World Tour Wildcards 2023

I was thinking it could be good to have a thread for all wild cards for the 2023 World Tour events.

Automatic Wild Card to all WT events:
Lotto-Dstny
Team TotalEnergies

Automatic Wild Card to all WT one day events:
Israel Premier Tech

News:
Today it came out that UCI are looking at establishing a tighter sporting criteria to limit which teams can be invited to grand tours . Currently it is being discussed that only the first 50 teams on the world ranking (UCI World Ranking) in 2022 can participate in the GTs that will be held in 2023 , to later limit this right to the top 40 in 2024 and the top 30 in 2025.
Read full article in Spanish here: https://www.relevo.com/ciclismo/burgos-euskaltel-quedar-vuelta-espana-20221123020325-nt.html

If only the top 50 teams of the UCI World Ranking can get a GT wild card next year it means Euskaltel-Euskadi and BH-Burgos are out of the question, which would open up the Vuelta-possibilities. It could also become an issue for Doug Ryders new Q36,5 team and every other new teams in the future.
In a way it sounds fair that new teams has to prove their worthiness, but I'm not sure if it would be great to automatically make it impossible for a new team to get a GT Wild Card in the first season.


My guess of the GT Wild Cards for 2023 (given only 22 teams are allowed)

Giro

  1. Lotto - automatic
  2. Total - automatic (rumors says they will not take advantage of this)
  3. Eolo Kometa - The best italian team, 100% in.
  4. Israel - Sylvan Adams seems to have quite good connections with RCS. Could also send an interesting team with Nizzolo and good stage hunters.
  5. Q36,5 - The new DougRyder team has a strong italian connection and a better squad then Bardiani. (the top 50 in UCI ranking could be an issue for a new team)
  6. Bardiani - The second best Italian team, but their squad for next year doesn't look very exciting imo.
  7. Uno-X - Falls behind the italian / half-italian team. Seems to not have great connections with RCS.
Tour
  1. Lotto - automatic
  2. Total - automatic
  3. Israel - won two stages this year, still have some big names. Should be in unless Adams have pissed off ASO too much.
  4. B&B - possibly collapsing, time is running out for Pineau...
  5. Uno-X - Should be next in line after B&B.
  6. Euskaltel-Euskadi - only an option because the Tour starts in Basque country. (possibly not allowed if the new sporting criteria comes in)
  7. Q36,5 / Tudor - both teams could field teams that are okay by TdF wildcard status, but should be clearly behind Uno-X.
Vuelta
  1. Lotto - automatic
  2. Total - automatic
  3. Kern-Pharma
  4. Caja Rural
  5. Euskaltel-Euskadi (possibly not allowed if the new sporting criteria comes in)
  6. BH-Burgos (possibly not allowed if the new sporting criteria comes in)
  7. Israel / Uno-X / Q36,5 - no idea who woud be in contention if the two lowest ranked spanish teams can't participate.
 
Today it came out that UCI are looking at establishing a tighter sporting criteria to limit which teams can be invited to grand tours . Currently it is being discussed that only the first 50 teams on the world ranking (UCI World Ranking) in 2022 can participate in the GTs that will be held in 2023 , to later limit this right to the top 40 in 2024 and the top 30 in 2025.
Read full article in Spanish here: https://www.relevo.com/ciclismo/burgos-euskaltel-quedar-vuelta-espana-20221123020325-nt.html
That's the best idea the UCI have had in ages. Guess the shambolic performances of the wildcard teams at the Vuelta have finally set something in motion.
 
My take:

Giro
  1. Lotto - automatic
  2. Eolo Kometa -Virtually guaranteed
  3. Bardiani - Virtually guaranteed
  4. Q.36-5 (Doug Ryder Team) - Strong italian contingent, they will probably make a strong push for Giro given it's their most realistic chance for a GT
  5. Team Corratec (Promoted from Conti). Weak team apart from Valerio Conti. I think they're below Q.36-5 on the pecking order
Very unlikely but possible options: Israel, Tudor.
No chance: Uno-X, Total (skipping Giro)

Tour
  1. Lotto - automatic
  2. Total - automatic
  3. B&B (if the team does not fold)
  4. Israel - Big names (Teuns, Woods, Froome, Nizzolo, Cavendish?). If B&B Folds they take Cavendish and would have their spot guaranteed.
  5. Uno-X - ASO like the team and have a strong case for making their debut by steadily progressing year by year.
Very unlikey but possible options: Tudor, Euskaltel
No chance: Q.36-5

