UCI World Tour Promotion and Relegation Weekly

The weekly look at the UCI promotion and relegation standings. With Alpecin-Fenix and Arkéa-Samsic high on the tables and all but assured promotion, the story is all about which teams face the drop. It’s becoming very tight because relegation candidates Lotto-Soudal are closing in on EF Education and BikeExchange.

What’s Changed Since Last Week?

  • Unchanged since March, Lotto-Soudal and Israel are the two teams facing relegation but the news is that it’s getting very close. BikeExchange slip to 18th place and have just 230 points over Lotto-Soudal; Education First rise to 17th but there’s little comfort as they’re only 341 points above Lotto-Soudal. The chart below shows just how close things are getting, today’s three-way fight to avoid 19th place can turn into a five-way scrap, watch those lines converge:

  • As things stand the automatic invites for the 2023 grand tours would go Lotto-Soudal and TotalEnergies
  • Jumbo-Visma hit the jackpot thanks to a 1-2 on GC in the Dauphiné, plus all those stage wins and placings to get 1580 points, next were Bahrain with 503 and Alpecin-Fenix with 430
  • Lotto-Soudal got 343 points, EF Education 250, Movistar 140, Israel 71
  • At the foot of the weekly table was DSM with 15 points, Bike Exchange got 3 and Trek-Segafredo none

Two points to note this week…

First a cropped screengrab of the commissaire report from from Stage 6 of the Dauphiné, it shows fines for punching and littering, both cash and UCI points, visible a reminder that points can be won by results… and forfeited by breaking the rules.

Valverde is going to Florida
Second, Movistar’s Eusebio Unzue is the latest to lament the points scale. He’s wisely calling for reform for the next set of years, and not going on a rant because his team faces the drop. What this and more shows is that for years few people, team owners and fans alike, ever paid attention to the rankings, let alone how they were composed. We probably weren’t supposed to either, to find the points tables you had to root around the UCI website, find the right 280 PDF document, scroll to page-whatever.

But the importance of points for World Tour and ambitious Pro Conti teams isn’t new, the three year promotion/relegation system was announced in 2018. Sure it’s a hot topic which is why you’re reading this weekly update. But from a structural perspective it’s a bit like a US Presidential candidate clocking that their voting system uses an electoral college derived from absolute majorities on a state-by-state basis, and so campaigning in swing states, especially those that supply many electors, could be a good idea. Given we’re halfway through the third and final year, it’s the equivalent of October in a US campaign and a bit late to remark some races, like US states, have more points than others. Just as politicians flock to “battleground states” like Pennsylvania or Florida, we’re now beginning to see several teams pay very close attention to the races that offer plenty of points. Today’s Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge is a case in point, and a chance for teams with climbers to score points.

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.

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

  1. You consider the relegation race will go between 6 teams?
    – Israel
    – Lotto-Soudal
    – BikeExchange
    – EducationFirst
    – Movistar
    – Cofidis
    All those teams have less than 1.000 points more than Lotto.

    Personally, I see 7 teams in the relegation battle.
    – Astana seem safe and also Arkea, with the way they are scoring and the extra points gap.
    – With the way they are scoring, DSM is not out of the woods yet. They only have 1334 points more than Lotto-Soudal.

    If DSM doesn’t get a good classification with Bardet in Tour De France and Ewan starts winning, that gap can rapidly close. Certainly as DSM does not do that many point-rich-races so far this season.

    • In your scenario, it’s not just between Lotto and DSM, though. EF, BEX, Movistar and Cofidis would also have to finish above DSM for them to be in danger…

      • Good point. It’s still feasible though. I wouldn’t bet any money on a DSM relegation, but they’re still “in play”. They’ve only scored 2175 points so far this season, which is pretty low.

        I think Movistar and Cofidis will end above DSM in the final standings. They have so much more potential and races and the gap is small.

        So we’ll have to see how Lotto, BikeExchange and EducationFirst score compared to DSM. But again, DSM is not out of the woods yet. DSM does not start in many point-rich races, so we will have to see how Bardet scores this Tour de France for example.

    • These are weekly updates, so no need to get too far ahead but more teams can get sucked in, yes. DSM have a good cushion from the past but are struggling to score.

