Battle for 2023-2025 WT licenses

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I think cycling has simply evolved, inevitably, from its grass roots to have to accomodate a global demand. The solution, as ever in the European system, has been a cut-throat pass/fail praxis (no grade inflation here). The downside, of course, has been untoward instability. Although, in principle, I prefer results over moneyed privilege. At any rate, big investors who spend unwisely get the shaft and, deviously, I'm all for it.
This is it, though, really. American sports are based on the franchise idea, such that balance is redressed through drafting and a system geared around preparing people through minor league affiliates and college systems for that draft, whereas sports in much of the rest of the world are built around a jeopardy program, with promotion and relegation, as a meritocracy where the worst performing teams are replaced by those at a lower level, and so independent (i.e. non-affiliate) smaller teams have more raison d'être because they can rise up to become the best, and consequently there's no option of coasting for the big teams with their status secured because too much poor performance and you lose your spot at the top.

It's not to say that one system is better than the other - it's just that it's very difficult to implement one when the other is established. It's nigh on impossible in the big American sports leagues to realistically introduce promotion and relegation without completely dismantling the affiliate system, and at first almost all of the teams outside of the top league would be full of the prospect players of the top league teams, so would never be able to achieve true independence; meanwhile in systems with promotion and relegation, locking off the top division would completely kill all investment in the lower leagues, while implementing a draft to enable teams to remain competitive would be nigh on impossible because of the difficulty in setting eligibility.

Vaughters got stick for his idea largely because he was trying to have his cake and eat it; he had built his team from a middling ProConti team up to the top tier by utilising the European/South American-style meritocratic promotion system - but then wanted to implement an American style closed shop to make it impossible for him to be relegated and to stop anybody else achieving precisely what he had (and of course it didn't work, as DSM are the successors of Skil-Shimano and Bora-Hansgrohe of Team NetApp, two other teams that did just that).
 
Attached is some data that one may find interesting.


2022 Calendar - Location of One-day races (1.1, 1.Pro, 1.WT)

Belgium 36
France 28
Italy 19 (12 upcoming)
Spain 12 (0 upcoming)
Germany, Netherlands 4
Canada 2
Switzerland, US, Japan - 1
Australia, Norway, Denmark, UK - 0

Separately - The results of 2021 were reviewed (across all the 1.1 and 1.Pro races)

  • French Teams won 72% of the French races and 63% of the top three were from French Teams
  • Belgium Teams won 72% of the Belgium races and 61% of the top three were from Belgium teams
  • Italy - Italian riders were about 50% of the top 10 (teams were insignificant)
  • Spain - Spanish teams got 20% of the top 3, and 30% of the top 10 were Spanish riders.
This data was sourced from PCS.

I want to highly compliment the race organizers for the large number of races they support. Obviously, we know that some countries also have GC races so the full number supported by each country is higher.

Most importantly It stands out that there is a statically significant advantage for French and Belgium teams in their own races.

It seems like the insiders; the French teams and Belgium teams knew about their home-field advantage and set up the relegation system with the assistance of French UCI President David Lappartient and the French-based ASO.


If we think about the world as a whole and bike markets - why would it be beneficial to have 4 (5) WT teams from France and 4 WT teams from Belgium?

It would seem like some accommodation needs to be done to make the system reasonable - for moving up or down - so that a team from anywhere would have a shot, and not be required to relocate to Belgium or France for 3 years - and focus primarily on one-day races.

It is beneficial to the WT to have international representation and not over-reliance on teams from two countries. It is unfortunate that we don't have an Italian WT team, although they are still partially supported.
 
I'm not sure it's so much of a geographical statistical advantage as even Israel Startup have their HQ in Girona so can race any lower ranking Belgium or French race. However, clearly a team like ISN have to race every World Tour Race, a team like Arkea Samsic doesn't. Below World Tour level the obtainability of a teams points is very much determined and indirectly controlled by the race organisers national interest aligning with the sponsors, often with direct relationships with the teams too at national level, when it should be entirely the UCI who controls who races where and how often more as a fixture so a ranking makes competitive logical sense.

