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
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.