      It could be like a track elimination race where a team can keep lurking at the back but pip past the others at the end. It’s hard to know the calendar until the end of the year, eg who can see the Tour of Guangxi happening?

      • You can get a good idea of what’s remaining via this link:

        I don’t think the Tour of Guanxi will make that much of a difference.

        Quickly added the European races to Excel.
        – 29 1.1-races remaining
        – 11 1.Pro-races
        – 4 1.UWT-races
        – 11 2.1 races
        – 9 2.Pro-races
        – 4 2.UWT-races: Tour de Suisse, Tour de France, Tour de Pologne & Vuelta

        Next to that, there are the national championships, the world championships and:
        Asian races
        27.08 – 28.08 Tour of Almaty 2.1
        28.08 – 01.09 Tour de Taiwan 2.1
        28.09 – 03.10 Tour of Iran (Azarbaijan) 2.1
        11.10 – 18.10 Le Tour de Langkawi 2.Pro
        13.10 – 18.10 Gree-Tour of Guangxi 2.UWT
        16.10 Japan Cup Cycle Road Race 1.Pro

        American races:
        04.09 Maryland Cycling Classic 1.Pro
        09.09 Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec 1.UWT
        11.09 Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal 1.UWT

    • I see Bike Exchange and Israel in the most trouble – they’re both going backwards (Israel’s 37 year-old stage winner notwithstanding). Bike Exchange, interestingly enough came second on that stage, but should have won that – Matthews blew the sprint.

      It’ll be a very interesting battle as the season progresses, thanks to Inrng for highlighting it here. Every time you see Lotto go on a raid or Matthews/Impey trying to make a mid-mountain stage difficult for the sprinters you’ll know this is the motivation.

  2. Regarding: “As things stand the automatic invites for the 2023 grand tours would go Lotto-Soudal and TotalEnergies”

    It could be interesting to create another ranking “points scored this season” for the 7 relegation teams. Because if Lotto moves to a safe place, things start to get interesting for that story.

    Certainly the race between BikeExchange and Israel for the most points this season. Israel needs to catch up 333 points there. They also need to stay ahead of EducationFirst, although the gap is big there with 823 points.

    – Cofidis 4893 points
    – Lotto 4374 points
    – Total 3696 points
    – Movistar 3497 points
    – BikeExchange 2867 points
    – Israel 2534 points
    – DSM 2175 points
    – EducationFirst 1711 points

    • You’re very much right. If Lotto and BEX manage to over EF and get a WT license, EF will have to rely on the wild cards based on 2022 points. And as things currently stand, they would lose out to Total Energies and Israel (and not very far ahead of Uno-X). So as 3rd ranked pro-tour team, they will still get automatic wild cards to WT 1-day races, but not to the WT stage races.

      This may not be the best news for Carapaz …

  3. According to the UCI, grabbing another rider and then hitting them in a fast moving peloton, followed up by hitting them again 10km further on after the finish line is only worth 4 x (in points and CHF) the penalty for passing a bidon to a spectator (Barguil). Not sure the UCI has really thought through its logic? Mind you, only ten points for coming third on a stage (Barguil again) also seems off, even before deducting the bidon fine. As for Molano, he really needs to be banned.

    • Has any action been taken against Hugo Page?

      According to Molano, his anger was the result of a second instance of dangerous riding by Page that could have caused a huge crash. I presume Page wasn’t censured because there’s no fault attached to being punched, and sudden changes of direction go unpunished unless during a sprint. But maybe the commissaires should have taken a look.

      The way Intermarche are going they could afford to lose a few points for offences. We wouldn’t have expected that at the start of the year.

        • I don’t see how it changes anything… UCI commissaires are not french (and Bardet was DQ in one Paris-Nice without any problems, though he was one of the best french hope).

          • I think the main thing is that there is no clear footage of whatever Hugo Page allegedly did (would be hard to capture something like that in the middle of the peloton, unless there is a helicopter or drone overhead at exactly the right time).

  4. We’re going to see lots of teams riding to get top tens in grand tours rather than trying to win, as well as seeing a flood of riders to lesser one day races.

