Battle for 2023-2025 WT licenses

I got summoned to make a thread about this so here we go...

As everyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the past few months knows by now there's a fierce battle going between a few teams to get a WT license for the upcoming 3 years. At the end of 2019 the UCI rewarded WT licenses to 19 different teams for 2020-2022. Wanty bought CCC's license at the end of 2020 and Qhubeka folded last year, leaving us with 19 WT teams as of right now. a few years back the UCI decided they wanted to go back to 18 WT teams from 2023 onwards. They would reward WT licences every 3 years based on few different criteria, one of them being a sportive one. This is where the UCI ranking comes in. The top 18 teams on the combined UCI ranking of the past 3 seasons will get a WT license for 2023, 2024 and 2025 if those teams fulfill the other criteria (financial and ethical). The only team that could have a problem with the other criteria is Astana, but in the past the UCI was pretty lenient in that aspect.

As of right now it looks like 2 PCT teams, being Alpecin and Arkea, will become WT next year and 2 WT teams won't get their WT license renewed. These 2 teams right now are Lotto Soudal and Israel Premier Tech, who are respectively in 19th and 20th position on the 3 year UCI ranking (see below). Other teams still in danger are Cofidis (15th), EF Education (16th), Movistar (17th) and BikeExchange (18th).

Raul Banquieri on Twitter is one of the guys (and probably the most reliable one) that keeps a close eye on and updates the ranking for us to see as it technically is a private UCI ranking (that's being sent to the teams every month). Note that only the 10 best riders of a team count for every years UCI ranking. This might result is some weird tactics at the end of the year.

Below you can see the update from this morning (after the Tour). Keep in mind that BEX took over 200 extra points in Spain today, they are in a really good flow and with Yates possibly being able to clean up the Spanish races they could come close to safety real quick. Movistar on the other hand took another big hit with Mas not performing in the Tour and also not getting his 150 UCI points after withdrawing due to COVID. Cofidis had a pretty bad Tour too but are the kings of performing in smaller races (together with Arkea). They don't win, but they have been riding for points for 2 and a half years now and they will continue doing it. Then there's EF who is the complete opposite, they didn't care at all about the smaller races and counted on their top rider to perform in WT races. That didn't really work out this year, which put them in danger. Vaughters has woken up tho and EF is now participating in more smaller races. With their selection a lot needs to go wrong for them to relegate.

Then there are the 2 teams most likely to miss out on a WT license for the next years. Lotto Soudal has had a shocker of a year regarding WT races. Ewan getting sick before his classics and crashing multiple times in the GTs hurt them. Biggest problem for them is that they only started focussing more on smaller races (where they can win) this year, while other teams that aren't really that good in WT races either like Arkea and Cofidis have been doing this for years. It's looking really bad for them, despite their big comeback in May and June. They don't have the riders to take points in the big amount of hillier races coming up. They do have a good squad for the Belgian and French races coming up in August, September and October but I don't think that's going to be enough. Israel Premier Tech on the other hand imo still has a chance as they have those riders with Woods and Fuglsang primarely but also guys like Bevin, Clarke, ... With Nizzolo and Vanmarcke they should be able to get a good amount of points in the flatter races too. They have a lot of ground to make up tho. Their biggest mistake was to let go of Hofstetter at the end last year. Someone who had been scoring tons of points for them last year already and did even better this year, but for another team.



The teams that don't get a WT license for next year still could get guaranteed WildCards if they're in the top 2 of the ranking below, being the best PCT teams. Right now it's looking like Lotto Soudal won't have a problem to get those Wildcards, but Israel is in a worse situation with Total Energies being in 2nd place. Israel (3rd) would only get guaranteed WCs to one day races (so no Giro, Tour or Vuelta). They are making up ground to Total really fast tho so I definitely could see them overtaking them. If Total gets a 2nd place that would also free up a spot for other WCs given by organisations. UNOX is definitely hoping on that as it could give them a shot at the Tour next year. Note that team PCT teams need to fight for those points every single year to get the guaranteed WCs for the year after.

 
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Really too bad that this is on so long as a 3 year basis. Based on the results this year, I would much rather see Lotto and Bikeexchange getting WT licenses for the next three years than Astana and DSM. Especially Astana is really crap now, and I don't see the potential for big improvement next season.
Do they weight results by year? If I'm hearing you, it seems like you think current-year results should be weighted more heavily, which I kind of agree with, although then you will get teams gaming specific years.
 
Do they weight results by year?
I don't think so.
If I'm hearing you, it seems like you think current-year results should be weighted more heavily, which I kind of agree with, although then you will get teams gaming specific years.
Still, that would be a better solution than having teams declining as much as Astana and still get 3 more years.
 
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Here’s the schedule for the remaining portion of the season. Personally, I feel like Movistar is in serious danger, which is the team most likely to fall into the relegation zone. They might not even get the WC spots mentioned above.
They really need Mas to ride a great Vuelta, and hope Valverde can get some good results in classics. Maybe Ivan Sosa can win Burgos? :tearsofjoy:
 
Yeah, that's why I said I kind of agree.

