World Tour Promotion-Relegation Rankings

What do you see in the picture above? Three cyclists on a podium? The Flèche Wallonne podium? Right now some team managers see 400, 320 and 260 UCI points as they and their teams aim for promotion to the World Tour or worse, stress about relegation.

An update on the promotion and relegation standings as we’re now about halfway through the three year cycle. The relegation contest is raging and if it’s not front page news, well you’re already reading a niche blog about the sport so you’ll probably be thinking of this contest when looking at results in the coming months…

Relegation reminder
It’s a three year process between 2023-2025 based on the sum of each team’s rankings for each year. The top-18 teams qualify for a World Tour place, a World Tour team below 18th place faces relegation. Riders score UCI points with race results and a team’s ranking is based on the total of its 20 best scorers.

Here are the current standings for this week. We’re almost exactly halfway now in the three year promotion/relegation cycle because the season is lop-sided with more points in the first half of the year than the second half thanks to a denser calendar and more World Tour events. The red line signifies the promotion-relegation barrier.

Let’s start with a quick look at the top of the table. UAE lead to the point of distorting the chart, if they weren’t so far ahead on the x-axis the gaps between others lower down would look wider. So here is the scoring for 2024 only, WorldTeams in blue, selected Proteams in red:

We can see Visma-Lease A Bike’s relative woes here, last spring all that was missing was the Ronde and Roubaix and they rightly made plans to fix this, now they’re well short of rivals UAE and instead scoring similar to Lidl-Trek and Alpecin-Deceuninck, top table but not table-topping. Bahrain start the year with a big cushion but have not been scoring much.

Promotion candidates
Lotto-Dstny and Israel-PremierTech scored well in 2023 and have kept on doing so, even if the Belgian squad didn’t score big with Arnaud De Lie this spring because of injury and illness. Both are consistently scoring more than some World Tour teams.

Uno-X are the best of the rest and have expressed ambition to move up but start from behind this season and need to score more, they’re roughly 3,000 points short of the red line today.

Relegation battle
Going to the relegation battle Arkéa-B&B Hotels and Astana are below the line. Both started the season in 19th and 20th place but Astana have scored few points since, Alexey Lutsenko won the Giro d’Abruzzo but it’s a 2.1 race and his GC and stage placing haul brought 150 points; team mates Christian Scaroni and Simone Velasco have scored more placing here and there. Collectively they don’t yet have 20 riders with UCI points.

Arkéa have picked up speed lately, this year they’re they 11th best team but hampered by last year’s bad start. New signings Arnaud Démare and Florian Sénéchal haven’t been scoring much, instead Luca Mozzato is their big winner with over 1,000 points today with 640 from finishing second in the Ronde.

DSM Firmenich-PostNL is only 500 points above the relegation line. Two of their three top scorers Oscar Onley and Warren Barguil are now out with injuries. After Astana they’re the other team not to have 20 riders scoring. It’s not a big deal if a team has a 20th rider with 1 point, it’s more about the top scorers but shows how they’re all finding it hard going to score. They need a good Giro, with Fabio Jakobsen, Romain Bardet and Max Poole able to score. The Firmenich corporate merger and the arrival of PostNL has come with talk of budget increases so they could buy themselves out of trouble too.

If Astana have the lowest score this season, of the current 18 World Tour teams next come Cofidis. They look only have a small cushion above DSM and ought to be worried. Top scorer Bryan Coquard’s had a more discreet start to the season but you can see in races he’s having to do more work for himself, the team has lost engines (and scorers) like Max Walscheid. Guillaume Martin is picking up pace.

Movistar can’t be sitting comfortably either. On paper Enric Mas should score in the summer but his traditional Tour-Vuelta combo is risky, a window to score big but it means he often doesn’t score much before and then it is subject to him avoiding illness and injury. Ivan Sosa should pick up some points too.

There’s still a year and a half to go but Lotto-Dstny and Israel-PremierTech look like solid promotion candidates, they did well last year and have kept this up. If anything they’re improving, Lotto are uncovering more talent like Maxim Van Gils and Lennert Van Eetvelt.

Promotion of two teams comes at the expense of two others and here Astana though have the proverbial uphill battle and to extend the metaphor, not enough climbing power to win it. They looked doomed although Lotto and IPT show relegation isn’t the end of things: if we can see Astana sent down to the ProTeam ranks, the question is really about their long term stability, do there sponsors settle for this? If they can sit 19th or 20th and harvest invitations thanks to some marquee riders it’s a sweetspot.

The other relegation spot is not easy to call from this far out. Arkéa are below the line so the obvious candidates but starting to score wide, DSM ought to have the quality to stay up but sport can be unjust while winless Cofidis look weak all round. So there’s a contest to watch in the coming months.

40 thoughts on “World Tour Promotion-Relegation Rankings”

    • They certainly stand out in the graphics as best improvers, could be new sponsor buzz, winning momentum or maybe just regression to the mean after a couple of relatively disappointing seasons in 22 & 23

      • It’s several factors, the new bike has been well received as the old one was getting a bit old but is it for real or placebo, either way it’s something mentioned by the riders. Management knew last season was rotten and tried to refresh things. Plus probably some luck going their way, it happens. Plus on the points side O’Connor and Cosnefroy are scoring as expected but it’s the rest of the team that’s taking plenty of points here and there, their 20th rider Retailleau is on 53 points, no other team except UAE has this depth of scoring.

