UCI World Tour Promotion and Relegation Weekly

The points from the Vuelta a España are banked and Movistar have plenty to cheer about. For Israel-PremierTech things are doomed as they’re now further adrift from 18th place and security than they have been all season. Team owner Sylvan Adams is threatening to sue if the rules are rewritten.

What’s Changed Since Last Week?

  • No change with Alpecin-Deceuninck and Arkéa-Samsic up for promotion, Lotto-Soudal and Israel-PremierTech facing relegation
  • Automatic invites to the grand tours next year would go to Lotto-Soudal and Total Energies
  • It’s been a big update with Quick-Step banking 1,898 points from the Vuelta a España and more. Yes first on GC in the Vuelta is 850 points but you don’t win a grand tour in isolation, there are the stage wins, placings and points for wearing the leader’s jersey along the way: Evenepoel collected 1,428.5 from the Vuelta.
  • Movistar got 1198 points thanks to Mas finishing second in the Vuelta and his placings too, 844 in total; but also Ivan Garcia Cortina’s fifth place in Québec
  • BikeExchange-Jayco were right to worry about Simon Yate’s exit from the Vuelta but get 720 points in part thanks to Michael Matthews in Québec and Dylan Groenewegen in Fourmies.
  • The three lowest scorers were Uno-X scored with zero, B&B 35 points and Total Energies 135 points but they’re not in the promotion/relegation contest to start with. Israel are, and they were fourth last with 138 points, chased by Cofidis on 244 and Lotto-Soudal with 255

The chart above shows the results of this all, look at the right with Movistar’s dark blue line bounding from 18th place to 14th. It’s good for them but it’s not guaranteed safety for them yet as there’s less than 500 points between them and Cofidis in 18th place, things remain close. But there’s now 700 points between Cofidis and Lotto-Soudal in 19th place, safety and relegation and with six weeks’ left of the season it’s going to be hard to close this. For Israel-PremierTech things look irredeemable as they’re 1,405 points adrift of 18th place, this gap is now wider than it has been all season.

Last week saw a story that the UCI could expand the World Tour to 20 teams, only for the UCI itself to issue a press release closing this down… although if we’re picky, not categorically ruling it out either. The expansion to 20 teams is something Israel team boss Sylvan Adams wants, it’s his main demand of the UCI in a joint interview with cyclingnews and Velonews, although this got somewhat drowned out by his bold calls to sue the UCI and even challenge Tour de France organisers ASO by creating a rival race. He’s threatening to sue the UCI and invoke force majeure, only typically this involves parties agreeing a force majeure clause in a contract and seemingly the World Tour rules have no such provision: you can’t just say “force majeure” out loud. Even if you tried, then men’s pro cycling, to the credit of many, did deliver on almost all the big races of 2020 so it’d be an argument to test in court but a hard one. As for establishing a rival race, well it’s an audacious idea and he probably doesn’t really mean it. But the irony is that as things stand Adams’ team will surely want a wildcard invitation from ASO next year.

Going to 20 teams in the World Tour could be a compromise but it’s not cost-free. First there’s rewriting the rules ex post which undermines the authority of a governing body. But there’s an impact on the other teams, there’s a paradox with teams wanting to be in the World Tour because of its restrictive nature and enforced scarcity, but if they face relegation then they want it to be a little less scarce. Other teams in the World Tour may not cheer this.

For all the possible criticisms of the structure of the sport, from the allocation of points to the World Tour calendar, the three year system and capping the World Tour at 18 teams, they’re the same for each team. The one thing that Adams has direct control over is his team and recruitment decisions.

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.

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

  1. “The three lowest scorers were Uno-X scored with zero, B&B 35 points and Total Energies 135 points but they’re not in the promotion/relegation contest to start with.”

    That’s not really accurate. Total is too far behind to promote, but Total is participating in the points-battle. If they don’t score enought, Israel could bypass them in the one-year-ranking and get the automatic invites to the grand tours…

    • The seasons-ranking of most important teams:
      – Cofidis 6550
      – Arkea 6421
      – Lotto 6200
      – Movistar 5724
      – BikeExchange 5290.5
      – TotalEnergies 5035
      – Israel 4369
      – EducationFirst 4045

      Scenario’s that would get Israel the automatic invites to the grand tours:
      – Lotto bypasses EducationFirst and avoids relegation (702 points difference)
      – TotalEnergies doesn’t score much anymore and Israel bypasses them (666 points difference)

      • When the dire situation of and the bleak forecast for Israel – Premier Tech became apparent and obvious, I commented that the best possible outcome that Israel can hope for is that Lotto Soudal climbs above EF and the latter drops to 19th.
        That would at least give Israel automatic invites for one year – which would not only be helpful in keeping or getting sponsors but also in winning enough points in 2023 so that the team actually has a fighting chance of getting promoted after three years.
        But now I have to give up: Israel – Premier Tech is twice doomed or doomed in both ways.

        And not only that: now Adams has gone and won the prize for being the most obnoxious team owner of the year (and possibly of the past 15 years, although he has Tinkoff to compete with there).

        I would really have hated to be the GM of Israel. It is quite obvious that he and his DSs haven’t had a free hand to spend the wage budget as they would have liked. (It is a credit to them that they haven’t let slip any complaints between the lines in interviews or criticized the ownership by means of leaking rumours or inside gossip.)

