UCI Team Promotion-Relegation Review

With the Tour de France done, a chance to look at the team rankings. The situation’s urgent for the women with relegation and promotion at stake at the end of the season, less so for the men but equally important as a slow start in the first year can see a team struggle.

It’s also 1 August which in cycling means the two things for the transfer market, teams can officially sign riders for next year and announce this, it’s also the day the the transfer window opens and riders can move teams so watch for any moves here too.

UAE and Jumbo-Visma are well clear of the rest when it comes to scoring UCI points, with Soudal-Quickstep and Bora-hansgrohe arguably the relative underperformers. Lotto-Dstny and Israel-PremierTech got relegated but are riding high, they and other second-tier ProTeams are depicted in red above. Both teams have a star rider consuming a lot of budget who they want to move on if they can’t get results from, we saw separation talk go public during the Tour de France (here and here) albeit with different styles but both cases are priority issues for team management and owners to attend to. But away from this the rest of the squad is managing quite well, outwardly both teams look set to return the World Tour but perhaps via different routes, Lotto-Dstny have a pipeline of young riders from the development squad, Israel-PremierTech are more in the market for big names, they’re trying to see if they can unload Chris Froome to make room for Remco Evenepoel although the chances of this seem low and more concretely they’re supposed to sign Pascal Ackermann who will be by far their best sprinter… unless they sign a bigger name still.

For the men’s teams there’s a three year cycle and we’re only just past halfway through the first year so this shouldn’t mean alarm bells are ringing for teams below 18th place. Form comes and goes, injuries and illness can impact results but it’s not so much ephemeral elements and more structural problems with Astana and Arkéa-Samsic well behind already. Astana kept the World Tour licence despite a dire 2022 season, the team’s problem is they’ve continued without results and while Mark Cavendish gives them a nice story, and some ranking points as their top scorer, it’s not enough to stay in the World Tour at this rate, something else has to change. Arkéa-Samsic got over the qualification line to get into the World Tour but that felt like the end rather than a means to something more, they’ve not built up much. A rider like Kévin Vauquelin is promising as he can score on multiple fronts and he’s been injured this summer but wasn’t going to do the Tour anyway – and signing Arnaud Démare mid-season might help but he won’t have the same train nor performance support he’s enjoyed so far. All of this is a dynamic situation and Uno-X are closing in on these relegation candidates and they’re only going to get stronger. Signing riders like Andreas Leknessund and Magnus Cort gives them the opportunity to get results and points to match and climb into the World Tour for 2026 but with this comes more expectation, they enjoyed July as creditable invitees, soon a stage win will be the minimum.

For the women’s teams, SD Worx’s dominance is clear to see. They’ve scored more this season than Canyon-Sram have got last year and this season combined. For 2024 the best 15 teams make the cut for the World Tour so everything else being equal this means as things stand Israel-PremierTech-Roland and Human Powered Health go down, and up come Ceratizit-WNT and AG-Soudal-Quickstep as Conti teams depicted by the asterisks above. But it’s close with little more than 100 points between Uno-X above the line and Israel below it, but the Scandinavian team is scoring much more this season which suggests momentum is with them. However one wildcard angle is the future of the EF-SVB-Tibco team given Silicon Valley Bank’s gone bust. The men’s and women’s EF teams are not the same and it remains to be seen if EF as sponsor and owner of the men’s team takes over the women’s team, or if EF pulls sponsorship of Tibco to launch its own team which could leave the old EF team adrift.

  • Update: 3 August, 3pm – after losing SVB, EF is also pulling out to launch its own in-house team called EF Cannondale which will start at Continental level. Tibco has a world tour spot waiting if it can find sufficient sponsors for next year; if not then it frees up another spot in the World Tour

Midsummer moves
Rider recruitment is obviously a big way to get points but teams can’t buy in points, they can only sign a rider with the hope they’ll score. Take Arnaud Démare, his points earned this season stay with Groupama-FDJ. Once he scores points in an Arkéa-Samsic jersey then these will go to his new team. At least one report late last year said Démare wanted out of his contract after being told if he went to the Tour de France it’d be with a reduced train and his non-selection for the Tour was the final straw. A mid-season move like this suits all parties, a rider who was going to leave at the end of the season can move today, their old team doesn’t have a demotivated rider on their books. The surprising thing is this doesn’t happen more often these days. However it’s not so simple as all three sides have to agree terms – new team, old team, and rider, plus the UCI has to approve the mid-season move too and this can put a brake on things.