  1. Nice timing of this (both halfway thru, and after the results at FW) – thanks inrng.

    Just wondered – could you colour-code or hatch the bars somehow so that the non-WorldTour (or WorldTour) teams stand out? Would be useful to have the distinction highlighted somehow.

    (Also, at risk of over-complicating, might be interesting to see the rankings for the current season. eg a (1) in brackets for UAE after ‘11,840’, perhaps.)

  2. I was wondering about the relegation competition towards the finale of Fleche. Seeing Uno-X approaching the finish with 4-5 riders still present in the smallish lead group led me to wonder if it was an intentional strategy on their part to get a lot of riders into the top 20 for points.

    • Yes as the only team with no DNFs they got 220 points total between them, same as 4th place and making them 5th best team on points at mens Fleche

      • This shows the deficiency of the current team rankings system.

        The team should get the points of their best result on any given day, regardless of whether their best rider was their 1st rider on the individual rankings or their 21st.

        It will promote more aggressive racing if domestiques are not forced to leave their leader isolated early because they need to keep something in the tank to race for 30th position in the final.

    • Good insight… hadn’t considered this!

      Actually, I heard the Uno-X DS was cloud seeding above Huy to ensure such atrocious weather, knowing that this would eliminate many cold-sensitive riders while leaving their arctic hardmen unfazed. They’re probably hoping for a cold, freezing LBL : )

  3. “Collectively they don’t yet have 20 riders with UCI points.” That’s the most succinct appraisal of everything that’s wrong with Astana that I’ve read anywhere. It’s really difficult to see how they avoid the drop, and they don’t seem to be trying. With both Lotto and Israel, you could see them fighting to stay up, even if it ultimately didn’t work. When they were relegated, both teams were already had a “score points” mindset, and have performed consistently since then. Astana don’t seem to have any strategy at all, beyond trying to win a Tour stage with Cavendish.

    • Astana have a good bunch of riders for hilly races, think Battistella, Velasco, Scaroni, Charmig, Schelling. These riders should be scoring more and possibly pulling ahead of, say, Cofidis but it hasn’t worked yet, and the concern for them is that a lot of the .1 and .Pro early season one day and stage races suited them – eg going all in for the Majorca races – and now it’s harder. Cavendish should be racing again soon and scoring probably as well.

  4. Now that Lotto and IPT have proven that getting relegated is not the end of the world can we scrap the overly cautious and long winded 3 year system?! I find it hard to follow and unnecessarily drawn out, and I’m an avid follower of a ‘niche cycling blog’ (your words!).

    Plus, if we are going to bother with this, should we not follow a riders points table? Should we not at least show who has scored what after each race? At the end of literally every cycling race I have ever watched, a few minutes after the finish TV pans to a helicopter shot of the finish location and shows the top 10 finishers with total time for the winner and + whatever minutes/seconds for everyone else. Why not, after 20 seconds or so, then show how many points they’ve scored. Then show updated tables. Just an idea. If we’re going to do something we might as well do it properly..!

    • I lean towards keeping three year licence periods in the interest of promoting stability, and not destroying a team with a solid history just over one or two bad years.

      The reform I would like to see is making that a rolling process where the top teams can get a three year extension every year (e.g. get 2025-27 on the basis of 2024 performance, then extend to 2028 based on 2025 performance) and there’s a chance every year for the best Pro Continental team to move up.

      Following that, reducing to 16 WorldTeams and expanding the offering of merit-based invites to revitalise the Pro Continental division would be next steps worth taking.

    • Lotto and IPT have arguably had the right response, to continue almost as if they are WT teams. The system helps as well, they get invitations as relegated teams. I’d suggest that because it’s not been as calamitous as some team managers said (“sponsors will quit”, “riders will trigger exit clauses” etc) it shows it works, teams wanting to stay in the sport can stay and at the highest level.

      The points table on TV is an odd thing because the teams and UCI really didn’t want it made public last time around, the idea being that any focus on teams in relegation danger is bad publicity for them. Now I won’t be getting an irate phone call from the UCI, the data is public. But you need to crunch the numbers; they used to allow their rankings to be exported into a spreadsheet but even turned this off so an extra hurdle.

      • What we’re saying here then – with the 3 year period for insurance against a bad year/bad decisions, and none publication of who is failing – is sporting competition without jeopardy.

        • It allows a bit of organic growth and stability in the teams in question, rather than the you’ve been promoted and now have to spend crazily to maintain it for more than the one year and if that fails collapse a whole team, see the B&B hotels fiasco as the most recent example.

      • Must admit this all gives me a bit of a headache, am I misunderstanding or has the World Tour Ranking (current season to date) as opposed to the World Ranking (rolling 52 weeks) ceased to exist officially? I’m sure both were on the UCI website a couple of weeks ago but I can only find the World Ranking now. Maybe the WTR only spontaneously comes into existence like a Schrödinger’s energy gel in the UCI’s back pocket at the end of each season?