        For some reason I’ve quite liked the team. It’s a rich man’s toy alright, but that kind of thing doesn’t matter to me. I must put my trust in that Adams can accept what is coming and continue to bankroll the team: if the team finds itself in the same position three years on, then he can do what he pleases and consider it an experience for a life time.

        • How have they been blocked by the wage budget? I suspect you mean Froome and his hefty payday without much to show for it, but the requisite Canadian and Israeli signings surely haven’t been that much of an anchor, especially financially. On the Canadian side at least, Woods isn’t that risky a signing, and Houle has been a key domestique and has recently found his wings.

          Surely Astana is more hampered in terms of keeping roster spaces dedicated to Kazaks (Lutsenko aside)?

          • I can easily accept Froome as…what do you call it…a billboard acquisition? A famous name that attracts the attention of media everywhere , gains meetings and informal get togethers with sponsors, business friends and partners, so we can skip him
            I have no inside information, but it is my impression that on the next level (in terms of dollars or euros or Swiss francs) of riders there are quite a few who wouldn’t have been the first choices or who aren’t in the team just because no one better was available or willing to sign in their place.
            Michael Woods has been a bit of disappointment in this crucial year, but he is not one of the names I had in mind.
            The lack of talented soung riders has been quite noticeable since the team’s first season as a WorldTeam and I cannot imagine that the management would have chosen not to sign a few more whom they saw as promising.
            But, of course, I’m merely thinking aloud as a GM sitting on a sofa, watching the races and with perfect hindsight believing that he knows what should have been done…

          • 2 weeks after his crash it was obvious to me Froome would never win any tour again. His body damage knocked off at least 2-3% of his abilities. He became like Degenkolb and Sagan after their injuries, not the same riders.
            I would have made my team known by hiring current top riders and winning something!

  2. The point chase has made the season much more interesting.
    The World Tour should have promotion and relegation each year – makes it more interesting. Otherwise the points mean nothing, rien, nada – why on earth should we care who wins each race if the ‘league’ of teams is irrelevant?
    Of course relegation should come with parachute payments etc which I imagine there is no ££ for as the UCI have failed to create any sort of business model around their sport, letting ASO / RCS / Flanders Classics run away with all the profits from the industry. Shame.

    • The points system has given one day races an added interest, like some background general classification battle. As you say, nobody really cared about the points before, one of the curiosities of pro cycling is that it’s a sport where rankings don’t matter because each race has its subtle characteristics and prestige. But there had to be some way to rate the teams, better this than the Licence Commission meeting in November to decide who they fancied for the World Tour.

      There’s a sort of parachute in that a relegated team can qualify for the grand tour for the following season but only if they get enough points, it’s not automatic.

      As for sharing profits, we’re almost back to revenue sharing, the zombie that never dies. Even if you use wild assumptions where ASO, RCS etc somehow donate half their money to billionaires and petrostate princes, there’s just not much to go round, see http://inrng.com/2019/01/revenue-sharing-revisited

      • Some money going to the owners seems normal, but ASO has famously “donated” a lot of its TdF profits to organizing the Paris-Dakar rally (and maybe some of the other sports events in their portfolio), which has been making massive losses for a very long time, so a “poor” sport like road cycling is effectively sponsoring a car race. Somehow that seems… wrong?

        And as revenue-sharing goes, it probably better goes to supporting less famous cycling races, or races in categories that aren’t as profitable (women, juniors, etc.), which are all important for the road cycling ecosystem, and not to the men’s professional teams that already have a lot of money.

  3. “The one thing that Adams has direct control over is his team and recruitment decisions.”

    Quite so. The team has always looked unbalanced with well over half the roster thirty or over, and many well so – despite that including one of my favourite riders, Sep Vanmarcke. Even if the UCI did cede to Adams’ pressure and find a way to maintain their WT place, the 2023 line up hardly looks better with many of the old-timers still in contract while strengthening will be difficult. Who would leave a sure WT contract for an unclear IPT future?

    On a broader point, if one accepts the UCI WT/PCT strategy, surely 18 WT teams is ample.

    • I what would happen to the roster if Israel relegates without starting rights in the grand tours.

      There are 19 racers with a contract for next season: https://www.procyclingstats.com/team/israel-premier-tech-2023/overview/

      I dont know which racers have a contract clause so that they can leave in case of relegation.

      But many of the older racers are probably paid above market value. I expect most racers to remain on the roster until the end of their contract or even career.

      Some racers for which I could see interest with other teams close to their current salary are quite old: Nizzolo, Hermans, Teuns, Vanmarcke and Michael Woods.

      However, I understood they will get automatic invites to the one-day-races, and I doubt they would get the same role in the one-day-races with another team. So why leave? Maybe Nizzolo who wants to add stage victories in the grand tours? Teuns could get a good contract with a Belgian team, but just signed for Israel.

      The one racer that pops out for me is Corbin Strong. Probably not a very high salary but doing very well lately. But I doubt a young racer like that negociated a relegation clause.

      • “many of the older racers are probably paid above market value”. That’s a bit of an under-statement when they have the highest paid rider in the world getting €5.5 million and not exactly performing (again an under-statement). Compare that with what Wanty have done with a fraction of the budget of IPT.

        • Froome and Fuglsang are obviously very much overpaid. I think the same applies to Woods.

          I was referring to racers such as Sep Vanmarcke, Ben Hermans, Nizzolo, … for whom I never heard a salary announcement but could also have a good deal…

        • Intermarché has brought a budget increase to the Wanty-Gobert team, and I think their sponsors further increased the budget during the season (i.e. to increase Girmay’s salary), so they probably are no longer the “tiny budget team” they used to be.

