UCI World Tour Promotion and Relegation Weekly

The end of the season looms and the promotion and relegation race is heading to an even faster conclusion. The glorious uncertainty of sport is what makes it compelling but Lotto-Soudal need a series of fluke results to remain in the World Tour. Israel-PremierTech require a miracle or failing that, a lawyer.

What’s Changed Since Last Week?

    • No change as Alpecin-Deceuninck and Arkéa-Samsic are due for promotion, Lotto-Soudal and Israel-PremierTech face the drop
    • Wildcard invites for the grand tours would go to Lotto-Soudal and TotalEnergies
    • Jumbo-Visma, Quick-Step and BikeExchange-Jayco were the top three scorers
    • Israel, B&B and Bora-hansgrohe scored the least
    • Cofidis and Arkéa-Samsic have been losing momentum and are tied on equal 17th place with 15,548 points, but they’re 943 points clear of Lotto-Soudal, a sizeable cushion

All through August and into September the story was how things were getting very tight with Lotto-Soudal closing in and the other teams feeling the heat. This has stopped, Movistar and BikeExchange have landed big results, notably Mas’s Vuelta and Matthew’s Worlds bronze and they’re in the clear and ou can see the line for these two teams bounding out of trouble. Meanwhile EF Education, Cofidis and Arkéa-Samsic have kept scoring here and there to keep cushion topped up.

Looking closer at the two relegation candidates we can see how both teams are falling away from the 18th place team when they need to be closing the gap to have any hope of staying the World Tour with weeks left. While it’s still arithmetically possible to stay up, Lotto-Soudal need 943 points just to close the gap, and winning both Lombardia and Langkawi would only land 500+200 = 700 points. Israel started September 950 points down on 18th place, they’re now 1,918 points adrift.

Israel’s problems are compounded because they’ve slipped further away from TotalEnergies in the one year 2022 rankings meaning they’ve got little chance of the automatic invite for the grand tours next year which is awarded to the best two ProTeams of the year, they’re now 974 points behind the French team after Peter Sagan’s 7th place in Wollongong. They can hope still hope wildcard invites and have a decent argument thanks to their performances this year.

On the margins of the World Championships the AFP news agency reported UCI President David Lappartient said the promotion/relegation system is not going to be altered this year, by implication Sylvan Adams’ call for 20 teams in the World Tour isn’t on the table. Lappartient said they could look at the allocation of points for the next round of 2023-2025 instead. But it’s not so easy, sure everyone can see it’s unusual that a Tour de France stage only has 120 points while last Sunday’s Paris-Chauny offers 125. But the Tour offers 1,000 points to the winner but the winner takes much more via stage wins and placings, the mountains competition (Vingegaard’s haul from the Tour was 1,760 points this year, Pogačar got 1,885 in 2021) so bump up the points for a stage win and you’d only make the Tour and the grand tours even more central, when others want rebalance the spoils. In short we can spot the problem but the solutions are fraught with unintended consequences, it’ll be something to chew over during the winter.

Animated bar chart race

Background info
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54 thoughts on “UCI World Tour Promotion and Relegation Weekly”

      • Also national championships count.

        Just checked if team might be inclined to hire racers from countries where there is not much competition for the national jerseys (time trial and road) for the points.

        However, this is maximum 100+50 points and as such shoudn’t have an impact on hiring strategies.

    • It is strange that the worlds counts but i guess it did mean that some teams were not afraid to send there top riders. For all the talk of the worlds being boycotted it was really only riders that were not going to figure much anyway and the worlds seemed to me to be just about as strong as normal. In any case no one race in the Calander gets 100% of the best riders. Not the TDF or roubaix. MVDP incident reduced the field more than the team boycotts.
      In an ironic twist teams that allowed some good riders reaped good points. EF and BEX as examples scoring points in TT and the road race. Considering how deep the points went in the TT, mixed TT and the road race in hindsight letting good riders attend was the smart move. Israel has several riders capable of top tens.