    • I like the idea of showing the points scored at the end of each race. I usually look them up on Pro Cycling Stats if I want to know, but that’s a bit confusing because for some reason the site has its own points system as well as the UCI’s so you have to make sure you’re looking at the right list.

    • Those 2 teams have survived but quite a few teams possibly would not. Even though they did not get a WT license they did get invites to all the races as the next 2 highest teams so they have not lost much visibility. IPT is sort of owner operated so its a bit different and lotto gets essentially auto entry to the belgium classics and probably the tdf anyway.
      But the process is still very important to the teams on the fringe. Some teams like EF, Trak, Bora if they lost the WT license would almost certainly lose sponsorship leading to immediate offloading of riders and maybe the entire team folds. I would be surprised if the corporate sponsors did not have a clause regarding WT license.
      For the teams just out of WT trying to break in like Tudor or Q36 a WT promotion would immediately mean they can go get a bigger sponsorship because there visibility is more confirmed with all the big races and tdf guaranteed. So for many of these teams its a huge deal.

      • Especially Lotto had a safety cushion with regards to invites to races, because let’s be honest: it’s a large Belgian team so they are a certainty to get an invite for all the Belgian races.
        On the other hand, due to ending as best non WT-teams the automatic invite means that they can choose which WT race they want to compete in and they are not obliged to ride them all. They can pick and chose and leave the races of their roster where they don’t have a real fit for or who cost them more in money than in return. In that way Lotto choose not to compete in the Giro d’Italia both in 2023.

  5. Many thanks for the overview and analysis, as always. I have been hoping for this update. Due to Arkéa-B&B’s strong classics season, the relegation battle now looks much more open than expected. As one of the small WT teams, it must have been very gratifying for them to score two second places in really big races and win one of the smaller classics, and Démare hasn’t even really started scoring yet. I had expected that they would merely boss the odd Coupe de France race during the spring, so this has been an interesting development to me, and it confirms that there is considerable talent in that squad. As pointed out in your post and by others, I don’t understand Astana’s strategy, if there is one. Are they maybe winding the team down, hoping to go out with the headline-grabbing story of a Cavendish TdF stage win? That would be kind of a strategy, I guess.
    A very minor editorial point: you mention a red line in the first diagram, but there doesn’t seem to be one. It is clear that it should be between rows 18 (DSM) and 19 (Arkéa) though.

    • Thanks, fixed the chart colours at the suggestion of Tricky Hawes above but left out the line, now it’s back. But people might have to refresh browsers etc, if it doesn’t show immediately it’s between DSM and Arkéa.

      Astana had a bad year last time, they’ve tried some recruits this year to score but it’s not delivering big. As you say the Cavendish story is a nice one but not bringing points. Vinokourov gave an interview a while back saying it was the Kazakh way not to be flashy with money, ie his team budget is limited unlike a decade ago.

  6. Cofidis is having an especially dire run nowadays: 1 finisher in Flèche Brabanconne, 0 finishers in Amstel and 1 finisher in Flèche Wallonne: a tenth place for G. Martin. Also the cobbled classics did not deliver them many noticeable results (but they did manage to finish those with more than one rider). Something seems to be really off there

    • Thanks for the update!
      Visma’s normal GT hauls this year will hit by injuries. Good news that Cofidis have extended sponsorship until 2028.

      • Also the losing Roglic, he scored everywhere for them last year, wasn’t the Vuelta the only GC race he didn’t win?

        Visma’s Vuelta points haul (5264) alone would have them 6th in the 2024 points race, which is bonkers

    • The problem for Cofidis is looking at their roster for 2024 things looked difficult, they lost Lafay, Walscheid and Rochas got some points for them last year. And no big signing, Hermans, Elissonde and Oldani can score but they’re not prolific.

  7. I find the whole promotion / relegation system rather pointless. There’s no real jeopardy like there would be if losing WT status meant only being able to take part in lessor races.

    As it stands IPT and Lotto can still enter all the major races and if Astana get relegated they’ll still be there with IPT and Lotto as newly promoted WT teams.

    There’s no fight to top the points table and be ‘champions’ as per football leagues. Indeed the whole system seems invented purely to give the UCI some sort of relevance and purpose.

    • See Brent’s post above from 8:26 am. Or just read some of Inring’s many posts about the nuances of the subject. You’re correct, it’s not an immediate death sentence for a team, but it is far from being pointless.

      Comparison with football leagues (or F1, or American football, or . . . ) are regularly made here, usually to no useful result. These are fundamentally different sports, and different cultural contexts, different histories, different business models, and so on. That said, many of us find the fight to get into or stay in the WT at least diverting, and at times fascinating. YMMV.

  8. I might be in the minority, but I’m a fan of the points race. I really enjoy seeing the different approaches, with some teams farming the smaller races (see: French teams in French races) and others just trying to be generally competitive (like EF). I also like the way one big result in the third year of the cycle can throw everything into doubt (or hope) for the teams around the relegation zone. All good added drama for me.

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