          I don’t know exactly how they compare to IPT’s budget now, but “a fraction” is probably no longer the right word?

  4. Adams isn’t sounding very good in all of this. You understand his frustration, he is spending big money to help the sport and not receiving a lot in turn (I don’t think he is profiting from his team). With that being said, he put together a bad team. Hope he doesn’t leave the sport.

    • That was another interesting thing from the interview, his reprising of Jonathan Vaughters saying that relegation means the death of a team. You see that for a team like EF which is a business and needs to be in the top flight, but less for Israel which is really a passion project for Adams rather than one run for commercial marketing metrics, would he really stop the team if relegated? Perhaps he would but if he’s patient there’s the chance to race on and rebuild although for any relegated team, that starts now as if you want to get into the World Tour with points from 2023-2025, you need to be signing scorers now so they start delivering from next season onwards.

      • I think signing big scorers for next season wont be easy.

        With Total, B&B and Uno-X (and Bingoal?) also going for promotion and/or automatic invites in 2024, they don’t have an easy task ahead of them…

        • Not sure about Total Energies, but I think Adams can easily gather budger bigger than those other three teams added together, if he starts using some reasonable team building principles, he should outscore them over the next season with no problems.

        • Both Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise and Bingoal-Pauwels Sauces-Wallonie Bruxelles are partially government-sponsored, with goals to promote sports to the general population and provide a place for young Belgian riders to start their pro cycling career. Promotion to WT would defeat at least the latter goal.

  5. It’s hard to feel much sympathy here for Adams & ISN…the rules have existed for 3 years – it’s not like the UCI sprang them on everybody a few weeks ago. So why hasn’t he been complaining for the last 2-3 years? Seems pretty obvious he’s only complaining because it’s now inevitable that his team get relegated – we wouldn’t hear a whisper from him if his team were safe.

    But not only that, he now wants 20 WT teams, effectively closing the door to any wildcard invites in GTs, and also closing the door on any new teams entering the WT. So the very route that his team have taken over the last few years – injecting money, expanding its roster, securing race invites and proving (to some extent) its worthiness at the top level – is one that he now wants closed to anybody else. A little hypocritical, no?

    • Let’s be generous, he can see his team’s in trouble here and very likely facing relegation now and no team owner will shrug and be nonchalant about this, what can he say (knowing that while there might not be a force majeure clause, some riders probably have World Tour or quits clauses in their contracts)?

      But for all the complaints about the system and business models, I would also like to hear him talk about his team and the sporting decisions they had control over, like recruitment.

      • As mentioned above:

        1/ Even though Israel probably wont be World Tour anymore, they can hope to get the automatic grand tour invites if they bypass Total or Lotto saves itself and a team with less season points (EducationFirst) still relegates.

        2/ I dont see many racers leaving, as they have high contracts and are best in one day races. Nizzolo is the main racer that I can see leave.

        • Even without automatic invites they should still be able to get a lot of wildcard invites with riders like Nizzolo (Italian stage races), Vanmarcke (Flemish classics, including Roubaix), Teuns (many classics & some stage races), Woods, Houle, Clarke, etc. And that’s only counting those that are already known to have a contract for next season. For the TdF he would have to find a popular French rider, or someone else who can challenge for a podium spot.

  6. Going back to the last week’s discussion (comments have closed under that post).

    RV: “10-12 WT teams would mean eliminating at least a third of the best jobs in cycling”
    Larry T: “leave more places for teams of regional interest to the race organizers”

    Yes, it would eliminate those jobs. But the current model, with biggest races nearly full from mandatory teams (18+2 is 20 out of 22 spots in a Grand Tour), we do not lack top level jobs. We also don’t lack bottom level jobs (and non-jobs), there are nearly 200 UCI Continental Men teams registered. On the other hand, the middle level has serious problems and needs help. And every industry needs medium level jobs to exist.

    At the moment, we have 18 teams registered as World Tour and 17 as Pro Team. This is already a hint of an unhealthy state, no pyramid should have a top level which is bigger than something below it. In fact, it is even worse, something like 19-14 (Alpecin is operating as a de facto WT for a few years and Gazprom is suspended for most of the season). When we look at those 15 teams, only 3 of them are registered outside of 4 countries with a lot of local WT races. Uno-X (I’m quite sure their plan is going for a WT spot in 2026 by getting points in next promotion cycle), Human Powered Health (seem to be on decline, only raced Tour de Suisse at WT level this year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them drop down to Continental next year), Novo Nordisk (nowhere near Pro competitive level, they have the licence for marketing reasons and don’t even race a lot of .Pro events, let alone any WT).

    All of this happens because the UCI insists on having 18 de iure WT licences plus 2 de facto ones, on the other hand their peloton size changes (which happened for valid rider security reasons) mean that a Grand Tour has just 22 spots. And the organizer is much more likely to give those scarce wildcards to local teams. Other races are a bit better, with 4-5 spots available, but still it is very hard to get a reasonable calendar as a Pro Team without a lot of local WT level races.