      • The UCI owns and promotes the Worlds so obviously it can allocate plenty of points, including the mixed relay and so on. But if they this I think it’s reasonable riders get the points and their teams too, the teams coach the riders all year, supply them bikes and so on. It’s been a difficult balance for Lotto-Soudal and Movistar, Arnaud De Lie could well have thrived in the U23 race.

    • Meh – none of the results were significant enough to have any effect on relegation, the potential complexities were not possible to work out while in the race.

      No national rider is going to pull at 80% vs. 100% in order to avoid helping a compatriot’s trade team avoid some points – maybe, possibly, who knows…

    • Conflicting loyalties in the Road World Championships have existed for far longer than the current WorldTeam licence criteria.

      So far as I can tell, Spain seem to be the only major team yet to have worked out how to sort it out like adults before race day.

  1. Some more interesting information on the relegation battle: https://lanternerouge.com.au/2022/09/26/israel-premier-tech-is-virtually-relegated-whilst-the-world-championships-save-ef-bikeexchange-relegation-battle/

    Some things to remember:
    1/ Arkea still has a decent chance of relegation as they are not allowed to start in many races while Lotto starts almost everywhere. A legal battle seems likely if Lotto surpasses them, with the Quintana points in mind.
    2/ Fuglsang talks about leaving Israel or retiring if they cannot start anymore in the most important races. I expect that will mainly be if B&B or Uno-X outscores them next season and also takes away their guaranteed invites to the UCI one day races. (I expect Lotto and Total to be the top two scorers of the season)

    • Arkea only have a decent chance of relegation in the courts, not on the road. As Mr Ring says Lotto could win the final Monument and the final big stage race and still fall well short of Arkea’s current total. I’m

  2. (1) It is far easier for me to see how Arkea could still get sore 50 points than how Israel could get 1000 points. The gap is not big, it is huge!
    (2) As I read it, Fuglsang is ready and willing to free himself of his contract at the end of the season. That is, he isn’t going to wait and hope that Israel gets a Tour invitation on the strength of this July’s two stage wins or the three rider names.

    One possible solution for the UCi and a way out of a situation everyone wants to avoid would be to relegate two teams as promised, but to award the three (instead of the two) next best teams (pointswise this year) with automatic invites,
    Sylvan Adams should be happy and it would be quite unsporting of him not to accept the fact that his team would have to perform well enough in 2023 to win one of the (then available for 2024) automatic invites.
    The only ones that obviously wouldn’t be happy would be the Pro Conti teams that hope or expect to receive the wild card invite that wouldn’t be available any more.
    The problem, of course, is that the UCI cannot walk over ASO and RCS.

  3. The points table seems to be a pretty good reflection of the strengths of the various teams. Astana stick out as being weak this year, I know there have been ongoing rumours about their financial situation and they were well nigh invisible in any of the races I watched. The system seems pretty fair to me, almost too fair in that a two yearly cycle might be more interesting and offer more opportunities for new teams. However the concept of relegation & promotion is a basic one in sport, it is never good to get relegated but the flip side is that it allows others to have ambitions to succeed. I am afraid I have pretty much zero sympathy for the various whinging from team owners in the past couple of months, they knew & agreed the system and had plenty of time to plan rather than try to run around at the last minute scrabbling for points, talking to lawyers.

    • agreed, its hard to see a team rightly claiming to have been better than their points haul indicates. the allocations aren’t perfect but they result in a reasonably fair ranking and if nothing else, everyone has known the rules of the game for years.

      DSM are the prime example of why a 2 year ranking might be better – their points reflect that they have done nothing the past 2 years, but thanks to a good 2020 they are safe through 2025. 1 bad year shouldn’t necessarily see you relegated but 1 good year definitely shouldn’t see you safe for the next 5 years.

      • I would favour rolling renewals of licences so that movement between the WorldTeam and ProTeam divisions can be a little more fluid and relegation would no longer be a death sentence.

        Instead of working in fixed blocks of three, award a rolling renewal of three years to every team that finishes in the top 3 teams each year, i.e. finish 2nd on the 2023 ranking and your 2023-25 licence is replaced with a 2024-26 licence.