At its most extreme contrast you have ISN winning two stages of Tour de France facing relegation from World Tour whereas a team like Arkea Samsic who didn't win in the same race (and even skipped Giro to race smaller races instead) can rank more highly. I'm not saying Arkea do not deserve their ranking position, they all knew 2 years ago how it was going to play out, but it's a faux ranking distorted by National interest, sponsor interest and the ability of race organisers to decide who races where to a certain extent below the World Tour level where points are easier and disproportionally more rewarding lower level race success and team performance.
 
This is it, though, really. American sports are based on the franchise idea, such that balance is redressed through drafting and a system geared around preparing people through minor league affiliates and college systems for that draft, whereas sports in much of the rest of the world are built around a jeopardy program, with promotion and relegation, as a meritocracy where the worst performing teams are replaced by those at a lower level, and so independent (i.e. non-affiliate) smaller teams have more raison d'être because they can rise up to become the best, and consequently there's no option of coasting for the big teams with their status secured because too much poor performance and you lose your spot at the top.

It's not to say that one system is better than the other - it's just that it's very difficult to implement one when the other is established. It's nigh on impossible in the big American sports leagues to realistically introduce promotion and relegation without completely dismantling the affiliate system, and at first almost all of the teams outside of the top league would be full of the prospect players of the top league teams, so would never be able to achieve true independence; meanwhile in systems with promotion and relegation, locking off the top division would completely kill all investment in the lower leagues, while implementing a draft to enable teams to remain competitive would be nigh on impossible because of the difficulty in setting eligibility.

Vaughters got stick for his idea largely because he was trying to have his cake and eat it; he had built his team from a middling ProConti team up to the top tier by utilising the European/South American-style meritocratic promotion system - but then wanted to implement an American style closed shop to make it impossible for him to be relegated and to stop anybody else achieving precisely what he had (and of course it didn't work, as DSM are the successors of Skil-Shimano and Bora-Hansgrohe of Team NetApp, two other teams that did just that).
Yea, the two systems are, as you nicely expressed, fundamentally incompatible. Moreover, cycling has always been based on a rotating door system of title sponsors, in which x corporation buys in for x number of years, usually because said corporation is either directly invested in the cycling industry or has an owner mad about the sport - pick your examples. Then it remains contractually on board for only as long as annual profits, publicity and advertisement returns justify the budget expense. In the pre-globalization era this could be substantial for national, even regional, companies that considered investing in pro cycling as part of the strategic planning of their businesses. When cycling was still basically a continental European affair, the system was thus buoyed by grass roots, often family owned, brands (from automobile to salami manufacturers, etc.), which, as a matter of national pride (and local market interests), kept funding pro cycling teams for years, even decades. By contrast, in the age of globalization corporations often remain only nominally French or Italian, etc., but are owned by foreign investors whose only interest is driving up profits in expanded markets. In other words, the almost quaint home-grown and grass roots aspects that gauranteed a certain stability and corporate replenishment in cycling, has given way to an increasingly unstable environment in which title sponsors pulling out often leads to a crisis when a dearth of new financial backers, offering a paucity of funds, inevitably results in teams folding. In this sense the sport has remained within the mentality of local tradition, even as it has gone global, but without adapting its business model to new market demands. And the title sponsors must assume all the burden of expenses, without benefiting from the profits generated by headline events as franchise sport teams do. Oleg Tinkov was vexed over this (not that I'm his fan).

But how would cycling adapt to a francising model? It does already have leagues so to speak between World Tour and Pro-Conti levels, which, however, aren't firmly ensconced within metropolitan identities that gaurantee huge profits from TV broadcasting rights enhanced by stadium ticket sales and the whole business of amphitheater shows. By contrast, there are no stadiums in cycling - the towns and roads being its great caveae and arenas - thus no ticket sales, no amphitheater spectacles (except for track racing obviously), for which it's unlikely you could have a Manchester United or a Real Madrid or Milan cycling team. And the profits from broadcasting rights don't go to the teams and their title sponsors, but to the race owning Ltds, their shareholders and the governing body of cycling that organize and offer the calendar of events to qualifying teams. In this sense, unlike the francise system, cycling teams don't own a piece of the action of their sport, whose title sponsors therefore only stand to see a return on their investments by participating in premier events. So in this globalized world, also given the meritocratic points system instituted to promote or demote teams based on results, without the stadiums and all the rest it has become increasingly arduous for the movement to attract big, long-term investors; especially now since the costs of running a World Tour outfit have skyrocketed from when the sport and its race calendar were more or less confined to a handfull of Continental nations. In the absence of a marquis rider, furthermore, such as an Evenepoel in Belgium, to draw in big funding from national companies, which is particularly dire for Italian cycling, even having a World Tour team becomes impossible with the running costs involved.