    Serious reduction of number of WT licences awarded would allow for a breathing room for Pro Teams and allow for sustainable long-term existence of teams at this level in multiple countries. There are 7 countries in Europe and 6 more on other continents which have at least 4 Continental teams but nothing at Pro Team level. This happens because extra expenses of stepping up a level don’t give you guarantee of doing at least some big races. If we went down to 12 World Tour teams, we have 10 “free” spots in GTs and 13 in other races. Then they could be split between the UCI and the organizer at 7-3 and 8-5 proportion (the organizer getting a bit more, but not a lot more than now, the “local interest” teams are already doing reasonably well, the UCI getting more or less the replacement of no longer existing WT teams). Now, the most important thing (even more important than reducing the number of WT teams) is giving out those spots in a way that helps all Pro Teams, not just the very top (who anyway need this help the least). At the moment top 2 Pro Teams get something which is a 1 year WT licence in disguise, one more gets a decent consolation prize, but 4th place gets completely nothing.

    So, suppose we have just 12 WT teams but UCI also “owns” 7 wildcards for Grand Tours and 8 for every other WT race. Now, at the end of a season, all Pro Teams can get sorted according to UCI Team Ranking and get to pick the wildcards for next year. Top 14 pick a Grand Tour each, then top 7 can pick one more. For other races, all Pro Teams could draft the wildcards, starting with top of the ranking, by for example top half choosing 3 races in each pick, bottom half choosing 2, then going round until there are no wildcards left. This way every single Pro Team can plan their season knowing that they are going to race at least some World Tour races, making it much more likely that such teams will exist in more countries, and that some of those teams could plan to stay on that level long term on a basis of something else than relying on domestic calendar.

    • Sounds reasonable. However, every major change should also be reviewed from the point of view of the potential losers as well. There will be two teams losing their WT licenses now and you already get whining and treats of lawsuits. Imagine what would happen if you take away the WT licenses of 6 more teams? Many teams with large wage bills will be demoted, which would lead to a lot of riders getting their wages slashed.

      The current model looks like a ugly hybrid of the American franchise closed model and the European tiered leagues model with the added bonus of everything including team names plastered over with commercial logos (unless it’s sportswashing) Idiocracy-style.

      Still, in the long term, more lower tier teams having access to more higher tier races should be the goal and your suggestion goes in that direction.

    • I like the idea of distributing the choices for wildcard race spots among the Pro Teams… it would give some predictability, which is important for sponsors, while also making the order of selection dependent on each team’s UCI ranking (so there’s a sporting/reward element there too). I guess one of the hurdles in decreasing the number of WT teams is how this would affect sponsors: with 12 WT teams, 6 teams would miss out on guaranteed entry to the TdF and other big-ticket events, which would likely discourage sponsors’ interest. But this at least would be balanced by those 6 ex-WT teams having some say in the big races that they can do (even if they can’t all do the TdF etc).

      An interesting idea in any case

        • UCI already “owns” 20 entries into each WT stage race and 21 entries into each one day WT race. And they distribute them in a way that kills all but the few strongest Pro Teams. So the model I would like to see actually takes one entry from them and gives it back to the race organizer to invite whoever they want, while changing the way the remaining ones are given out, from 20 full packages + 1 consolation prize, to 12 full packages and all the rest spread among all Pro Teams, with better ones getting slightly more races plus first choice of which they want to do.

          • It’s a pretty solid idea. Otherwise, there’s no chance for new team to really compete in the next three year cycle. Less teams in the WT is better in my view.

          • Yes, formally all non-WT teams are invited by the race organizer. Currently it is 4 spots (18 WT, 22 teams max due to UCI peloton size limit rules). But two of those “invites” are, by UCI rules, mandatory (to Alpecin and Arkea this year), so the organizer has real freedom only with two wildcards (Giro had three, as Arkea decided they don’t want to go). And as two is very little, there is no chance any foreign teams get them.

          • It’s more complicated Wayne. Normally there are 22 teams and 18 are reserved for the World Tour. Then two invites go to the best two non-World Tour teams from last season, so Alpecin and Arkéa but these are invites, both rode the Vuelta but Arkéa said no thanks to the Giro. Which normally leaves two places but exceptionally they invited three.

            To add to this, some World Tour races can also have a national team taking part, think the UniSA team in the TDU.

            Also there’s small print to say a grand tour has to have one team from the host country, not a problem this year for the Vuelta with Movistar, nor the Tour with several French WT teams, but in Italy there’s no WT team so one of the two wildcard invites must go to a local team.

            Plus the amount of invites vary according to the number of World Tour teams, if it is shrunk to 16 (the plan one day, see “scarcity” above), then it’s automatic invites to the best three + three wildcards at the organiser’s choice.

          • @Jacek – I agree broadly with a reduction in WorldTeam numbers and more merit-based ProTeam invites.

            My solution would be:
            15 WT + 4 merit-based PT + 3 wildcard for tours
            15 WT + 5 merit-based PT + 5 wildcards for one day races.

            Rolling renewal of licences (e.g. finish 2023 season in position 1-6 and your 2023-25 licence gets replaced with a 2024-26 licence) would be necessary to improve stability, with shorter licence periods for mid-pack and lower ranked WorldTeams providing for more fluid movement between the WorldTeam and ProTeam divisions. At a minimum, every year’s #1 ProTeam must have the ability to be promoted to WorldTeam for the following year (if they want it)

            Merit-based PT positions would be selected using a weighted draft for the top 12 ProTeams to select their WT races to attend. #1 team would have first pick in each round and would get to select two races in each of the first three rounds of the draft, #2 team would get to select two races in the first two rounds, #3 team would get to select two races in only the first round.

            Team ranking points should also be the team’s best result on each stage/race, regardless of which rider scores it. This should encourage the racing to become more tactically aggressive as domestiques would be incentivised to go all in for their team leader, not to save something in case there’s a sprint for a minor placing carrying a handful of points.