        Two year extensions to teams finishing 5th to 10th.

        Finish outside the top 10 and you don’t get an extension. If that means you still have 1-2 years left (i.e. previous top team that’s had an off year) then that’s great, if it means you have run out of time then you have to compete for your licence with ProTeams applying to move up.

        Reducing to a 16 team WT division would be an important reform for revitalising the ProTeam division. Three automatic wildcards for stage races (19 total, returning one to the organiser from the current situation) and four for one day races, but to be distributed among the top 10 ProTeams from the previous year with a weighted ‘draft’ selection method.

        • I really like your thinking there Dave. Not fully agreeing though and have some suggestions of my own.

          There would be competition to be in the top x by all teams to secure a benefit for the racers.

          However, the system is crooked to me.

          First of all, every stage race, only the best racer his points should count to the teams total. We dont look at the top 10 racers, just every race we take the top scorer.

          In some one day races the top 60 gets points, that should be maximum the top 25.

          In 2.1 stage races, the top 10 should get some points. In Grand Tours this can be top 20 for me. You can increase points of the one day races to have the desired ratio.

          In all stage races, wearing and winning the side-classifications (points, mountain and youth) should get points, to increase the attractiveness of these.

          In 2.2 races and 1.2 races, why not allow ProTour teams to start? Points should remain relatively low though.

          Reducing the amount of WT teams to 16 could only happen after the 2025 season. But if you want to give two protour teams the chance to promote (as they should be able) it is too drastically. I would still keep 18 teams in 2025 but reduce the field to 16 in 2028 maybe?

          I love the draft principle, and already mentioned it earlier. If you still keep 18 teams, you could get more creative with the wildcards.

          There could also be automatic wildcards to all non-grand-tour stage races, such as Dauphine, Tirreno,…

          There also could be joker-wildcards: you can pick one of the three grand Tours, with a lottery-defined order. Obviously everyone will first choose the Tour de France, but then some teams get a chance of Giro and Vuelta this way.

          Same logic can apply for the one-day races (Ronde, Roubaix,…) each having one lottery-wildcard.

          You could or could not allow teams to sell or trade their lottery wildcards.

          • I have to disagree with the “only top racer scores” idea. What if a team has two racers in the top 10 of the GC? I consider that a major accomplishment, and it should be rewarded as such.

          • I definitely agree with ‘best rider only’ for each stage/race and have posted to that effect many times!

            The exception should be if you get the win and another podium place, then the team deserves both sets of points.

            Only a single rider’s points should count if they get two riders in the top ten etc but don’t get the win, because that would allow the team to earn more points than a team which achieved a superior placing. The team should have worked cohesively for one rider to win instead of racing against each other.

          • How about a rule then:
            – Top 3 of a race always score
            – Teams can only count one person outside of top 3 (makes sure the teammate still sprints in case of a breakaway group).

            If you get 1 2 3 4 you then get all points.
            If you get 3 6 9 you get points for 3 and 6. Its really worth it going for the podium then if you have 4 5 6 for example.

          • I could only see “top 3 plus each team’s best rider off the podium” working if there was a mechanism in place to ensure the winner scores more than any other combination of scores.

            So perhaps the points for a win worth 200 points would go down to the top 20 placings along the lines of 200-120-80-50-45-40-35-30-25-22-20-18-16-14-12-10-8-6-4-2

            But if any other team manages to stack the points positions and score more than 150 points, the winner’s points would be adjusted to that other team’s total plus 50, in recognition of the feat of beating such a strong team without other support.

  4. Hypothetically, if a team, Astana for example, were to fold, could Israel with deep pockets buy the license, like they did with Katusha, or would the next highest team on UCI points (Lotto) be promoted? I assume the latter.

    • Yes, if a World Tour team suddenly didn’t have any backers then the licence could be sold. An irony is this is exactly how Israel got into the World Tour, they bought the Katusha team licence for one Dollar or Euro, I can’t remember the currency but less than the price of a cup of coffee. They could do the same but would have to take on the roster, in your example any riders still under contract with Astana.