Vuelta
  1. Lotto - automatic
  2. Total - automatic
  3. Caja Rural - They were absent on 2022 so I guess they will ride this year
  4. Kern-Pharma - I would say they are the best spanish PCT team.
  5. Burgos-BH - They are usually favoured by the organization but I think this year it's time to rotate.
  6. Euskaltel-Euskadi - Possibly the weakest Spanish team
Very unlikely but possible options: Uno-X (only if the team is not invited to TdF), Israel, Tudor
No chance: Q.36-5, Uno-X (if they ride TdF)
 
That's a idiotic rule, to be honest.

What about if Burgos found some millions to invest for this year and hired some rider like Carlos Rodríguez, Juan Ayuso, etc., would they still be left behind because of their 2022 ranking? The team should be happy to tell their sponsors to invest many millions to race Vuelta a Asturias or Vuelta a Burgos so they could secure a vacancy to go to the Vuelta the year after. If I was a sponsor I would tell them to look somewhere else and put my investment in the teams that already have a guaranteed presence this year, even as a co-sponsor.

Wildcards are there to give discretionary power to organisers in who they want to have in their race. If Unipublic doesn't mind to have weak teams filling up their spots, I don't think anybody else has any right to say them which teams they should select. After all we have a first forcing criterion which mandates them to invite the 18 WT teams and on top of that we recently put in place another sporting criterion which mandates them to invite the top 2 non WT teams.
 
That's a idiotic rule, to be honest.

What about if Burgos found some millions to invest for this year and hired some rider like Carlos Rodríguez, Juan Ayuso, etc., would they still be left behind because of their 2022 ranking? The team should be happy to tell their sponsors to invest many millions to race Vuelta a Asturias or Vuelta a Burgos so they could secure a vacancy to go to the Vuelta the year after. If I was a sponsor I would tell them to look somewhere else and put my investment in the teams that already have a guaranteed presence this year, even as a co-sponsor.

Wildcards are there to give discretionary power to organisers in who they want to have in their race. If Unipublic doesn't mind to have weak teams filling up their spots, I don't think anybody else has any right to say them which teams they should select. After all we have a first forcing criterion which mandates them to invite the 18 WT teams and on top of that we recently put in place another sporting criterion which mandates them to invite the top 2 non WT teams.
There were 18 WT teams and 17 ProTeams at the start of 2022, two of which were Gazprom and Novo Nordisk. There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be able to make the top-50 as a ProTeam, you could have had 17 continental (or club) teams and every remaining ProTeam bar Novo Nordisk beat you and still make it. Heck, three U23 teams (one of which is a club team!) finished in the top-50 this year - in addition, every ProTeam bar Burgos, Euskaltel and Novo Nordisk did.

Moreover, Caja Rural are comfortably in the top-50 (31st in both 2021 and 2022) and didn’t get an invite this year because Unipublic are hellbent on rotating the Spanish teams, so a greater degree of meritocracy can also benefit some of the home teams. There is simply no reason why a team like Euskaltel should be allowed to be invited to the Vuelta in 2023 after finishing 64th in the rankings in 2022, winning zero professional races, and collecting zero stage top-10s at the Vuelta. There is no reason to suggest a stronger domestic team in Caja, let alone a strong team from the ‘wrong’ country like Uno-X, would not do better than a team like Euskaltel that is effectively at semipro standard and therefore out of place in a GT. And Burgos are not much better in any department. Unipublic may not mind, but more deserving teams do, and then we haven’t talked about viewer experience yet.

And yes, there are hypothetical situations like the one you sketch out where the proposed new rule would cause issues, but how many times has something like that happened in, say, the past decade? For example, Arkéa were well inside the top-30 when they signed Quintana and Bouhanni, and also when they signed Barguil before that. Alpecin were within the top-50 as a continental team the two years before they went professional and would have made their GT debut much sooner than 2021 in a meritocratic system. Uno-X are in 22nd at the time of signing Kristoff. The bottom line is, non-WT teams that sign big names are generally already decently high in the rankings, and so it is extremely unlikely that a ProTeam would sign a Carlos Rodriguez-tier rider whilst being outside of the top-50, or even top-30, regardless of their GT eligibility.
 