So perhaps it's more urgent to make reforms to the cycling business model, ensuring that teams and their sponsors share in the overall profits that races like the Tour generate through TV rights and commercial publicity, than changing the points system because of a disgruntled owner who invested poorly on washed-up has beens. That might work for Barnum and Bailey circus freak-show side act, but not the circuit of World Tour racing. Although the one doesn't necessarily exclude the other, perhaps. Because if the teams by right share in the profits generated by races, then things could evolve into a kind of francise system (along the lines of World Cup football?) that would make the points one obsolete and investing in teams more attractive to the big corporations.
 
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Reactions: Bolder
The fu**** wants to ban relegation forever. Why does his not very good team/organization deserve eternal World Tour license? Why is it correct to lock the situation now and not give other teams the chance to become World Tour teams? The level of entitlement is ridiculous. Spoilt little kid.
Permanent licenses should be award to the original ProTour license holders who would be free to auction them off (or hold on to them if the bids are too low).

At least then EF wouldn't be WT, most likely.
 
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The whole racing for points thing is really against the essence of cycling, mainly in one day races. If we need to have points in one day races, maybe just for the best placed rider on every team?

Otherwise you have situations like with the Italian PCT teams a few years ago, when they were racing to win the coppa italia to secure a Giro wildcard. Instead of trying to set up one rider they always tried to keep as many as possible in the front group, to maximise the points and situations when 3 guys from the same team all ended up sprinting on their own.
 
Three week stage race tour of North America instead of boring TDF, can't wait. Early mountain stages in Mexico and maybe some tough hot days in Yucatan, chaotic windy days on the plains in the Midwest and Giro style 250 km hard stages in the Appalachians. Then through Montana into Canada and some endless stages through the forests, final week in the canadian and american Rocky Mountains and last stage in Utah as tribute to David Zabriskie.
 
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Three week stage race tour of North America instead of boring TDF, can't wait. Early mountain stages in Mexico and maybe some tough hot days in Yucatan, chaotic windy days on the plains in the Midwest and Giro style 250 km hard stages in the Appalachians. Then through Montana into Canada and some endless stages through the forests, final week in the canadian and american Rocky Mountains and last stage in Utah as tribute to David Zabriskie.
I had the idea a while back of a "Great American Road Race" which would be bid on less by stage towns and more by regions, because a GT of North America is just not possible to do logistically without losing the character of a Grand Tour. The whole thing is that the Grand Tour format has kind of been developed around the geography of the countries that hold them. That's why I think that if the entire cycling calendar was removed tomorrow and a new one built from scratch, the three countries that host Grand Tours would be prime candidates to host them again. A Grand Tour that only tours a bit of a country (e.g. Tour of California) doesn't feel like a Grand Tour because the scope doesn't feel big enough (even if the geographic area is big enough), but then if you have a country so big that you can't reasonably cover a significant amount of it in three weeks of racing, it doesn't feel like a Grand Tour either because you haven't fully 'toured' that country. But if you take out the "Tour of the USA" type name and make it a sponsor concern, like the Coors Classic or the Tour Dupont (and to show this is not an anti-US thing, also events like the Clásico RCN, Clásico Banfoandes and in older times the Milk Race), it doesn't feel like a Grand Tour because of being more artificial, like, it can only exist so long as that sponsor is in on it. As a result, I think there's only a relatively small number of places that could viably host a 'new' GT that would feel right, with the geographical diversity and the ability to cover a large % of its territory, plus the infrastructure and so on to host the race, facilities to include mountaintop finishes and similar, and so on.