      • The same happened with BMC/CCC when they folded in 2020 because its last title sponsor the Polish shoe retailer CCC, pulled out due to financial difficulties resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and Jim Ochowicz then was unable to find another major sponsor. IWG then bought out the license of the former team. So strictly speaking the current IWG team is license wise not the same team as before as they took over the lineage of BMC/CCC and license wise the “old” Wanty team then ceased to exist.

      • Regarding Fuglsang, i interpreted the following sentence too widely:

        Q “Er det en mulighed at stoppe allerede til nytår, hvis holdet rykker ned?”
        A »Det tror jeg ikke.«

        When i re-translated it, it probably means he wont retire end of season, not that he would not leave end of season.

        Do you think Fuglsang still has high hopes for a grand Tour? Or would Liege Bastogne Liege be enough?

        Who would be takers for Fuglsang that can offer him a leading role in a grand Tour and a big salary close to what he gets with Israel? B&B-Carrefour? TotalEnergies?

          • Carrefour seems to be a guess from a French forum. When asked about it, B&B boss said he wouldn’t say who it was, but that it certainly wasn’t Carrefour.

            The problem seems to be that nobody knows who it is either, and talk of new signings and a women’s team to go with it has turned into a whisper at best.

          • Thanks. Indeed not as much news about the B&B team as expected. Curious to find out who that sponsor is then.

            There were some rumours Cavendish might go there with a sprint train, as he then has a semi-guaranteed shot at breaking the record of Eddy Merckx in TdF, but that is also still up in the air.

            Many other racers already signed, so much more big reinforcements seem unlikely.

      • For 2024, there are only 2 racers under contract with Astana: Loetsenko and a prospect. Highly likely they sell it then, and I think it will get sold for more than one euro since it is a licence without much contract obligations.

  5. Lotto’s relegation isn’t so much of an issue if they can keep De Lie and Ewan for the next three years. In that scenario, I’d expect them to do what Alpecin have done and get promoted on their own merits. Israel, on the other hand… where to start? What are the chances of a Tour invite? Pretty slim, just on the face of things. Would they be able to outscore both Lotto and Total (and B&B, Uno-X et al) next year to guarantee the top slot (and grand tour invites) for 2024? Maybe, but if they miss out again? Are they willing to slog it out for two or three years with no GT invites (and no guarantee they’ll be promoted at the end of it all)? Is this an actual cycling team or just a billionaire’s vanity project?

      • They should be able to offer good contracts, but the best racers or prospects don’t only care about the money.

        They want to start in the important races and have a good team atmosphere/development plan.

    • Both De Lie and Ewan are for sure on board for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.

      I think they will be highly coveted and only if they are top 2 protour teams in 2024 i see them staying with the wildcards in 2025.

      If De Lie really develops much further, becomes the first sprinter and prolongs, I could see Ewan leaving.

      Both would maybe negotiate a clause where they can leave if they dont make worldtour or wildcards, or sign for only one year.

  6. There are teams that race with no chance of getting useful points .
    Its not about how many points the team scores , is how many points their top 10 guys score,
    I see races , that none of the roster are near being top10 in the team,
    so if they score points they are useless .

  7. Silvan Adams hasn’t exactly done his team any favours – regardless of results I can’t see ASO inviting them to the TdF (or any ASO races for that matter) when he recently threatened to start his own tour. Froome isn’t exactly winning them any invites, an in form Fugalsang or Woods might but it looks like a pretty bleak situation to me. I wonder how many riders have clauses in their contracts to get out if they don’t stay world tour?

    • How many of those riders are being overpaid for their current performance level? Can’t imagine Froome breaking his 5.5 million euro contract to ride around in Grand Tour grupettos for a lesser amount.

  8. Fuglsang for sure has a clause to leave and considers it.

    ASO only has 1 non-French wildcard. I agree that ASO could also invite other teams, Euskaltel-Euskadi being the main candidate. But there is still a chance for Israel.