There were 18 WT teams and 17 ProTeams at the start of 2022, two of which were Gazprom and Novo Nordisk. There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be able to make the top-50 as a ProTeam, you could have had 17 continental (or club) teams and every remaining ProTeam bar Novo Nordisk beat you and still make it. Heck, three U23 teams (one of which is a club team!) finished in the top-50 this year - in addition, every ProTeam bar Burgos, Euskaltel and Novo Nordisk did.

Moreover, Caja Rural are comfortably in the top-50 (31st in both 2021 and 2022) and didn’t get an invite this year because Unipublic are hellbent on rotating the Spanish teams, so a greater degree of meritocracy can also benefit some of the home teams. There is simply no reason why a team like Euskaltel should be allowed to be invited to the Vuelta in 2023 after finishing 64th in the rankings in 2022, winning zero professional races, and collecting zero stage top-10s at the Vuelta. There is no reason to suggest a stronger domestic team in Caja, let alone a strong team from the ‘wrong’ country like Uno-X, would not do better than a team like Euskaltel that is effectively at semipro standard and therefore out of place in a GT. And Burgos are not much better in any department.

And yes, there are hypothetical situations like the one you sketch out where the proposed new rule would cause issues, but how many times has something like that happened in, say, the past decade? For example, Arkéa were well inside the top-30 when they signed Quintana and Bouhanni, and also when they signed Barguil before that. Alpecin were within the top-50 as a continental team the two years before they went professional and would have made their GT debut much sooner than 2021 in a meritocratic system. Uno-X are in 22nd at the time of signing Kristoff. The bottom line is, non-WT teams that sign big names are generally already decently high in the rankings, and so it is extremely unlikely that a ProTeam would sign a Carlos Rodriguez-tier rider whilst being outside of the top-50, or even top-30, regardless of their GT eligibility.
Regarding the last paragraph, and I'm going to talk about CQRanking which is closer for the UCI ranking which I don't have for those years, I remember in the past the cases of BMC in 2010 (who were 45th in the ranking in 2009 before signing Evans) and Cervélo in 2009 which created the team from the ground with the then current Tour de France winner, plus Thor Hushovd, two top-50 riders in the world in 2008, and which under that criterion, wouldn't be able to be invited to any GT.

And as the OP said it it, this year is the top-50 what can be selected, but in the future could well be only the top-30.

We can't also forget the fact that marketing is a strong part of cycling and that for Spanish and Italian teams, especially, the 2nd tier teams are only viable to have if they are able to go to their home grand tour. Of course it's not good to have 4 duds fighting only for the breakaway, but that was why not long ago the organisers stopped to be able to choose to invite 4 teams, to be required to invite the top two pro conti teams and have only 2 invites to left to have whoever they want in their race.

"there are hypothetical situations like the one you sketch out where the proposed new rule would cause issues, but how many times has something like that happened in, say, the past decade"

I don't think the number of cases is an important fact here. The simple theoretical hypothesis that it could happen should at least make the rule be adjusted to take care of it.

And as in the relegation system, it also comes back to my belief that assigning points only to team structures is not the optimal way to solve the ranking issues. Points should stay within the team but should also go with the rider when they change teams. And, in the specific case of this rule, it should also be based in a rolling system and not in the entire past season.
 
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Regarding the last paragraph, and I'm going to talk about CQRanking which is closer for the UCI ranking which I don't have for those years, I remember in the past the cases of BMC in 2010 (who were 45th in the ranking in 2009 before signing Evans) and Cervélo in 2009 which created the team from the ground with the then current Tour de France winner, plus Thor Hushovd, two top-50 riders in the world in 2008, and which under that criterion, wouldn't be able to be invited to any GT.
That was in an incomparable era when the WT didn't exist yet and teams of the highest level didn't have automatic invites to any GT, though. That being said, I would not be opposed to an exception being made for teams who sign a rider in, say, the top-50 of the UCI rankings and/or in the top-5 of the GC of the previous edition of said GT, for the unlikely event that another BMC or Cervélo comes along over a decade later.

And as the OP said it it, this year is the top-50 what can be selected, but in the future could well be only the top-30.
Correct, but teams would have time to adjust their planning to that. Top-30 is maybe a little on the high side but it would still have meant you only needed to beat Novo Nordisk and three other ProTeams this year provided you stay ahead of the CTs, not a particularly tall order.

