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
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.