My idea was therefore that you could have a travelling carnival of a race that rotated around different parts of the US so it would always be quintessentially American but would vary in character from year to year. One year it could be in the East and North East, using the Appalachian mountains and the courses of the Philadelphia Criterium and the Richmond World Championships, one year it could be in the south and use Brasstown Bald and the mountains of the Carolinas and Tennessee, one year it could head down from the MidWest and finish in one of these mountain ranges (the problem is that very dull terrain in the centre of the US, remembering dour races like the Tour of Missouri), one year it could use the Pacific Northwest with Washington State, Oregon, Idaho and around there, one year it could start in Texas and work west through New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada to California, one year it could be in the central mountains like Utah, Colorado and Wyoming... but the problem would then be that it would be hard to establish the lore if you couldn't go back to particular places year upon year, especially given how cycling is nothing like as ingrained in the consciousness of the US as in France, Spain or Italy other than in particular cities and areas. And of course, certain areas that used to be iconic would not be as good designs when adapted to modern cycling even if I might be a sucker for tradition and feel the biggest problem with the USAPCC was the lack of the Morgul-Bismarck Loop and the Tour of the Moon.

Doing a regional type tour would enable them to include a few crits and the likes. I've always felt one of the biggest problems of all American stage races since the Armstrong era started was this determination to produce a facsimile of the Tour de France on American roads, rather than produce something that was characteristically an American race the way that the Coors Classic had been (whether its intentions may have been the same or not). It's why Utah always went down better with European audiences than the likes of California and USAPCC too - rather than try to force down your throat its own self-identity and promising things it could never deliver, the Tour of Utah just got on with putting forward the best bike race it could on the roads of Utah, and used the terrain - and scenery - that its home state had to offer - and it was all the better for that.

However, of course, it will never happen. They'd have to get special dispensation to run a race that long within UCI rules and if it was set up specifically as a rival to the UCI's WorldTour it would be opposed at every turn. If it went up against the Tour it would be a forgotten, irrelevant late-at-night sideshow for most of the biggest cycling fanbases, and if it didn't get UCI sanctioning then top riders would either not be able to enter or would have to get dispensation like Lance, Jason McCartney and Levi did to ride as Mellow Johnny's Cycle Shop Team - so not as their trade team, who would therefore have little interest in loaning out riders to enter races they couldn't get UCI points in if promotion/relegation stayed in force - in the Tour of the Gila in 2010.
 
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The US is too large and too uncultured, like back in the USSR (you don't know how lucky you are!), pallidula, rigida, nudula, and even worse without a grass-roots cycling tradition. The days of Belle Epoche cockamamie schemes, like hiking the Tourmalet in the snow to see if doable on 12 kilogram bikes without gears, are long gone. But that is how you build a mythology, which can't be duplicated, let alone surpassed, with a contempoary Tour du Trump. Italy, France and Spain are perfect geographically, culturally and historically for GTs, so let them have them (as let the US have its Super Bowl). And you can't buy that, no matter how much money you throw into the project. In 1989 Donald Trump thought he could sponsor a bike race that would become "bigger than the Tour" - the man's extravagant arrogance was already evident. It's like the joke about the Roman taxi driver and the tourist from Texas. Passing by St. Peter's Basilica the Texan exclaimed, "Oh, what's this and how long did it take to build?", to which the Roman said, 120 years. "Well, in Texas we could build that in 20 years!" Then passing before the Pantheon the Texan cried out anew, "My goodness, what is this and how long did it take to build?" The Roman said 8 years. Again the Texan: "In Texas we could build it in just two!" Finally, comming upon the Colosseum, overwhelmed with admiration, the Texan humbly said: "And this? How long did it take to build?" The Roman turned his head around as if perplexed, "Oh, this! Well, last week it wasn't there."

Don't misunderstand me, however, a premier US stage race would be a good thing, but another GT is out of the question (how would that even work with the existing calendar?). You couldn't hold it in July. And I wouldn't want to see another race competing with the Giro, which has already suffered since they moved the Vuelta to late August-early September.
 