    Is that beneficial to cycling?

    I also wonder how lower division teams and riders feel about big teams snatching results in ‘their’ races. Discouraged?

    • If there was no promotion/relegation system people would decry Alpecin and Arkéa being in the lower tier while potentially worse teams above them have World Tour status and some would ask if this was good for cycling. As Unzué says, the points system probably needs revising for next time around, but it’s not easy to get the balance right, good luck to the committee doing that.

    • It might be interesting to check post hoc if this happens to a large extent. With PCS stats it wouldn’t be that hard to sort out. Of course you probably wouldn’t want to compare this year to the last two, since there was a huge amount of disruption to the schedule due to COVID in 2020 and 2021. PCS does stats on the strength of the start lists of the races, and if there’s a significant increase in the quality of the start lists of 1.1 and 1.2 races, and perhaps a decrease in the quality for 1.WT races, then it would be a strong argument for the points system skewing things.

      I’m not sure how you notice teams going for top 10’s instead of wins in GTs, or even if that’s a sound strategy – it already seems like that’s a common goal for teams that have little chance for a GT podium to go for a top 10, since there’s a fair bit of prestige there, and the gulf between podium and the lesser places is usually wide. But it’s also a risky strategy, putting the best rider on a weak team in a GT hoping to finish 8th or 9th, when we all know when there’s a big problem such a rider can plummet right out of the top 10 and even end up a DNF late into the race. The sounder points strategy would seem to be to save those riders for 2.Pro or 2.2 races that they can’t do when they’re focused on the GTs.

      • Riders often ride GTs to protect their top ten – I just think they might be even more risk-averse now. Maybe they won’t try to go up the top ten list, instead not risking their 8th place.

        An example of conservatism, I think, was seen in Hugh Carthy in the last two stages of the Giro. He didn’t go for stage wins, instead protecting his top ten position by riding with the favourites. That he was able to ride with the favourites suggested he probably was good enough to go for a stage win.

        EF, to continue using them as an example, have a number of riders – e.g., Carthy, Uran, Chaves – who are much better suited for gaining GT top tens than results at one day races (been a long time since Uran and Chaves were doing that, and Carthy never has).

        • Hugh Carthy has won a single GT stage so far I think (Vuelta 2020), and I believe only a single stage in a WT level shorter stage race. He’s consistently climbing with the best, but very rarely winning. He just doesn’t seem to be that kind of rider. Last year he took 8th in the Giro, this year 9th, three years ago 11th, so I’m not sure how much he was protecting his place, and how much he was riding to his expected maximum GC placing. With his lack of a finishing kick, I’m not sure what else he should be doing.

          As for one-day races, today EF took first and second in the Mt. Ventoux Challenge, netting a handy 210 UCI points and notching only their forth win of the season. Even though it’s a lowly 1.1 race, it’s had some excellent podiums in it’s short history. It doesn’t seem like a bad thing at all for teams like EF to take a shot at more of these races.

        • There are many instances of rides ‘a la Zubeldia’ achieving a lower top ten result through steady defensive efforts, but I don’t think Carthy in the Giro is one. After a poor start to the race, shipping a hatful of time, he switched to stage hunting and was away in the breaks on multiple occasions but each time came up short of the win. However the time he gained and the fading of those above him punted him back into top ten GC contention. So he had a choice to make at the end; switch back to GC or keep rolling the dice for the stage win. Given his evident fatigue after his considerable attacking efforts in the second half of the race I was surprised he was still able to hang with the best climbers on those last two stages.

      • You can’t really judge that from 1 year of PCS statistics, especially as earlier in the season some races had lots of riders dropping out because of COVID & other sickness issues, etc.

    • there have always been lots of riders looking for a top ten in a grand tour. It might change one or 2 riders approach at worst.
      The teams in question don’t have many top ten riders to start with.

  5. My tips for relegated teams are EF and Israel. EF declared that they don’t want to go to second/third tier races which does not seem to be a good strategy. This year they have only 1.7% of the total points of top 24 teams, while in season 2021 it was much higher, 3.2%. (and in 2020 4.8%!).
    My other prediction: top ProTeams (with automatic wildcards) in 2023 will be Totalenergies and Israel.