52 thoughts on “UCI Team Promotion-Relegation Review”

  1. May I ask what the asterisks by some teams’ names mean on the women’s teams graph? It’s interesting to see how some teams are performing very differently between the men’s and women’s teams (DSM, Quickstep, Movistar, Jumbo Visma) while others (Israel, Uno X) are near the bottom of the points in both categories. Trek is the only team managing to be near the top for both.

    • Read more carefully!
      “as Conti teams depicted by the asterisks above”.

      Although the graphs don’t display on my laptop for some reason, I presume they show that the women’s peloton like a split between SDWorks and the rest, because of their incredible strength in depth while the other teams just have one or two star riders. In that context I’m not sure relative positions are that important. The men’s competition does have a slightly more competitive look, even though Soudal-Quickstep didn’t win as much in the spring as we might have expected.

  2. DÉMARE move to arkea immediately confirmed on pcs with contract through to 2025season. His forthcoming race programmes also posted.

      • Er, I must have misread as I thought you were saying that it was anticipated that DÉMARE would be moving mid season not that it had already been announced.

    • Despite Démare things look difficult for Arkea-Samsic. I had read that Bouhanni was retiring and he hasn’t a contract listed for 2024. Given good health he could still be a regular point scorer but he’s proud so would he be happy playing second fiddle to Démare?

      Barguil is said to be moving to DSM which seems odd as he’s Arkéa’s only good climber while DSM already have Bardet and the improving Poole and Onley.

      I wonder if Madiot could change Pinot’s mind on retirement. He’s had a good season and is ranked 15th on UIC. Even at 33 he’s performing well to be hanging up his wheels and is one of the best publicity-getters in the peloton. Could he be – like Cavendish – tempted? He even looks happy.

      • Bouhanni and Démare don’t get on, or at least they didn’t and it led to Bouhanni leaving for Cofidis. Here Démare arrives and Bouhanni is likely to leave the team and they probably won’t race together this season.

        Barguil’s got their only World Tour win in years so to lose him leaves a space. It’d be a big move as he’s had a lot of freedom and returns to DSM where riders have to follow the team’s notorious internal procedures which are very prescriptive. But of course this worked very well for him in the past.

        • Demare going to Arkea is an interesting little follow on from the discussion on French riders in the Tour review comments. Demare is a pretty good experienced rider for the classics and grand tours, surely he would have had more than one offer if he had bided his time? What can Arkea offer him beyond a guaranteed start at the Tour? Because that’s all it will be, a start. Is that all French riders care about, being on the start line at the grand depart? And are willing to give up contention in every other race for that?

          • I’m not sure that many teams would have signed him, and Arkéa really need him more than many other teams given they’ve only got 4 wins this season, the worst record in the World Tour this year and comparable to the dire seasons of Astana last year (7 wins), Qhubeka in 2021 (5) and Movistar (2!) in 2020. In previous seasons the likes of Katusha and CCC scored this badly on their way to vanishing or EF almost folding. Also any team shopping for sprinters has had the pick of Jakobsen, Ackermann and more this spring/summer.

  3. Whilst the World Tour promotion isn’t for another couple of years, the two top-ranked Pro Team placings and and their guaranteed invites to WT races for next season. are also important. L-D and IPT look pretty assured there.

    • Good point. It shows how the World Tour is 18 teams + 2. The interesting thing is with Uno-X on the up.

      I didn’t mention it in the piece above but there was an interesting interview in L’Equipe with Astana boss Vinokourov a month ago, he was much more modest about the team even saying it was in keeping with Kazakh traditions not to flaunt cash so the team’s budget is less flashy.

      • I also can’t help thinking that if you get the 2 top spots and the WT invites, it potentially makes it much easier to be top ranked again the next season, given the scoring opportunities the WT races bring. Or put another way, harder for other PT teams (eg Uno-X) to break through and get one of those top 2 spots.

        • It’s mixed because you can score in WT races but have to go up against the WT teams who are more likely to win and you have to field teams for these races which means resources, energy etc. Teams that want to score find it can be more lucrative to go for all the .1 and .Pro races with less World Tour competition, eg we’ve seen Lotto turn down grand tour invites.