We can't also forget the fact that marketing is a strong part of cycling and that for Spanish and Italian teams, especially, the 2nd tier teams are only viable to have if they are able to go to their home grand tour. Of course it's not good to have 4 duds fighting only for the breakaway, but that was why not long ago the organisers stopped to be able to choose to invite 4 teams, to be required to invite the top two pro conti teams and have only 2 invites to left to have whoever they want in their race.
Again, teams would have time to adjust their planning to this, and I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for/expect some modicum of performance in exchange for the exposure given by the wildcard.

It's also just as true for the French teams that going to their home GT is a key part of why they exist, only the French teams actually perform to a decent level so their risk of missing out is much smaller thanks to having results to fall back on.
 
A statistic that underlines the problem: The Tour, Giro and Vuelta have handed out 24 wildcards between them in the past 3 years (not including automatic invites). In that time, it has happened 3 times that a wildcard team failed to register a single stage top 10 in the GT they were invited to: Burgos in the 2020 Vuelta, Burgos again in the 2021 Vuelta, and Euskaltel in the 2022 Vuelta.
 
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The World Tour might not have existed 2008-10, but the ProTour did, and you also had the problem of the UCI/ASO feud over the fact that they agreed the licences issue based on the teams that were in the ProTour at the time, then UCI didn't award the licences to a couple of teams that were in the original agreement so were able to do the GTs (Bbox, for example), while simultaneously awarding them to new start-up teams which came in after the ProTour agreement with the race organisers, so weren't guaranteed invites (Katyusha and Radioshack each missing a Vuelta for example), plus you had some teams handing back invites for races that they had no interest in (Euskaltel at the 2009 Giro for example).

The World Tour removed the subjectivity issue that meant teams who slaved away and got results at the second level (and did well when given major invites) like Vacansoleil were unable to progress against new start-up big money squads like Leopard Trek and Radioshack, plus given the ProTour contract didn't guarantee the GTs meant teams like Cervélo and BMC would just take a ProConti licence, spend the money they saved on the licence on higher profile riders, and get invited to any race they like without having to pay the ProTour licence costs. UCI closed that loophole, but it has created a new issue, which is that in order to make sure that the WorldTour is more attractive than the ProConti level, they have almost killed off the strong ProConti team, which has meant the wildcard teams are increasingly break fodder irrelevances. Back in the late 2000s/early 2010s, there were almost no wasted invites at any GT. Italy had people like Garzelli, Scarponi, Pozzovivo, Sella, Paolini, Petacchi, di Luca and Visconti all on ProConti teams, Spain had Mosquera and the Relax-GAM guys, France had 2011 Europcar with Voeckler and Rolland, Agritubel with Moreau and the Feillus, plus there was Cervélo with Sastre, Hushovd, Haussler and others. Even Andalucía-Caja Sur, probably the nearest thing the era had to today's nondescript ham-and-eggers, had Xavi Tondó one year (although he crashed out early). Elsewise you had teams that have grown into modern WT teams from that level but started out as wildcards, like Slipstream Sports, NetApp and Skil-Shimano.

Where are those teams now? That's why UCI is locking off yet more of the flexibility organisers have to select their teams and give their race a distinctive flavour. If Burgos, or Euskaltel, were the only also-ran team that functions more or less only to provide break fodder, like Andalucía-Caja Sur back in the early 2010s, then it wouldn't be so conspicuous. However, the wildcards are the only means by which the organisers can provide sops to local sponsors, and as mentioned they are the lifeblood of the second tier teams in those countries. The Giro and Vuelta also have a greater need to energise local support than the Tour, because they cannot compete with the Tour for global stature, so they have a greater need to depend on local talent and interest. Unfortunately at the moment, those countries' second tier teams are, by and large, completely uncompetitive and there is not the steady stream of decent stagehunting talent and second-tier quality riders moving to those teams that there was 10-15 years ago because there is not the money in the ProConti level anymore; riders are better served becoming veteran domestiques at a top team than being a leader at a smaller team, and increasingly the only riders at the ProConti level are prospects who will move on to the higher levels upon showing sufficient promise, and mediocre pros and journeymen without sufficient weapons to fight for wins and who simply ran out of space for contracts at the top, and the financial crisis depleted much of the national pro racing scenes from which those second tier teams derived a lot of income.