      • I personally wouldn’t reduce the number of World Tour Teams.

        I understand that for new teams, it’s hard to really get good exposure though. Without starting rights in certain races, you don’t get the good sponsors or races, which you need to get those invites.

        I like the idea of giving the Protour teams the right to start in the bigger races, but don’t know if I would fully open it. It’s understandable that France wants to give it’s invite to Carrefour-B&B. Same thing goes for the Giro and the Vuelta. And in Belgium Topsport Vlaanderen and Bingoal are guaranteed a lot of starts.

        Maybe you could add some kind of lottery for all UCI-races? All teams that want to enter the Tour de France can enter that lottery, where you submit a pre-selection of 10 racers and teams with more points for those racers get higher odds to start? Although again, organisers are not going to like it…

          • The flipside is you can’t remove weak teams. Imagine if Arkéa-Samsic move up to the World Tour, don’t hire any new riders, Quintana fades, a disappointed Samsic pulls out so they can’t afford to keep Barguil and the experience proves a total flop (a bit of a downer, but it’s for illustration). There ought to be a mechanism to swap them out for a better team. Having a review every three years can work here.

            Plus you don’t allow WT races to invite locals, lots of teams exist because they get wildcards, eg Sportvlaanderen live for the Ronde, B&B for the Tour, Androni for the Giro, Euskadi for the Vuelta and Tour of Basque Country and so on, the idea is to have an open system where teams can do varying levels of races, so Jumbo-Visma can do a .1 race and BH-Burgos can do a World Tour rather than closed circuits.

      • The only teams who are seriously complaining are those who are likely to be left with nothing for next season (mostly IPT and EF). Those lower level WT teams, who would surely drop if there are only 12 WT spots, would likely become good Pro Teams, with decent chances for a TdF spots and nearly sure of at least Giro or Vuelta. While completely free to skip expensive trips to Australia/Canada/China, or even some European races which do not fit their plans and which they only attend because they are forced to (for example, do you remember the absolutely pathetic squad AG2R sent to Giro this year, where their biggest achievement was getting a 5th place from breakaway on one of the last stages?) Currently everyone holds on to the WT spot for dear life because getting into any big race without it is super hard, if this changes, teams will be happier to stay at the lower level.

        • The main thing is the moment they lose the guarantee of the start in the biggest races they lose the biggest bargaining chip in sponsorship. Some teams might stay near the same level if they have a big name rider to bring it in the sponsor but most would lose big sponsorship. Which calls into question if they survive at all. Its not just entry into the TDF which is of importance is guaranteed entry.
          I think the tdu largely underwrites the travel expenses and i would be surprised if the China races are different.

  7. Beyond IPT’s difficulties the UCI seem to have formalised Quintana’s elimination from the TdF GC results with consequent loss of points and other riders moving up a rung. Does this mean that the UCI feel on solid ground for their action and against Quintana’s appeal? Quintana also hasn’t been selected by his team since the TdF since though he is listed by PCA for the Worlds in Wollongong. Will he ride Lombardy and the Italian late-season hilly classics and help make Arkéa-Samsic’s WT place secure?

    • I’d suggest there’s no UCI view on this. They’re following procedure on Quintana, they’ve sanctioned him. He can now appeal and he is. But the Licence Commission is far removed from the UCI, remember it’s deliberately composed of outsiders, it is chaired by a former Swiss high court judge, the others work outside the UCI too. Quintana can ride, there’s no suspension but he dropped out of the Vuelta to prepare his appeal.

      • The UCI can set up an arms length committee to assess licences, but at the end of the day the UCI Management Committee are fully responsible for the terms of reference under which the Licence Commission operates.

        Last time around, they dealt with this by hastily drafting regulations giving the Professional Cycling Council the ability to grant additional licences once the Licence Commission was done with their work.

        The Licence Commission might have a little more work on their hands this time around when it comes to the other criteria though. Frits van Evers, the CEO of Jumbo who is directly responsible for the company’s sporting sponsorships (Jumbo-Visma, Max Verstappen, Team Nederlands Racing in which he drives a LMP2 sports-racing car in a Pro-Am category) is one of at least nine people arrested when the Dutch police rounded up a money laundering operation.

        • It appears the Frits van Evers arrest was not related to the Jumbo company though, so it probably won’t be any of the Licence Commission’s business?

      • I dont think Arkea will relegate, so they wouldnt need the points from Quintana nor appeal a relegation due to it.

        However, two teams gained points due to Quintana:
        Powless (EF) gained 20
        Jorgensen (Movistar) gained 10
        Uran (EF) gained 10
        Bettiol (EF) gained 5

        I dont think Movistar will still relegate.

        But if Lotto, Cofidis or BikeExchange relegate and EF has maximum 34 points more than them. I think they could go to court.

        If not, i think the Quintana thing will be a non-issue in the relegation-discussions.

  8. I’m not sure why people enjoy watching failed riders win stages. Carapaz winning three stages in the Vuelta is not interesting. He is a GC contender and that is what he should fight for. Of course if he is let up the road, and that is what it was, he was let go because nobody who is any good cared, he should blow the competition. Again, stage wins in a grand tour are mostly won because the good guys, the guys we want to watch, didn’t care to contest for the stage win. I want to watch the best of the best going head to head, the rest is just noise, especially a points battle which has nothing to do with the best of the best winning.