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Yea, the two systems are, as you nicely expressed, fundamentally incompatible. Moreover, cycling has always been based on a rotating door system of title sponsors, in which x corporation buys in for x number of years, usually because said corporation is either directly invested in the cycling industry or has an owner mad about the sport - pick your examples. Then it remains contractually on board for only as long as annual profits, publicity and advertisement returns justify the budget expense. In the pre-globalization era this could be substantial for national, even regional, companies that considered investing in pro cycling as part of the strategic planning of their businesses. When cycling was still basically a continental European affair, the system was thus buoyed by grass roots, often family owned, brands (from automobile to salami manufacturers, etc.), which, as a matter of national pride (and local market interests), kept funding pro cycling teams for years, even decades. By contrast, in the age of globalization corporations often remain only nominally French or Italian, etc., but are owned by foreign investors whose only interest is driving up profits in expanded markets. In other words, the almost quaint home-grown and grass roots aspects that gauranteed a certain stability and corporate replenishment in cycling, has given way to an increasingly unstable environment in which title sponsors pulling out often leads to a crisis when a dearth of new financial backers, offering a paucity of funds, inevitably results in teams folding. In this sense the sport has remained within the mentality of local tradition, even as it has gone global, but without adapting its business model to new market demands. And the title sponsors must assume all the burden of expenses, without benefiting from the profits generated by headline events as franchise sport teams do. Oleg Tinkov was vexed over this (not that I'm his fan).

But how would cycling adapt to a francising model? It does already have leagues so to speak between World Tour and Pro-Conti levels, which, however, aren't firmly ensconced within metropolitan identities that gaurantee huge profits from TV broadcasting rights enhanced by stadium ticket sales and the whole business of amphitheater shows. By contrast, there are no stadiums in cycling - the towns and roads being its great caveae and arenas - thus no ticket sales, no amphitheater spectacles (except for track racing obviously), for which it's unlikely you could have a Manchester United or a Real Madrid or Milan cycling team. And the profits from broadcasting rights don't go to the teams and their title sponsors, but to the race owning Ltds, their shareholders and the governing body of cycling that organize and offer the calendar of events to qualifying teams. In this sense, unlike the francise system, cycling teams don't own a piece of the action of their sport, whose title sponsors therefore only stand to see a return on their investments by participating in premier events. So in this globalized world, also given the meritocratic points system instituted to promote or demote teams based on results, without the stadiums and all the rest it has become increasingly arduous for the movement to attract big, long-term investors; especially now since the costs of running a World Tour outfit have skyrocketed from when the sport and its race calendar were more or less confined to a handfull of Continental nations. In the absence of a marquis rider, furthermore, such as an Evenepoel in Belgium, to draw in big funding from national companies, which is particularly dire for Italian cycling, even having a World Tour team becomes impossible with the running costs involved.

So perhaps it's more urgent to make reforms to the cycling business model, ensuring that teams and their sponsors share in the overall profits that races like the Tour generate through TV rights and commercial publicity, than changing the points system because of a disgruntled owner who invested poorly on washed-up has beens. That might work for Barnum and Bailey circus freak-show side act, but not the circuit of World Tour racing. Although the one doesn't necessarily exclude the other, perhaps. Because if the teams by right share in the profits generated by races, then things could evolve into a kind of francise system (along the lines of World Cup football?) that would make the points one obsolete and investing in teams more attractive to the big corporations.

Yes thank you for pointing out the French ASO is a big bully, they depend upon all the smaller races to build up their cash cow. If only they would share revenues.

Back to the relegation system that also favors the French (and Belgium teams).
 
Yes thank you for pointing out the French ASO is a big bully, they depend upon all the smaller races to build up their cash cow. If only they would share revenues.

Back to the relegation system that also favors the French (and Belgium teams).
Well, I presume none of the races are sharing their revenues right? Probably the only way to break ASO, and hence the sport, is for the teams to boycot the Tour until their demand is met. I seem to recall that several years ago the issue of sharing revenues was brought up. Naturally ASO shot it down and it went no further. Evidently the teams and riders are too timid to insist, but if cycling is to change in this regard there probably will be no other way. It's risky, which is why the teams have thus far kept their tails between their legs, since without the Tour there are no big money sponsors. Yet sponsors would gain so much if ASO were to be broken and forced to share the profits. What this might signify for the organization and running of the race (that is with less cash at its disposal), however, I don't know. But it doesn't seem to matter with francise sports'.
 