I personally feel that it is already too restrictive that the organisers only get 4 wildcards and would like to see the WT level reduced down in numbers, but the UCI is definitely intent on Premier League-ification. Adding two compulsory wildcards is kind of, you know, not a wildcard at all, because there is no choice in the matter for the organisers, and is liable to become a self-fulfilling prophecy given those two teams have the best chance at scoring the results needed to perpetuate that position. If we're going with the system as it stands with 18 WT teams, I feel that forcing teams to pick wildcards from the top 50 is a positive step - if they allow all four wildcards to be at organisers' discretion. I think this is a reasonable compromise, giving the organisers a bit of flexibility but preventing them from picking total cannon fodder because, as Devils Elbow says, a ProTeam should have little trouble reaching that amount and if they do then they probably shouldn't be a ProTeam. At the same time, in that case the UCI needs to really sort out the stupidity of the points system which massively overvalues one-day races at the lower level and disproportionately therefore favours teams from France and Belgium whose calendars are chocked full of these flat to rolling one-dayers that are why Arnaud de Lie is more important on the UCI ranking than Richard Carapaz in 2022.

Of course, this does provide the problem of new teams, because one of the reasons for the issue that led to the creation of the WT in the first place was handing out ProTour contracts to new start-up teams based on the riders for the following season rather than the preceding, which resulted in the existing teams making rather ridiculous desperate points signings of nobodies from the Asia Tour in order to protect themselves in 2012-13. I am very much of the opinion that it is best to force a new team to be a wildcard team for year one at best, in order to prove there is stome stability to the investment, as the last thing we need is more dollar-store Tinkoffs like Rick Delaney who bail on the team and hang the riders out to dry as soon as they come up against any obstacles. So I would argue that organisers should be allowed to pick any four teams from non-UCI WT licenced teams so long as they are scored in the top 50 (40 would suffice, but 30 I think is too restrictive to allow all races to have the individual characteristics and flavour which they need) OR are a new team whose riders' points for the previous season would have placed them in that top 40 or 50.

Although historically I have argued for a much more straightforward system of, the previous year's top 15 ranked teams are the WT and have to be invited to all WT races (but don't have to take up the invite), the teams ranked 16 to 40 are the wildcard rankings and can be invited to any WT race so long as they are biopassport compliant (organisers have full flexibility to pick the remaining selection) and any team ranked 41 or below cannot be invited to WT races (or at least GTs and Monuments - perhaps it should be top 50 for WT races but top 40 for GTs/Monuments to try to ensure a bit higher quality field there but allow a lesser team to make a splash at other races to earn the chance to step up). If a team is not biopassport compliant but ranks top 40, the status is passed down to the next eligible team. If a team at the cusp of the WT/Wildcard level then dedicates its season to crushing the Continental Tour like Vacansoleil in 2010 and finds its way to the top level, then that's fine.

And if that means Astana or DSM have to do more Continental Tour events or earn wildcards cos they sucked in 2022, or Sakarya-BB or Team Ukyo become eligible for WT invites because of crushing a limited scene, then so be it. The downside is that of course it doesn't get rid of the problem whereby it will favour countries that have a lot of small races and one-day races - and we might end up with a lot of pop-up style races late in the season to protect teams artificially, like those women's one-dayers that appear on the calendar late organised by national federations to help their countries qualify riders for the Olympics - or we'll suddenly see the Burgos and Euskaltel types going and racing things like those Turkish one-dayers with very small, mediocre fields to boost their score and try to retain eligibility.

Afraid there is never going to be a way that we can maintain some level of protection for the teams that depend on their national races for survival without abandoning meritocracy and rewarding mediocrity with the way the ProTeams have been neutered after the Cervélo-BMC loophole was closed; and there is no way to force selection of the strongest ProTeams without sacrificing some of the identity of the biggest races and further increasing the gap between the haves and have-nots and threatening the existence of a lot of the teams that depend on those races and also help prop up their domestic calendars with their participation.
 
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The system shouldn't be implemented for 2023 WildCards. At least you have to give the teams a year to choose their strategy to maximize points and achieve their goals.

Moreover, and despite the fact I dislike awful teams like Burgos, Euskaltel or Vini Zabú in their weaker incarnations being invited to GTs, it should be also taken into consideration that rankings somehow distort the reality of teams and do not particularly show the fit of a team in certain races.

For instance, Sport Vlaanderen, which might be one of the Top5 Pro Conti Teams, makes 0 sense in a GT, especially Giro and Vuelta. A similar case could be made for Bingoal which is also one of the best PCT.
 
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The system shouldn't be implemented for 2023 WildCards. At least you have to give the teams a year to choose their strategy to maximize points and achieve their goals.
If your team does not belong to the best 50 teams in the world, you don't belong in the biggest races in the world. Only in the next years the rule becomes more strict.
 