  4. I find it rather short-sighted to say that the men’s teams still have two and a half years. A point scored now has the exact same value as a point scored in 2025. And by then, every team around the line will be aiming for the low hanging fruit. Better to get it now when it’s still hanging low.

    • True but it’s human nature, expect panic stations in the peloton for 2025. A lot of riders and managers were fried from chasing points last year so said they’d back off a bit this year but as you say it might be easier to do this in a year when everyone else isn’t competing as much for points. All races are hard fought but in a relegation battle we’ll see teams put star riders into small races making it harder for all.

  5. Another wrinkle on the women’s side is the coming combination of Liv Racing and Jayco for 2024. It would mean one less World Tour team applying to stay up next year and space for another team in their place.

  6. Evenepoel is getting linked to a couple of moves. How likely is he to go? It would leave Quick Step with a fairly thin team reliant almost entirely in one day races on Asgreen if Alaphilippe leaves too. I would have thought Cort would have been an ideal signing for them.

    • He could move for two reasons, first is a big pay rise as while he’s signed a big contract, it’s not on the same value as some others like Pogačar although nor is his palmarès but it’s on promise. It’s also about the support he’ll need, if he wants to take on Vingegaard and Pogačar next July, the team looks lite and talk of signing Landa only reinforces this, he’s exciting sometimes but Señor Erratic, when Evenepoel needs a reliable rider.

      There’s also Patrick Lefevere and the others in the team, they could hold out for a big compensation payment from a team trying to buy out Evenepoel’s contract and the time to do this is when there’s still time left on the contract and while the rider still sizzles with promise of what he could win, he might be able to win the Tour next year compared to his value this time next year if he’s finished third or crashed out etc. But Lefevere only owns a % of the team so can’t fill his wine cellar by selling out and silent team owner Bakala is a billionaire so cashing in won’t change much either.

      • There’s also been some talk about Laurens De Plus (who’s already a sometimes training mate of Remco, and recently joined him in a R.Ev fan event…) going to the Soudal-Quick Step team as a helper for Evenepoel.

  7. It seems hard to me for him to move. Lefevere has let his classics team wither away to keep Evenepoel and Aliphilipe on the roster and support them. So if he leaves the team has nothing less. Aliphilipe leaving makes sense which would free up money for Evenepoel and some other riders. Even if it makes sense for Evenepoel to go to ineos surely any transfer would have to be priced mega high and very soon so Lefevre has time to splurge it on available riders before they are signed elsewhere. Evenepoel is surely worth more to a Belgium team.
    Truthfully i don’t see Evenepoel as a genuine favourite against Vingegaard who apparently is the best TT in the world so Evenepoel can’t take too much time in a TT to make up for potential lower level of climbing (up to now).

    • I think QS would be better off selling Evenepoel and investing the money in classics riders, as was always their thing. I can’t see him beating both Vin and Pog in the TdF, so is he worth basically ruining the rest of your team for? (I don’t see their aim being other grand tours, in the long teerm.)

        • Checking inrng’s 2012 overview of the Tour, there were just 2 TTs of 41.5+53.5 = 95 km total. Pretty light in TT kms, other than by comparison to the Tours since then. Seems it’s more that TTs have been progressively stripped from the Tour, continuing after Brad’s win, than that ’12 was engineered with extra TTs really. ??

          Personally, I’d like to see more flatter TT kms again, to bring back the battle between the powerhouses and the little climbers.

          A Van Aert should be able to contend for and potentially win a GT GC, just as Kelly could and did.

          • 2012 – 101km of individual TT (including the prologue)
            2011 – 67km of individual TT
            2010 – 61km of individual TT
            2009 – 46km of individual TT and 39km of team TT (so less heavily favouring a very good time trialist).
            So, 2012 stands out among the years before and after it.
            (The UK was a large prospective market. Also, Prudhomme had previously openly stated that they had altered the points competition as it was wrong that Cavendish had never won it.)

            I’d quite like the idea of a return of the flat TT, but only if they banned TT bikes and made them use regular bikes. The TT bike position seems to favour the small guys aerodynamically, and so even on flat time trials we see the top climbers dominating those. I don’t know for sure that that is the reason but bringing back lots of TTkm won’t bring back the battle between the powerhouses and the little climbers of yesteryear.