  6. This is no criticism of this excellent regular feature.
    But what does this actually change in racing?
    Lots of teams – all but one in the end – have always ridden for top 10 GT placings.
    Prize money has always made racing a little bit more than ‘win or nothing’, though there could be more emphasis on lead-out guys staying in for the points instead of dropping out the way.

    Isn’t the biggest deciding factor always which teams, and how many can continue to get funding? Sure, the funding might go if a team looks like falling out the top tier but commercial realities can and do bite way harder and faster than this 3 yr rolling tally.

    • It doesn’t change too much with the racing but it can heighten the interest, seeing riders sprinting for some 1.1 like the Grote Prijs van der Kanaal, or attacking in the Giro del Campanilismo now comes with an extra layer of significance but for cycling insiders who follow these things. Otherwise there’s not much change in the racing, the Tour de France this summer will still be all the big teams going for it. But it will be doubly stressful for those struggling, a secondary/tertiary story.

    • If Education First drops, they might still get one of the free wild cards next season, but at the end of that season there is a high chance they stop, as the contracts of all their racers (and sponsors?) stops.

      • IIRC, EF is signed on as their main sponsor for at least one more year, so I don’t think they’d fold immediately. They have a women’s WT team as well now, and given the fast growing nature of that side of the sport, sponsors might not look at just the men’s side of things when investing. EF are a unique team. They were very important in navigating the conversation in the immediate aftermath of Lance etc, and they continue to be an interesting team. I really question their decision not to race the x.1 / x.pro race circuit, though. They have some young riders who really need the race experience, and they obviously need the points. The ironic thing is that the first 1.1 race they entered this season, they went one – two on the podium!!

        One question about the relegation system; is “18 teams” an absolutely set-in-stone number? I’ve read a number of articles recently that skirt around the issue by saying “if the UCI decides on 18 teams…” Is it possible the UCI could go with, say, 20 teams in the end? Or increase the number of teams that get automatic invites? I really think they need to institute a “parachute” system for relegated teams (like the Premier League in football, for example) that will insure that relegation is not a death sentence for a team. Many teams are on precarious footing as it stands, and not every team has a petrochemical conglomerate or ethically dubious sultanate as their sponsor…

        • For now it is 18 teams, rule 2.15.011 a spells this out “The 18 top-ranked teams… having applied for a UCI WorldTour licence” so as long as everyone has their paperwork in (there are different deadlines to renew vs to apply for promotion) then it’s 18 for 2023-2025 as things stand.

        • There is a parachute system of sorts as the relegated WT teams have a head start in the race for automatic wild cards given their places in every WT race the previous season.

          • And they have the same advantage during the 3 years where they are part of the WT, so if they get relegated it’s probably already at least partially their own fault they didn’t perform well enough… (if we rule out some extreme case of bad luck).

  7. What does the top team get at the end? Do they get something on their jersey for next year?

    Does inrng think the top team will celebrate and make a big show of being top. Do JV, QS or Ineos talk of the ranking or is it only a discussion point for teams in the relegation zone?

    • I thought the season points (noy the 3 year poins) determine the starting order of the cars behind the peloton?

      For the rest just bragging rights i guess.

    • There’s a prize for topping the annual rankings and Jumbo-Visma lead this and the three year rankings now (just). Being number one is a good marketing thing but for most teams, sponsors and riders it’s more how you won these points that mattered, the races you won and all that. As said here over the years, the rankings don’t really tell us who is the best rider or the best team, they reflect what a committee is trying to say about the relative importance of different races.

  8. EducationFirst does a super deal in Mont Ventoux.

    Guerreiro and Chaves on 1 and 2. They take 213 points on Lotto/BikeExchange and 208 on Israel.

    Education First now have 554 points on Lotto-Soudal and 324 on BikeExhange.

    Gap with Israel (only important in case of relegation) closes from 823 to 615.

  9. Cyril Guimard has been studying the Inner Ring blog! In a quiet interlude during his Equipe 21 Tour de Suisse commentary we have been treated to a long and detailed study of promotion/relegation question. He’s a keen supporter of the broad principle.

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