    • 100% agree. It’s the old Yates playbook. It’s a terrible sideshow in the GT’s recently. As much as I like Carapaz it was terrible seeing him win three stages like that. I’d rather see a flat stage bunch sprint.

      • Every flar bunch sprint you see means one less mountain stage where the GC could make attacks. Maybe things were indeed better back in the day when Cipollini or some other sprint king won nine stages and the GC riders would ride “maximum attack” on all mountain stages?
        But if we consider Carapaz in this year’s Vuelta: what should he have done after the first week when his performance had been mysteriously poor and he had lost too much time to fight for a podium place? To limit himself to riding as a super domestique to his team’s number two guy?

        • That would be my questions as well. If you clearly don’t have the form to challenge for a podium spot what do you do? Just go home and wait for the next race? Let’s not forget that Carapaz also took home the mountain jersey or shouldn’t GC guys bother with that either?

          • If I was Rodriguez, there were quite a few stages where I would have liked Carapaz’s help. I may have then finished 4th / 5th rather than 7th.

            Instead, we all watch Carapaz overly celebrate beating Marco Brenner and him berate Higuita repeatedly in to pulling – when he didn’t have the legs – to then just drop him anyway. Both rather class-less from an Olympic Champ, Giro winner who also holds a full set of podiums in GTs.

            I was left with the impression that Carapaz didn’t fancy a fight for red and chased personal glory through stages.

        • Listen, I’m clearly exaggerating. Doesn’t mean I have to enjoy watch a GT winner defeat much lesser racers on certain stages. And yes, he probably should have been helping Rodriguez who could have easily been 5th and missed 6th by 1 sec.

          • Is a lower GC placing preferable to stage victories? I honestly don’t know the answer to that but, I think if I were a racer I’d prefer 3 stages to 4-10th on GC. But as I say don’t know which is more valuable to the team.

          • I don’t know which race you all watched, but in the one I watched I saw a Carapaz coming back from a breakaway group to drag Rodriguez for the next 20km to the finish.…

          • Measuring by sponsor’s exposure, three stages are probably about as good as a podium and much better than finishing 5th. Who cares who finished 5th or 6th, anyway?

          • From a points perspective Rodriguez lost 200 points by slipping from 4th place’s 460 points to 7th place’s 260 points. Carapaz got 100 points per stage win & another 100 points for winning the KoM jeresy. So Carapaz gained twice as many points as Rodriguez lost. While Ineos aren’t a team having to ride for points this season, if they were one of the teams in danger then their strategy of allowing Carapaz to ride for himself rather than Rodriguez on several stages would have definitely paid off in gaining them more points. It’s also very debatable if Rodriguez could have held onto 4th after his crash, even if Carapaz had towed him up every remaining mountain. Maybe they also didn’t want to put all the pressure on Rodriguez in his first grand tour by having everyone riding for him. I imagine he would have been disappointed enough at slipping from 4th to 7th but it would have been even worse for him if the team hadn’t got anything else out of the race.

      • Not sure I’d agree – as others point out, what else was Carapaz to do? Stage 14 was great viewing, not only for Roglic attacking but watching Carapaz just holding him (and Lopez) off.

    • It can be worse than that: a rider can underperform on purpose, arrive to the finish in the grupetto and lose minutes just to gain the freedom to go in a breakaway and win a stage 🙂
      But (1) it’s still not a piece of cake for a GC rider to win in a breakaway, (2) spectators and TV viewers get two races for the price on, and (3) if the GC riders raced all hilly, mid-mountain and mountain stages to win, the racing and the entire GT we’d see would probably be quite different – and probably duller and less eventful – or we’d have GTs with twice as many flat sprint stages.

      But admittedly, it can be difficult to explain why, say, Dan Martin’s or Jay Vine’s stage victories can be exciting or, indeed, worth as much as a stage victory taken in a small group with GC riders 🙂

      The points battle between the teams is not something that I, for instance, pay any thought to during the stage or the one-day race. It is just something extra to consider later when I look at the results.
      Or when I look at the riders a team in danger has sent to a forthcoming race…

      • Like you said its not a piece of cake.
        Most GC riders that drop back and try to win stages never win a stage. More often than not they really struggle even when they get in a break.
        Although it is not as competitive as winning a 3 week GC battle its still hard to get in a break and win a stage on those stages where its expected that the break will go the distance.
        Adidtionally many GC riders are good at concistent riding with just a few minutes of effort at the end. They are not suited to massive efforts sometimes for 60 or 90 minutes at the beginning to get into a break. Having to do hard turns for hours and then finish it off with high effort for a few minutes to an hour at the end.

      • “Wright’s wrong”?
        Are you one of the TJV delusional “let’s blame an innocent guy for Roglic’s dumb sprint moves” team or Crashin’ Primoz yourself?
        I really had a lot of sympathy for Primoz as a rider, but he lost almost all of it after he came up with this alternative reality nonsense.

    • If you want to watch the best going head to head with the best, don’t watch Vuelta. The only 2022 GC race worthy of your frankly entitled demands is the Granon stage.

      Why people enjoy watching failed riders redeem themselves? Because of the redemption that winning a stage offers. Carapaz still had to beat other riders who wanted those stages – considerable feat indeed, if you take into account what winning a GT stage requires. Perhaps we expect such performances of GT winners, but they still have to perform, to ride the stage and win. Peak Pinot was probably stronger than peak Carapaz and he often flatters to deceive in such circumstances – where Carapaz succeeded.