            Kelly says himself that the Vuelta was far less mountainous in those days. I’d be quite happy to see some less mountainous grand tours – would be an interesting and different challenge.

          • Feel like the small guys winning TTs is probably more about them just being stronger and having more fatigue resistance than classics riders/TT specialists. The Vingegaard’s of this world would struggle to win the world TT title unless it was very hilly but if they all had to race x days of the Tour de France beforehand, he would quickly be the favourite on any course.

          • +1 for TTs in stage races being ridden on regular road machines. If race organisers are looking for a ‘new twist’ this could be a good one? Would save teams money, possibly ‘greener'(?) and avoid the farcical bike changes that are creeping in.

          • 101 km of TT still isn’t that much by 90s and early 00 standards is it? Even less so by days before. TT kms have been shrinking and shrinking, ’12 bumped it up a bit again, but wasn’t historically unusual. Inrng had an article on this around then I’m pretty sure.

            100% agree on banning the TT bike. Stage races should be on the same bike, the whole course. More and more kinds of bike, and even swapping bikes mid-stage, is just pandering to the manufacturers marketing departments, who want to create demand for as many different things that we /need/ to buy to be fast! There’s no racing value to any of this at all – it just increases the costs of racing. Which makes the sport less accessible at the grass-roots level!

            Minimise the equipment factor, maximise the human factor!

    • The QS situation is odd, for years they have been the “top” team, through a lot of wheeling & dealing Patrick Lefevere created a very tight knit group of riders who were remarkably successful in the Spring classics (primary market for Belgian cycling). However he seems to have been caught up in the Remco Evenepoel hype machine. All his recent efforts have been focused on trying to create a team that could win the yellow jersey, never something he ever aspired to. If Remco now leaves in search of more money or more climbing support where does that leave him? You have to wonder whether the team would survive if Remco does indeed take the oil money of one type or other. Would he bring back Cav for a second time?

      • If you’re Lefevere you’ve won almost everything but the Tour so he’ll be keen to go as far as possible for this. The “wolfpack” relied on keeping riders hungry and giving them opportunities to take win and then seeing them move on for bigger contracts elsewhere. This is different now, they have renewed many riders who are starting to look like part of the furniture now and they often have to line up behind Evenepoel or the day’s leader.

      • It hit me about QS this tour, was that they pride themselves in being the “wolf pack”. But they just dont ride as a team anymore. It seems fragmented, where they used to be tight

  8. Pavel Sivakov’s move to UAE is very interesting. Despite the crashes, he has proved himself to be one of the very best climbing domestiques in the peloton and I’m sure a number of teams were after his signature. He obviously wants to be on a winning team and feels Ineos can’t offer him that chance.

  9. One has to wonder what INEOS are doing. They have lost TG Hart and Sinkov amongst other youngsters, leaving them with a decidedly ageing roster. They presumably have the budget, but seem to be missing the drive and motivation that Brailsford provided in the past.
    Unless anybody else knows differently?

    • Their raison d’etre was always winning the TdF. Bernal was supposed to be the guy who replaced Froome.
      Now they don’t have a guy. And there are only three guys who can possibly fit the bill. And good luck getting them.
      Hence, they’re rudderless.

        • Pidcock showed potential for the GC. He won the Baby Giro. He has surely tested by Sky^WIneos and shown massive aerobic capacity. He very likely could be a real Tour GC contender, if he focused on endurance for a few years.

      • There will be others out there, but I’m not convinced that Ineos are currently capable of either spotting them or nurturing them even if they already have them.

    • Tudor’s on the up, they’ve clearly got a deal to ride the Giro next year and are expanding the team with some bigger names.

      Storer was signed as a key rider for Groupama-FDJ but hadn’t got the results they’d hoped for, his win in the Tour de l’Ain and maybe more to come will be a good parting gift.

      • Apropos of nothing (but the possibility that it might be Storer´s next race before the Vuelta): Vuelta a Burgos (Aug. 15-19) would seem to be missing in your calendar.

  10. @Cd. My take is that Bernal, brave and courageous as he undoubtedly is, will unfortunately never recover his old sparkling form. Pidcock spreads himself too widely to ever excel in a three week race. With the exodus of so many of their young riders, INEOS are thin on the ground for a one week race let alone a three week race. Couple of decent testers and a couple of ageing stars do not a top team make! No rumours of top rate riders unless Evenepoel is tempted by a big payoff.

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