Perhaps something like 50% Year 1 points, 75% Year 2 points and 100% Year 3 points, or some other weighting that makes sense.
Tried that calculation. And it resulted in the following score:

Astana: 10284
Lotto: 9929
Israel: 9640
Bikeexchange: 9481
EF: 9411
DSM: 9181

There may be some small discrepancies there. I didn't get the exact same result as the official before applying the weighting forumula. Lotto clear and also Israel. But if the trend this season continued at least one of Astana and IRT would be "relegated".
 
Yeah, that's why I said I kind of agree.

Perhaps something like 50% Year 1 points, 75% Year 2 points and 100% Year 3 points, or some other weighting that makes sense.
This wouldn't be fair to event organizers, or riders. Salary contracts on the 3rd year would be more important than the others years.

The problem we have right now is that the one-day .1 and .pro races are more rewarding than GC in WT events, relative to the individual and team effort needed to succeed in them. This is in part to give up-and-coming teams a chance to get points.

Thus the result is that some teams send riders to .1 events instead of WT events. The point system is likely to be changed for next year to reflect this.

A further problem we have is that Covid is randomly, hurting some good riders.
 
So many of these teams are in a mess of their own making.

Israel - retirement home. Have brought through zero exciting talents in their history. Huge misspending even compared to their competition - the Froome contract alone should disqualify you from running a cycling team. Letting Hofstetter to go is another blunder.

Lotto - been in constant decline for over a decade. No team to speak of for any races that are even remotely mountainous, and it isn't like they're world class in flatter stuff. Spent lots of money on past-it Gilbert and Degenkolb. Only reason they're still in this is De Lie breaking all points records for his age group.

BikeExchange - have a grand total of four riders who can win anything even remotely big, yet have done so few smaller races these past few years. Too much emphasis on stage wins over one-day wins. Pretty hollowed-out squad in general.

Movistar - another team that's been on the decline for a while. More dependent on a guy in his fourties who is retiring than UAE are on Pogacar. Incapable of bringing through Spanish talent and also incapable of keeping non-Spanish riders happy. Probably the team least likely to survive the next cycle even if they hang on this time.

EF - Vaughters thinks/thought the team is above riding smaller races, yet they're bang average at the WT stuff. Not having a sprinter doesn't help either.

Cofidis - does anyone actually perform to their capabilities with them? Also a team that spends badly - Viviani being on stupid money was an especially notable example of both problems. At least their racing calendar is sensible...

DSM - fall out with half their riders. Without their brilliant 2020 season (half of which was the flukiest Giro ever), they would be right near the bottom, as it is they should make it.

And as bad as these teams are, we'd still be better off if one of them are saved by Astana folding.
 
This wouldn't be fair to event organizers, or riders. Salary contracts on the 3rd year would be more important than the others years.

The problem we have right now is that the one-day .1 and .pro races are more rewarding than GC in WT events, relative to the individual and team effort needed to succeed in them. This is in part to give up-and-coming teams a chance to get points.

Thus the result is that some teams send riders to .1 events instead of WT events. The point system is likely to be changed for next year to reflect this.

A further problem we have is that Covid is randomly, hurting some good riders.
I agree with all of this, but there is still the issue of giving a 3-year WT license to a team that is on a dramatic and continuing downswing.

To use an example from baseball, you might give a bigger/longer contract to a player who has batted .300 each of the last 3 seasons, than one who batted .360 in Year 1 but only .280 in Year 2 and .260 in Year 3. Worst case scenario is to give the second player a long deal only to have him bat .260 or worse for the duration of such contract.

I suppose another way to ameliorate this is to re-evaluate such teams after 1 year, perhaps on a trailing 3-year basis, and then perhaps make an adjustment for the remaining 2-years of the license. Or, you could give a 3-year license to the top 6 teams, 2-year to teams 6-12 and 1-year to teams 13-18.
 
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Movistar are now hitting a two-fold unforeseen problem for them, too. Firstly, that Enric Mas as sole leader for the future is a problem for this type of ranking thanks to his his tendency to accumulate results and live and die by the Grand Tours rather than rack up smaller race wins; this situation came about thanks to the López disasterpiece when they'd only just extended his contract, which suggested they saw that hydra-head as beneficial going forward) and while Astana did recompense them nicely for it, Aranburu, Rodríguez and Gorka for Supermán as a trade is kind of like a low first and a couple of second round picks for a high first.

The other problem is that the small Spanish races are nothing like as numerous as small French and Belgian races, and they are more tilted - as historically Spanish cycling has been - toward stage races than one day races which allow for easier accumulation of points. And the small Spanish races are also attracting a higher quality of field than in recent years as well, meaning they don't have an easy bank of points from sticking 4 riders in the top 10 of the Vuelta a Castilla y León or the Vuelta a Murcía or what have you.

