The 2024 Points Race

We’re in Year 2 of the three year World Tour promotion and relegation cycle. Here’s a look at the current standings and the challenges for some teams.

A reminder that the system sees the points for each team added together over three seasons (2023,2024,2025) and the top-18 squads qualify for a World Tour spot for the next three years (2026-2028). In more detail it’s based on the points scored by each team’s 20 best points scorers. If you want to know how points are scored, see the UCI Points And Rankings Tables.

WorldTeam status matters, just. Teams want it but they’re really worried about not having it. Being a top team is a privilege in its own right, it attracts sponsors and riders alike. Above all it guarantees a Tour de France start for the next three seasons giving sponsors security that they’ll be at the event that can generate 70% of their annual visibility by some measures. Relegation can be problematic, some sponsors might quit and so might riders, there can even be break clauses in contracts in case of relegation.

Being in cycling’s second tier can be fine too, there’s just more risk. Each year the best two teams on the UCI rankings outside of the 18 WorldTeams can qualify for automatic invitations to the Tour de France and other big races, for this year Lotto-Dstny and Israel-PremierTech qualified thanks to their points haul in 2023. But this is down to results and rankings, rather than automatic. These teams might look to be in a nice place where they can also decline invitations they don’t want but it’s not so simple, they’re only an injury or crash away from being overtaken by a rival squad and so losing out on their invitations. Sponsors and riders alike may prefer the certainty of a World Tour calendar.

We’re seeing this right now with TotalEnergies, the team is starting to lose out on wildcard invites and Anthony Turgis has expressed his frustration this week that he can’t Milan-Sanremo or the Ronde van Vlaanderen, races he’s made the top-10 in. He might think about switching teams. Equipment suppliers might think the same too. Or as suggested last week, the team need to make some significant signings to stay relevant.

The Current Standings

Here’s the chart as things are with 2023’s points and those scored so far in 2024. It’s the same story as last year with Lotto-Dstny and IPT well inside the top-18 teams while Arkéa-B&B Hotels and Astana are adrift in 19th and 20th place and by over/under 2,000 points which is substantial. To use a cycling metaphor they’ve got a big gap to close, and even if they make it across to the likes of DSM and Decathlon they might be tired and find it hard to keep up with them. You can see several other teams who will be cranking their spreadsheets every week to track their standings.

Alpecin-Deceuninck are off to a poor start. Of course neither Mathieu van der Poel nor Jasper Philipsen have started their road season so they’ll score more. It’s interesting though that the others haven’t scored much in their absence but Axel Laurence, who has won for them this season, said it’s very different to his time at B&B when the squad was satisfied by a top-10 here and there and the points, now it’s all about victory.

Things To Look For
As it’s Year 2 of the three year system there’s either plenty of time to score or the jaws of doom are biting down hard already depending on your attitude. Teams doing well this season will be more relaxed next season while those suffering from a poor 2023 and off to a bad start this season will be thinking of recruitment plans already, never mind a promising project with a rider that might take more than one season, who can they sign who will score right away next year? A rider who will score next year needs to be signed this spring.

Arkéa-B&B Hotels are caught in a bind, they need to get back to hustling for points like they did in 2022 but as they’re now a World Tour squad they have to ride all three grand tours and so send riders to these races where points will be hard to come by. Astana have a great story with Mark Cavendish and his focus on the Tour de France stage record but they really need new signings like Ide Schelling, Lorenzo Fortunato and Anthon Charmig to score as best they can too.

What’s New?
The rules and points tables are the same but only the best 40 teams on the current year’s rankings are eligible for a wildcard invite next year. Right now Euskaltel-Euskadi are in 40th place, Total Energies 41st. These teams should move up inside the top-40 in the coming weeks and months as they race more than some Asian and American squads currently above them but it shows the challenge.

Next year things get much tighter with only the best 30 teams at the end of 2025 eligible for invitation in 2026. The logic behind this rule is to ensure only competitive teams are picked for grand tours and other big World Tour races and it’s going to have a big effect on the ProTeams, as cycling’s second tier will effectively be split in two between those teams eligible for the major races and those not.

A back story but one to be aware of. Plenty of teams of teams have the luxury of a wealth of points already and a strong roster such that they don’t need to count the points. But others are not so well off and have to keep an eye on the points. This isn’t a passive task, they’ll make choices for the race programs and even recruitment too.

Lotto-Dstny and IPT look set for a return to the World Tour and right now its at the expense of Arkéa-Samsic and Astana. But there’s a long way to go, we’re a month into the second season of a three year cycle, so less than 40% of the way.

29 thoughts on “The 2024 Points Race”

  1. I don’t know how Ineos have managed to have scored the 2nd largest number of points so far this season. Apart from Narvaez in his national championships & that Australian crit, they haven’t had any wins yet, have they?