The system is flawed. Again, I'm not precisely a fan of Burgos or Euskatel, and I agree they probably don't belong in GTs but:

  1. You cannot implement a new system with retrospective scoring without having announced it before the start of the season - Those teams would have changed their approach and strategy if they needed to race for points. For example, would it be fair to have 5 teams demoted in football for a new season after the previous one has ended, when the rules at the start of the season specified only three teams would be demoted?
  2. We all agree the past system was flawed towards one day racing and even farming points in neighbourhood races rather than good ones. You can't seriously think Tashkent City is better than Euskaltel or Panamá es Cultura y Valores is better than Burgos.
 
If Burgos and/Euskaltel performed even half decent, then they would be ranked in the top-50. I don't know what they were doing if they were thinking to freewheel through the season when they could easily have scored some top-10s. The rule for 2023 is not strict at all and very reasonable.
You could also argue those teams prevent other teams to participate in the Vuelta, only because those teams are Spanish. That's also an unfairness that has lasted for decades.
 
Why do we need to have all of the 18 WT teams guaranteed invitation for a GT? If a team has no interest in a certain race (i.e Movistar in the cobbled classics few years ago or some french teams in the Giro like 10 years ago), why should they go there?

I think that letting each team apply for a GT/monument/WT race will make the system better. That way you'd leave away the "cannon-foder" WT teams that doesn't give a *** about the race and let organisers have enough local teams without sacrificing the invitation of a competitive team.
 
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Why do we need to have all of the 18 WT teams guaranteed invitation for a GT? If a team has no interest in a certain race (i.e Movistar in the cobbled classics few years ago or some french teams in the Giro like 10 years ago), why should they go there?
In those cases, the issue is/was not so much an guaranteed invitation, but that they're required to participate. An invitation is something that can be turned down, just like Arkea turned down riding the Giro this year.
 
Years ago I proposed a scheme whereby each WorldTeam, in order of their position in the end of year rankings, could name up to two or three WT races that they would not accept the invitation to, but that any race already being passed over by, say, three teams could not be rejected any more. All WT races get at least 15 WorldTeams, there would be more wild card slots for teams that actually want to be in the race, and being WT does not oblige participation that has no sporting relevance to the riders nor benefit to the sponsors.
 
In those cases, the issue is/was not so much an guaranteed invitation, but that they're required to participate. An invitation is something that can be turned down, just like Arkea turned down riding the Giro this year.

That's what I meant, thanks.
I imagine some of the WT teams don't care about the Giro and the Vuelta. So maybe a system based on application by the teams but requirement for the organisers to allow each of (say top 15 teams) that applies, so that we don't have a situation where RCS turns down Astana in favor of Bardiani.
 
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Why do we need to have all of the 18 WT teams guaranteed invitation for a GT? If a team has no interest in a certain race (i.e Movistar in the cobbled classics few years ago or some french teams in the Giro like 10 years ago), why should they go there?

I think that letting each team apply for a GT/monument/WT race will make the system better. That way you'd leave away the "cannon-foder" WT teams that doesn't give a *** about the race and let organisers have enough local teams without sacrificing the invitation of a competitive team.
I agree, the problem was that for the UCI this would hurt their attempts at globalisation, although Lappartient is far less committed to this than McQuaid or Cookson were. The original issue with this was that if they made it optional, races that are way out of the way or disconnected from much of the season would struggle to attract a field worthy of the top tier, because races like Beijing and Guangxi being in October late season and having no history or prestige would then struggle to assert themselves as top tier; the other races which would suffer would be the likes of Poland which would sacrifice a few teams, and the TDU which, at the time, was essentially a nothingburger race to any team that didn't have a top name sprinter. The race is a better balanced event now and would suffer less than it would at the time, but these issues were part of why the participation was made compulsory rather than optional but with guaranteed invite.

But at the same time, wildcard teams were also a lot deeper back then with better quality riders, so it wasn't an issue of wildcards meaning a couple of total cannon fodder teams per race either.
 
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That's what I meant, thanks.
I imagine some of the WT teams don't care about the Giro and the Vuelta. So maybe a system based on application by the teams but requirement for the organisers to allow each of (say top 15 teams) that applies, so that we don't have a situation where RCS turns down Astana in favor of Bardiani.
I don't believe any teams don't care about the Giro or Vuelta.
 

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