I don't think they're a considerably worse team than they were in the early 2000s, during the period between Olano, Zülle and Jiménez and the period of Valverde et al. Remember the era when the likes of Aitor Osa, Paco Mancebo and pre-success Denis Menchov were their leaders, or their Vuelta GC bids relied solely on Vladimir Efimkin? They've just got to think wider. Do more of those smaller races outside of their typical calendar (in fact they have started that already, with success for Lazkano in Wallonie). And they also need to take a look in the mirror about how they are missing out on the top young Spaniards at the moment, like Ayuso and Rodríguez. That was fine when, if they missed out, those riders would just be at Murias or Caja Rural and they could pick them up as and when, but when they're at teams like UAE and Ineos, that ain't so likely anymore. Yes, Arrieta is in their system... but is he going to be as keen to move from KP to Movistar now they fired his dad?
 
Movistar would have been fine if Mas finished his races. That cost them about 600 points. I still think they'll be OK this year, assuming Mas finishes top 5 in the Vuelta and Valverde rides a borderline top 10. Then Valverde gaining points here or there in a bunch of one-day races. I keep picturing a scenario where he just barely saves their season with 6th place in Il Lombardia.

I agree with Brian Smith's comments that it's really stupid for the UCI to develop a system that hurts teams/sponsors that invest in the sport. Like now they're promoting women's racing more... but then relegate men's teams that also have a women's team? It looks like at least one such team will go down. Great way to attract sponsors and promote stability! Or, if they're set on limiting WT licenses, just limit it to the select few super-budget teams and let the race organizers invite the rest.

Edit: Oops I meant all of Mas's DNFs cost about 600 points, not 60 lol.
 
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Enric Mas crashing out in 3/3 WT stage races where he looked brilliant this year sure doesn't help either, nor him catching Covid, although top-10 at that point had slipped.

Mas needs to somehow find his 2021 Vuelta legs, and then it will all be fine.
I think the wear and tear of the accumulated crashes took their toll at the TDF. Even on the Granon stage where he shipped almost 10 minutes, he was with Pogacar and Vingegaard, and then seemed to have lost contact on the decent before the Galibier (unless I missed him getting dropped). He looked to have recovered somewhat on Alpe d'huez, and stayed with the leaders, but then completely melted every time there was a descent. I mean, he looked worse than 2016 Pinot going downhill.

It seemed to have really started at last year's Vuelta, when he looked great until the crash before the last week.
 
So many of these teams are in a mess of their own making.

Israel - retirement home. Have brought through zero exciting talents in their history. Huge misspending even compared to their competition - the Froome contract alone should disqualify you from running a cycling team. Letting Hofstetter to go is another blunder.

Lotto - been in constant decline for over a decade. No team to speak of for any races that are even remotely mountainous, and it isn't like they're world class in flatter stuff. Spent lots of money on past-it Gilbert and Degenkolb. Only reason they're still in this is De Lie breaking all points records for his age group.

BikeExchange - have a grand total of four riders who can win anything even remotely big, yet have done so few smaller races these past few years. Too much emphasis on stage wins over one-day wins. Pretty hollowed-out squad in general.

Movistar - another team that's been on the decline for a while. More dependent on a guy in his fourties who is retiring than UAE are on Pogacar. Incapable of bringing through Spanish talent and also incapable of keeping non-Spanish riders happy. Probably the team least likely to survive the next cycle even if they hang on this time.

EF - Vaughters thinks/thought the team is above riding smaller races, yet they're bang average at the WT stuff. Not having a sprinter doesn't help either.

Cofidis - does anyone actually perform to their capabilities with them? Also a team that spends badly - Viviani being on stupid money was an especially notable example of both problems. At least their racing calendar is sensible...

DSM - fall out with half their riders. Without their brilliant 2020 season (half of which was the flukiest Giro ever), they would be right near the bottom, as it is they should make it.

And as bad as these teams are, we'd still be better off if one of them are saved by Astana folding.
The most depressing thing about this is that all bar one of these teams are primarily commercially sponsored rather than plutocrat’s toy teams or regime sportswashing teams.
 
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Well you only get 100 points for a Giro or Vuelta stage win.
The relative value of a 1-day race win vs a stage win depending on the 1-day and the stage race classification is open to discussion. The fact the UCI got away with the current points system is proof of that. I don't think UCI would be able of ranking Giro/Vuelta stages the same as Tour stages without facing strong opposition.
 
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The criterion whereby only 10 riders count seems odd, at best.

Is it the best ten each season, or the best ten in total over the three years, regardless of whether they are still at the team?

Either way, it seems to set in concrete the idea of tactical support for team leaders over occasional opportunists, which seems unfortunate, at best. A team with a decent sprinter would actually be better off chasing down a lone break involving one of their riders if that breakaway man is not in their top ten.
 
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