    • Narvaez won the Panamerican Games road race last October… but as this was after the last day of the World Tour racing that year it technically counts for 2024 and there’s 250 points. He was second overall in the TDU which brings 400. He is well clear of their next best rider, Viviani on 137 and if Ineos didn’t have Narvaez they’d be 19th, between Bahrain and Astana but luckily for them they do, he should be handy for mores results in the classics and beyond too.

      • That’s certainly very handy for Ineos. Narvaez seems to be one of their few riders who has come out firing on all cylinders for the start of the season. That Viviani can be their second best rider shows that the rest of the team’s recent performances have not been that good, given Viviani has not exactly been brilliant on the road in recent years.

  2. I think Astana have made significant changes and will do better this year, same with Decathlon-AG2R who are off to a good start.
    I think DSM has made significant signings as well, but I wonder how they will do this year.

    The difference between 18th and 20th is 2,055 points. 2,055 points more than 18th gets you to 11,157 just above Movistar at 12th. So any of those last 6 teams could be considered at risk if they have a “bad season.”

    But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arkea drop back down in 2 years, they seem to be generally weaker than other WT teams.

    • I think Arkéa look doomed although in sport surprises can happen, that’s part of the charm. If relegated they could be one of the strongest squads and so the penalty might not be too heavy if they can establish themselves as the 19th team but Tudor, Uno-X and Q36.5 will challenge. Arkéa have lost big scorers and not replaced them with like-for-like signings. Démare and Sénéchal are welcome but more is needed and they might want to target Monuments when management wants them to score in smaller races. Albanese and Mozzato can be very useful for points.

  3. Although the top 30 requirement might restrict the wild cards a bit is there much of a history of teams outside the top 30 being picked. At the moment the depth seems high with 2 extra near world tour teams plus some pretty well funded or targeted budgets. But generally once you get to team 25 the drop off is huge.
    I guess some French or Italian teams in the past may have been outside the top 30 and get invites.
    Perhaps this may have more of an affect for world tour races outside of Europe where they invite locals or don’t get 100 of the world tour teams in attendance. Does this affect some of the races which have a local “national” team.

    • The top 50 (2024), top 40 (2025) and top 30 (2026) rules only apply to the three grand tours.

      Top 50 is not a restriction at all, as there are no ProTeams outside the top 50 teams.

      Top 40 is not a genuine restriction, last year only one ProTeam was outside the top 40 (Flanders-Baloise, 42nd) and the grand tour organisers wouldn’t invite them anyway.

      Top 30 could be a problem for the Giro, as it won’t take much going wrong for there to be no eligible Italian teams to invite. The only Italian teams in the top 30 last year were Green Project – Bardiani CSF – Faizanè (24th) and EOLO-Kometa (27th). The precarious situation of Italy having a bunch of great races but rubbish cycling teams could lead to the UCI and RCS having to sit down and work out how to resolve a clash between the top 30 rule and the rule requiring grand tours to have at least one team from the host country.

      Other WT races will still be able to give wildcard invites to ProTeams which are not eligible for grand tour invites … and could well find requests for invites from those teams landing in their inboxes as they hope to race their way into the top 30.

      National representative teams at WT races outside BEL/ESP/FRA/ITA/NED are not affected as they are not part of the rankings for trade teams.

        • But with Movistar they do at least tick the box of having a minimum of one Spanish team, and they won’t have to admit to Spanish cycling having descended so far that they need a derogation to get one team on the start line.

          • Sadly (or not), despite public declaration, the state of Italian pro cycling as such, i.e. outside their races, never mattered too much to RCS.

            Just give a deeper backward look at the wild cards: the Giro has always been proportionally less supportive to home teams than TDF or Vuelta, with the 2020-2023 years being an exception of sort.
            They tended to always leave out (at least) one relevant Italian to get foreign ones, normally for commercial reasons, that is, priorising other financial deals, even when those foreign teams weren’t especially meaningful in sporting terms.

            It’s indeed a mystery of sort how Italian athletes could still keep a decent presence among pro ranks, it both depended on the widespread Italian technical figures in various WT teams and on deep grassroots. Most Italian cycling institutions, both public and private, as well as political ones, did the bare minimum (or worse) for this sport which should be perceived as a national heritage… there are exceptions of course, normally working hard for pure passion’s sake.

            But that also shows how resilient is a bottom up approach vs. top down limited strategies.

          • Besides, even if for “scaramanzia” I shouldn’t really be writing this, your worries (although legitimate in absence of a WT team) also look just a little paranoid when checked against factual figures.
            Even in the last (dire) decade with no WT teams, Italy has always had at least a couple of teams in the top 30 (I used as a proxy PCS points instead of UCI rankings for the seasons when the latter wasn’t available).

