of Rabobank on home soil, back in 2012, an emblematic win that marked a fine season. He didn’t quite meet the expecations but has had a solid career and think he can surprise this year.

      • So it makes sense for a team to buy in talent that was hot ten years ago because that rider had to ride privateer in a country with, er no UCI registered road teams. At this rate, and with that poor attitude to the development of a talent pool, pro cycling will eat itself.
        There must be many a rider on Bel and NL teams wondering what they have to do.
        If this is what the points system means for teams, it’s time to change the points system.

        • I wouldn’t go that far, Lotto have made a clever signing but there’s no shortage of opportunities for promising Dutch and Belgian riders. But who among them can Lotto sign today to score points? They’ve already got De Lie from their development team, he’s there biggest scorer.

  4. Another Ineos win today.
    I know that there have been comments of a one-off golden generation of British riders (Cavendish, Wiggins, Froome, Thomas etc) but it looks like the team is doing a very decent job of renewing itself and with a solid base of young British talent again.
    They’re possibly still missing that one outstanding GT leader (British or otherwise) to get the most out of their TdF team but it’ll be interesting to see how that matter is addressed.

        • Walking on a crutch two weeks ago, but he’s been RIDING for 7 weeks already. And, I’ll guarantee he isn’t riding around the block. He is doing serious training. So what if he needs a crutch or wheelchair to get around – honestly, that’s probably better. But if he is heading back to Europe to train, then he is self-sufficient enough to do serious training blocks.

          Honestly, I know, it seems far fetched. I still see that man has serious drive. He wants to put fear in the eyes of his competitors.

          Remember two years ago when he hurt his back overtraining? He was doing back to back 6-8 hour days for a full week. He would put in 35-40h weeks of training immediately before the Tour.

          He has gotten smarter, but even with this set-back, the only concession in his mind is that he won’t expect himself to beat pogacar this year. But, he expects to come 2nd, and then beat Pogacar in 2023.

          • He’s said no to doing the Vuelta because he doesn’t want to start just to get beaten. Now this could change given the speed of the progress, and also because banking a grand tour could be good for him. But either way the Tour would be tough. Yes he’s been riding but he can’t stand on the pedals and he’d have to have a race back before like the Dauphiné or Suisse.

          • Ok, I might have jumped the gun a bit then, lol

            I was up really late working – my whole family had covid and I was out of service for a few days. Sorry, my comment might not have been 100% clear when I made it.

            Either way, I really expect to see Bernal in a GT this year. As you mentioned Inrng, he’ll want to bank a GT this year. And he truly is a special rider.

          • Did I jump the gun? Cleared to start racing in a month….

            Jk, very glad to hear he is riding and can race again, that was a scary crash. Same for the news about Amy Pieters, hope she can recover and at least have a normal life.

            Ride safe everyone.

  5. Astana must be feeling relieved to have their cushion from 2020 and 2021. For 2022 their best points score is from Lopez with 3rd on the 2.Pro Ruta del Sol. It shows how much they are missing the injured Lutsenko and also how much they depend on a small number of riders. Nibali must be taking much of their budget and not providing much for it, yet?

    • You’re right, they’ve been very quiet this season (like EF). They used to be one of the big teams in cycling but one of the untold stories is how Astana’s budget has dried up and they’re just not the force they used to be, either on the road or in the transfer market. Nibali probably isn’t taking too much budget either.

      • Also the Kazakhstani rider who won the Asian Championships this year doesn’t ride for them, but for the Almaty Conti team. That’s 250 points missing.

      • Political turmoils in Kazakhstan surely didn’t help, both within the team direction and the State itself (for different reasons ^__^).
        One can easily imagine factions splitting, frictions, uneasiness and thus several individual contributions as well as an optimally concerted general effort going lost.
        They also might be regretting a couple of decisions they took in early-season Spanish races, but at the end of the day all that amounted to less points than the Asian Championships 😉

    • The number of riders they depend on is clearly related to the economic situation of the team and the unsteady future perspectives rather than being a team strategy or historical policy.

      In 2021, for example, they looked less dependent on a limited number of top scorers, when compared to, say, Bike Exchange, or even Trek Segafredo, not to speak of Movistar (in this case, essentially because of the unlucky season by Soler rather than a more structural weakness).

      Yet, shockingly enough (and quite much telling, too) it was impossible for Astana to retain *eight* of their ten scorers (8/10), youngster Battistella and Lutsenko. I don’t know if a similar situation can be detected in any other WT team. Not only potential stars as Vlasov went away (Bora), but also solid “second captains” like Izagirre (Cofidis). Older riders went looking for a retirement plan in sunny Middle-Eastern resorts, be it in Bahrain as did Luisle Sánchez or in Israel as Fuglsang. Movistar harvested now more mature Spanish athletes like rare winner but constant scorer Aranburu or strong climbing gregario Óscar Rodríguez. Omar Fraile went at INEOS, as a part of the general engrossing of super-gregarios by super-teams. Finally, Kudus went on to expand EF’s diversity patrol (I really hope to see him doing good at the Giro because I’ve the sensation that until now the shift didn’t work for him, but it’s really too soon to say and it might be precisely that they’re working well with him).
      Not only that. Imagine that even not-scoring number 11-12-13 were gone for good, talented young Sobrero to Bike Exchange (pure desperation, I guess), Houle with the Canadian-Israeli deal (obviously a Premier Tech rider) and Gorka Izagirre to Movistar (on the road to a well-deserved retirement).

      And while everybody was running away, for the very same reason Superman López is really the only solid (eyeroll) scorer they could bring in, along with David de la Cruz, maybe, the rest is deperate bets of sort. Well, an old Nibali can still scrap 3-4 hundreds of points, but the situation is really critical.

      • To put that into some perspective, imagine that “only” 7/10 scorers from Team Qhubeka had been harvested by other teams before the season started again, although it was clear the team would fold. That is, Astana was probably being perceived as a soon to be shut down project, absolutely so, which is obviously devastating – even if it doesn’t eventually happen in the short term.

  6. Question Mr IR: When a team takes on a celebrated but probably in decline rider in his final years (Nibali, Froome, Cavendish, Gilbert, GVA…), what freedom does the team have to make remuneration dependent on results? It can come off (Cavendish) but doesn’t always (Froome).

    • I’d say it’s up to both sides and their bargaining power, there can be a very low salary but big bonuses for wins, placing, results, points etc. Arguably there’s a self-fulfilling side in that if a rider is willing to be paid by results it’s because they’re confident they can get them in part because they’re keen to ride, eg Cavendish didn’t need the UCI minimum wage in 2021, he needed something else.

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