    Nizzolo seems the main asset they have. A big French name would make a big difference, but I dont see any of them still without a contract for next season.

  9. I’ve never been a big Froome fan, but I’d be a bit sad if he wasn’t on a team next year which is a possibility if IPT folds. It would probably make sense for Adams to shut it down if they’re not going to TdF.

    • Dont forget about the option of him buying the Astana license and merging the teams.

      Astana has 21 contract commitments for 2023, but only 2 for 2024. So maybe he tries to get the invite next year, or tries to become top 2 protour, and if he fails he takes out his wallet for Astana.

      Isreal has 23 commitments for next season, 12 for 2024. Combined they would need to fire too many racers for a combination in 2023, but for 2024 it seems like a perfect fit.

      Although there might be other suitors for the Astana license in 2024 (which comes with the Lutsenko contract and a talent from their development team). Oil-teams TotalEnergies and Uno-X for example, but also B&B or some other rich team.

      • There’s a lot of speculation about Astana, but the last public statements (from a few months ago, IIRC) were to the effect that “Yes, salaries were late, but it was a bureaucratic problem within the government, not an indication of any lack of commitment to the team.” Since the UCI is never transparent about these things until after the fact (see the Qhubeka NextHash debacle, for example) I’m not sure if Astana actually is having liquidity issues. Have there been any other public statements that I’ve missed?

        • It wasn’t exactly the first time Astana was late paying salaries.

          But there is also the investigation for “the forgery of documents, misuse of corporate assets, breach of trust, money laundering, and fraud” against Abacanto SA, the Luxemburg company that holds the Astana license, which is still ongoing, I think.

  10. Am I the only one shocked by the apparently cheap points on offer at the 2.1 Tour of Iran. Even I as an avid follower of the sport can hardly identify a single name from the PCS provisional startlist. Compare the the same rated Cro Race with a decent field including six WT teams and a multitude of well-known riders. Iran looks like a 2.2 race at best, or am I missing something?

  11. I’m not shocked or surprised. It is all part of the stated UCI goal of globaliing the sport. All Asia Tour races have a higher classification that they would deserve on the basis of the teams and riders on the start list.

    I don’t know if you missed it, but the relevant point here is that the two races in Asia (Tour de Langawi and Japan Cup?) are part of the UCI ProSeries. You won’t see any of the teams in jeopardy trying to win those cheap points in Iran.

  12. Apropos of nothing but does anyone know why Giro dell’Emilia isn’t televised/broadcast at all in the UK? All the other Italian one day races this coming week are, and every stage of the fantastically uninteresting CRO race.

    • I don’t know the actual reason, but it appears like they are an independent race organisation, so most likely the footage is not part of some package deal which they already paid for, and they didn’t want to pay extra?

  13. Lotto barely scored anything this week. (3 points for Van Gils in Emiliana and 5 for Kron in Agostoni). Luckily Cofidis only scored 40 and Arkea nothing.

    But chances will have gone down immensely.

    Lotto does not start in Vendee, where Coquard could get 125 points without too much competition (Demare, Venturini, McLay and Mozzato). Also McLay could score for Arkea. They were not allowed to start to protect the French teams?

    Lotto does start in Ardenne Classic today, but only can count on De Lie and De Buyst for points. (+Vermeersch/Campenaerts for a top 30?) Ewan is absent. Cofidis and Arkea also start, with Hofstetter, Swift and Capiot for Arkea and Zingle for Cofidis. Field is stronger than Vendee with also Girmay, Merlier, Nizzolo, Dupont, Turgis and Van Avermaet.

    Unless Lotto suprises (and the others don’t score) today and tomorrow, I guess the relegation race is really as good as over?

    In Munsterland tomorrow, Ewan is starting. Why not start De Lie and Ewan in both races, unless you really gave up? Bennet, Meeus, Jakobsen, Groenewegen, Welsford, Ackermann, Kooij, Allegaert and Barbier seem the main competitors.

    For Bernocchi, the startlist is still not announced.

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