      The huge majority of riders don’t ride a GT to actually win it – let’s say only 3-5 riders ride a GT to win it. Does that mean the other 180 riders’s race is a priori a failure?

    • Personally for me one of the things I like most about the Grand Tours is the multiple narratives across the 3 weeks. They are to me potentially like a good novel – so yes I’m interested in the end game but I’m also interested in the plot and how it develops, take delight in some of the ‘minor; characters and stories that help to illuminate the whole. The approach taken by riders like Thomas de Gendt for example always provides me with an interesting sub plot away from whatever is happening on GC.

      My 21 year daughter who has absolutely no interest in cycling has this year sat and watched a number of stages in both the TdF and the Vuelta. We have discussed tactics, why teams or individuals are doing certain things, the scramble at the start of a stage etc. She was genuinely interested. It’s so much more than just about a GC battle I think which is why I enjoy it so much.

  9. Could a solution for the 20 team thing be to promote as the current system is organised but give all relegated teams a one year entry. This might result in extra teams with the one year entry if you get 2 former WT teams and a pro team or 2 that got more yearly points.
    This is sort of like a golden parachute so the team does not cease to exist straight away but they have a year to qualify the one year entry.
    This would probably need approval from ASO because they have the real power.

    • You could but the same teams have had 2022 to qualify, it’s not been a surprise… and they’d get to the end of 2023 and demand the same again.

      We’ll see though, pro cycling has had several episodes where the rules get rewritten, as recent as the rule change that helped the Dimension Data team in 2019 and we had 19 teams in the World Tour for 2020.

    • That was actually offered last time around when it looked like Team Dimension Data (a team with very strong connections to the sport’s political structures) was facing relegation under the regulations in place at the time.

      A new regulation was added giving the UCI (not the Licence Commission) the ability to award extra full WT licence/s to existing WT team/s facing relegation but still placing 19th or 20th, and for a WT team finishing 21st or below to have one year of a mandatory wildcard entry.

      Dimension Data ended up making use of the first option, getting a WT licence for the full three years.

      ASO and RCS were kept on side by way of the extra WT spot coming at the expense of the second ProTeam mandatory invite (thus preserving 2 wildcards at the grand tours) and a guarantee that any requests made by the organisers to have a 23rd team would be granted.

      • Funny how one forgets the details, even the important ones! That was when the UCI had decided to decrease the number of WorldTeams by one, 2017 and onwards, and Doug Ryder made it publicly known he would go the Professional Cycling Council and if that failed, to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, wasn’t it.
        The UCI thought about it and decided to increase the number by one back to 18. Problem solved.

        In 2016 Team Dimension Data had won five stages in the Tour (Mark Cavendish, Steve Cummings) and this year Israel – Premier Tech won two stages (Simon Clarke, Hugo Houle) and Sylvan Adams is prepared to sue the UCI if needs must.
        History never quite repeats itself, but if it does…

        • I was referring to the shenanigans in 2019, when Dimension Data were placed well outside the top 18 on points and had the “19th team” rule invented for them. The 2020-21 seasons consequently had 19 WorldTeams.

          But yes, there was also their successful intimidation of the UCI into abandoning the 17 team plan three years earlier when they turned out to be the team in 18th place.

          Ryder should have kept it as the orginal Qhubeka-MTN team instead of chasing a move up to the WT division. Qhubeka was a popular team with race organisers (only the second Pro Continental team ever to race all three grand tours and all five monuments), the media and major companies queuing up for even a tiny square of space of their kit.

  10. It is about money and control. the team owners (IPT or EF or ___) are desirous of a USA type sports system where the rich can purchase a team and be in NFL or MLB forever with no risk of relegation just manufactured product and profit. ManU were trying to set this up with their European league (they are Americans after all). They want NO RISK for their investment. They control things. Banks get bailed out 2008 GFC and average people foot the bill. It’s the same thing… This Canadian (or Vaughters) demands NO RISK, he requires the system (UCI, CAS, whoever) to come in and fix his mistakes. They get all the upside and non of the risk. Maybe beyond the scope of ‘cycling’ but the principles are the same… cycling, football, European fuel contracts, etc. They tell you the little guy it is all above board but ‘they’ never lose.

    • I don’t think anyone who has ever formed a professional cycling team or bought out an existing team thinks of the money they’re spending as an “investment” in the financial sense which your comment assumes. You speak in terms of profit and write “They get all the upside and non[e] of the risk.” I’d love to know which cycling teams you’re aware of have been generating a financial profit for the owners? I’m going to guess you’re fairly new to the world of cycling as a professional sport. It’s basically a money pit sport with the only rational reasons for making the “investment” come down to vanity, obsession, and advertising.

      • This is a whole topic on its own. Teams have no equity in the competition/races, unlike most other sports. There are no gate receipts (except in cyclocross and track cycling). Teams have no equity in the media / broadcast properties.
        Yet here we are discussing how they get to keep their position in the sport’s top tier.
        It is not rational, so yeah it’s vanity.

        Good though, isn’t it?

        • UCI have an embarrassment of riches now with more WT teams then licenses (will the proposed “Paris Cycling Club” also wave wads of cash at the UCI?). A topic for another day is why the big bucks are flowing into pro-cycling now – cheap TV coverage? “greenwashing”? “sportswashing”? Or just a glut of cheap money used for self-promotion? Will Israel PT join ranks with another team to keep WT racing if the UCI relegates them? Astana have apparently had money problems, and what happens if Bahrain fall foul finally of the French police? Lots of unanswered questions to ponder on during the Winter. months.