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An All-American GT would only mean flying an enourmous amount of people and equipment around. Super not-environment-friendly, which might not mean a lot in the big picture, but I want cycling to stand for a cleaner way of mobility, not the other way around.

Besides, I don't feel like any of the teams that is in trouble now isn't in it because of own failures.
Everyone doubted Israel's strategy to go with old riders, especially Froome. It was a gamble that didn't pay off, well, not the relegation system's fault.

One can blame the calendar, but I think the flaws in rider selection and team management in some teams are clear to see. A real problem is the gap between budgets, but to change the calendar is not the solution to this problem in my eyes.
 
An All-American GT would only mean flying an enourmous amount of people and equipment around. Super not-environment-friendly, which might not mean a lot in the big picture, but I want cycling to stand for a cleaner way of mobility, not the other way around.

Besides, I don't feel like any of the teams that is in trouble now isn't in it because of own failures.
Everyone doubted Israel's strategy to go with old riders, especially Froome. It was a gamble that didn't pay off, well, not the relegation system's fault.

One can blame the calendar, but I think the flaws in rider selection and team management in some teams are clear to see. A real problem is the gap between budgets, but to change the calendar is not the solution to this problem in my eyes.
The budget gap would probably diminish if race revenues were shared with the teams.
 
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the Tour of California made a multi-million dollar deficit, and so would every other big stage race in the US. Teams won't be happy if this is shared with them. There are hardly any profitable races.
Well, of course, which goes back to my point about European cycling just not being a money marker on US soil, because so unpopular to the vast majority. Pro pool, bowling and ping-pong are probably more popular. Sure there is a hardcore cycling community in the US, made up mostly of alternative, counter-culture types, but it is negligible in the greater scheme of things. By in large Americans only care about what goes on in America, and this truism also applies to sport. At any rate, I was talking generally about sharing revenues in big time European cycling events that actually make profits.
 
Well, of course, which goes back to my point about European cycling just not being a money marker on US soil, because so unpopular to the vast majority. Pro pool, bowling and ping-pong are probably more popular. Sure there is a hardcore cycling community in the US, made up mostly of alternative, counter-culture types, but it is negligible in the greater scheme of things. By in large Americans only care about what goes on in America, and this truism also applies to sport. At any rate, I was talking generally about sharing revenues in big time European cycling events that actually make profits.
Biggest problem for US organisers to make a profit is the insurance cost. Makes it almost impossible to make a profit
 
I don't hate the relegation system -- yet -- but I can see the downsides, namely distorting the natural order of racing in the second half of the year. I'm not sure how you would judge "success," however. We've always had very weak teams at the WT level, and so replacing an ISN with a Sidermec or whatever isn't really an upgrade.

I do think (a point made upthread) that relegation is a disincentive for certain sponsors, and since the sport depends on teams bootstrapping thenselves with title/secondary sponsors, it seems like a bit of a self-inflicted wound. Revenue-sharing at a minimum level, say 10 million euros a year per team, would go a long way to ensuring stability. If it turns out that there are bunch of deep-pocketed title sponsors who want in, that can be addressed later, either by upgrading Pro Conti races or expanding the number of teams and reducing the number of riders.
 
Reactions: Extinction
Should've offered Dan Martin a decent incentive to stay a bit longer and had him clean up points. Wanted to go for fashionable signings instead didn't they, looking pretty foolish now.
Fuglsang and Nizzolo are 1 and 2 in the points scored this year, Clarke is 4th, Houle is 5th. That's 4 from the 5 signings for 2022.

Dan Martin scored 513 points last year, extra 350 points (Boivin at 10th best this year is at 176 points) probably would not have saved them anyway.

Edit: 3 of the 5 signings have also scored more points this year than Martin did last year.
 
Fuglsang and Nizzolo are 1 and 2 in the points scored this year, Clarke is 4th, Houle is 5th. That's 4 from the 5 signings for 2022.

Dan Martin scored 513 points last year, extra 350 points (Boivin at 10th best this year is at 176 points) probably would not have saved them anyway.

Edit: 3 of the 5 signings have also scored more points this year than Martin did last year.
Why is Dylan Teuns not counted in the top ten riders or have PCS made a mistake?
 
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