            So they really should jump from “steadily two” to “zero” in order to end up in the scenario you sketch above. Just as one of them can go down, another one might climb up, which is what has been happening in real life, be it only because some sets of races and the classification as such are a sum zero sort of game.

            It’s also worth noting that, oh, how random is life, only the two countries which are clearly favoured by the point assigned to their races for comparative value, i.e., France and Belgium (as showed here like thousands of time), can afford to keep more Pro teams than Italy in the top 30 through the years. Surely pure chance!
            No need to say that although having none, one, or two at most, teams in the top rank, the other nations which are steadily leading the sport in recent years, i.e., Spain, Netherlands, Great Britain, then Denmark, Colombia or Australia, can’t support a proportional second-tier scene at such a level (as in, two Pro teams steadily in the top 30)

  4. Poor Arkéa-B&B are all too dependent on one rider (Démare) for points. If he should become ill or injured they will struggle even more. Just compare with UAE (en extreme example) who yesterday lost A Yates, but who have cover in Pogacar, Hirschi, Almeida, McNulty, Ayuso, Sivakov, Wellens…all potential big points scorers. It doesn’t seem fair. Even Jayco, apparently not rich, have S Yates, Mathews, Ewan and Groenwegen and look much better placed to cope with misfortune.

  5. My calendar says today is February 22. With MSR’s countdown clock still showing 22 days before IMHO the real cycling season begins, it seems a bit early for anyone to be worrying about a “points race” but I understand there’s not much to talk about so….

    • On or around February 22, 2021, the owners, GMs and DSs of Israel – Premier Tech and Lotto – Soudal were probably quite convinced that it was too early for them to be worrying about the points race…

        • IPT are taking it a bit more seriously this time around.

          They were the first ProTeam to line up for the Tour Down Under since automatic invites first became a thing a few years back, and they then went ahead and won the race.

          Lotto weren’t interested despite having an extremely good history at the race. The team is a shadow of what it used to be.

          • IPT have a decent team with potential in all types of races: pure sprints, punchy, hilly, mountain…. with in almost all cases cover in the case of illness or injury. They should have budget to freshen up and strengthen the squad even more for 2025 with Froome and (probably) Fuglsang off the books. Will they be disappointed with Ackermann who has slipped from a top level sprinter to something less over recent years. Maybe he needed a change of team though Vernon must be IPT’s top sprinter with Strong and Hofstetter just behind.

          • The Froome and Sagan deals in recent years are landmark deals in my mind!

            Froome timed that deal so well to land hefty contact just before it became abundantly clear he’d never compete at the top again – whoever bluffed their way through the negotiations deserves a medal – if he and his family weren’t set up for life already they are now and I can only applaud them taking IPT to the cleaners.

            To be clear I’m sure Froome was convinced he could recover and there was no deception involved but given the state of cycling at the moment it does feel like he pulled a fast one.

            Sagan likewise… in a way you should always bet on proven winners but as a fan there’s not a chance in hell I’d have gone for Sagan after seeing the changes that were happening at that moment – you could feel his mojo was gone – but hats off to him as well for a gold standard project cash in.

      • OK, fill me in on what tragedy befell these teams on that day. Last time I looked they were still operating…both then and now as rather minor players in the grand scheme of things.

        • The point, such as it was, was simply that three years ago we were precisely at the same stage of the three-year points system and no one seemed to worry too much about whether their team would have enough points to avoid relegation at the end of the 2022 season.

          It´s unlikely that there aren´t too many team bosses among the minor players who are not spending at least some of their time thinking about how to race to win as many points as possible, what races to choose and so on.

          And I´m bold enough to suggest that both Lotto and Israel would rather be WT teams today…

          For some cycling fans and spectators the points race is *one* of the many, sometimes a little peculiar but strangely captivating aspects of road cycling. It´s not the main course, of course, but following it doesn´t take anything away from our enjoyment of the races we watch.

          If you are not such a fan, you can skip the chapter, so to speak 🙂

  6. Froome earns far less than the reportedly 5 millions at IPT. That was dependent on an extra sponsor signing up which never materialised. On the other hand, I don’t imagine him to be much less than 1 million mark.

    • I know not to trust headline figures on any deal didn’t know anything about the additional sponsorship etc – where did you hear this? Is it for sure? Thank you for mentioning.

      • As much as I dislike “Il Frullatore”, I gotta hand it to him for scamming the Israeli/Canadian Donald Trump out of all that money. Another ego-driven blowbag throws away a fortune.
        Airline, university, football team, casino, bike race…what else has “Orange Nixon”s reverse-Midas-touch lost $$ on? How long with IPT stay around? Will PT take things over and install adult management?

  7. A late comment – interesting to see the organizers at Gran Camino want to be able to offer more UCI points to attract higher quality teams. Be interesting to hear what the UCI say.

Comments are closed.