        • Yes, I did, and I made it plain that the evidence is clear that no one gets into cycling team ownership f0r financial profit, because there is NO profit to be had for team owners, regardless of how the system is structured. Inring clearly explained, in the post he linked to from a few years ago discussing potential profit sharing within cycling, that even if the few profitable races (TdF primarily) shared fully half of their net profits with the WT teams, it wouldn’t begin to cover their budgets. It would amount to about $2 million per WT team. Professional cycling teams operate at a huge financial loss, period, and they’d still operate at a loss if the sport shared what meager profits there are. It’s inescapable that there is no built-in revenue stream for road cycling as there is for other sports.. The only rational justification for sponsorship is that there is advertising value (and of course there are what could be considered irrational justifications, but that just gets us further away from the idea that these rich, lazy team owners are in it for the fat, easy cash).

          Look, JE’s post was a bunch of naive, angry nonsense. Much as most people don’t like to admit it, most professional team owners (in any sport) are actually smart and capable people who inevitably have had significant success in some area. They may be arrogant, annoying, narcissistic, bullying, whatever, but they are not dopes, especially when it comes to money. Anyone can see from a million miles away that, from an owner’s perspective, NO system in cycling is going guarantee “manufactured product and profit,” and certainly not profit without risk, which is what JE claimed owners want.

          • I’m pretty sure some long-time successful teams that are not owned by their title sponsor (where the “profit” would be in indirect benefits for that company) operate at a profit. Nothing big, but enough that they can build a “reserve”, and can probably pay out some money to the owners if they want to (although in many cases this will be hidden as consultancy or other service invoices or similar to avoid taxes, I suppose).

            Nothing comparable to what is possible with some other sports, of course.

          • @JanC – I’m sure you’re correct and I’m willing to bet that Quickstep is one of those rare teams with a positive or at least on paper a near positive balance sheet. Of course, JE wasn’t talking about those teams, he was talking about Vaughters (who isn’t even an owner!) and Sylvan Adams. Apparently it’s only north Americans who are evil this way.

          • Lefevere is only a minority (20%, I think) shareholder of Decolef Lux, the main company behind the Quick Step team; the majority is owned by Zdeněk Bakala (a Czech-American billionaire), who also invested in other cycling/sports-related ventures (e.g. the Bakali Academy, which is also used by Quick Step, and where Patrick is on the board also).

            The company has made profits and losses over the years, but it’s unclear to me in how far it manages all the team finances (Lefevere & the riders are actually subcontractors & not employees, and other related companies might be providing services, manage portrait right, etc.).

  11. Post Vuelta it looks like Arkea is safe, but the Quintana drama still has them on the edge. Losing his Tour points and what would probably have been a good result at the Vuelta is a major curveball. I would have expected a top 10 finish and possibly a stage win had he raced.

  12. Attached is some data that one may find interesting.

    2022 Calendar – Location of One-day races (1.1, 1.Pro, 1.WT)

    Belgium 36
    France 28
    Italy 19 (12 upcoming)
    Spain 12 (0 upcoming)
    Germany, Netherlands 4
    Canada 2
    Switzerland, US, Japan – 1
    Australia, Norway, Denmark, UK – 0

    Separately – The results of 2021 were reviewed (across all the 1.1 and 1.Pro races)

    French Teams won 72% of the French races and 63% of the top three were from French Teams
    Belgium Teams won 72% of the Belgium races and 61% of the top three were from Belgium teams
    Italy – Italian riders were about 50% of the top 10 (teams were insignificant)
    Spain – Spanish teams got 20% of the top 3, and 30% of the top 10 were Spanish riders.
    This data was sourced from PCS.

    • It says that countries where one-day races (and cycling in general) are very popular, where most of the money for organizing such races comes from, and where more teams invest in riders that are good at such races, also get the best results in them, right? 🤔

      The solution for teams/countries that think they are disadvantaged is simple:
      1. Organize more 1-day races in those other countries, preferably ones that are attractive enough for the riders/teams. Strade Bianche and the Laurentian Classics showed that it is possible to create new successful races if you want to put in the work (and invest the money).
      2. Maybe have your team(s) invest more in riders for 1-day races.

      • Maybe some 1.2 races could be upgraded?

        What is the reason some organisers only have 1.2?

        They dont meet requirements for 1.1 or dont want to be a 1.1?

        • Almost certainly it comes down to money in most cases? Higher (minimum) prize money, TV requirements, hotel costs (might not be required or cheaper when there are more local continental/club teams), etc.

          And many of the countries without a lot of higher ranked races also don’t have a lot of 1.2 races, I think? It’s probably some combination of lack of money, a lack of organizational knowledge & lack of public interest? Also combined with companies/governments that don’t understand the possible RoI from sponsoring cycling races yet?

          Maybe someone can do a survey with those organizers some time?

        • 1.2 and 2.2 races have their own place in the sport, as the next step beyond national calendars into lower level international racing. The purpose is quite different to that of a more professionalised 1.1/2.1 race, and therefore it’s probably best to assume that a 1.2/2.2 race is run at that level because the organiser wants it to be run at that level.

          If an organiser has legitimate backing and a serious plan to move their race up towards ProSeries or WorldTour status, they should really be skipping 1.2/2.2 and starting off at 1.1/2.1 on the first edition.

  13. Lotto Soudal really didn’t clean up this weekend for one reason or another in the sprint races. Kind of think that’s it for them, that they can’t move ahead of BEX at this point.

Comments are closed.