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Alpecin-Fenix all but seal Tour de France invite after topping latest Europe Tour rankings

OUDENAARDE BELGIUM OCTOBER 18 Arrival Mathieu Van Der Poel of The Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix Celebration Press Media during the 104th Tour of Flanders 2020 Ronde van Vlaanderen Men Elite a 2433km race from Antwerpen to Oudenaarde RVV20 FlandersClassic on October 18 2020 in Oudenaarde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Alpecin-Fenix star Mathieu van der Poel celebrates his Tour of Flanders win earlier this month (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Alpecin-Fenix and Arkéa-Samsic look set to receive invites to the full calendar of WorldTour races in 2021 after the two teams topped the latest edition of the UCI Europe Tour rankings, published by the UCI on Tuesday.

With the remainder of the Vuelta a España the only major race left to run in the 2020 season, the two teams' positions are all but guaranteed since neither team is racing in Spain and invited ProTeams Total Direct Énergie, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA and Burgos-BH trail some way behind in the ranking.

Alpecin-Fenix lie top of the table on 4,788 points, while Arkéa-Samsic are second at 3,697 points – a full 919 points ahead of third place and 2,295 points ahead of Total Direct Énergie, who lie fifth.

Under UCI regulations (2.1.007), organisers of Grand Tours and WorldTour stage races are obliged to invite the two top-ranked ProTeams if the number of WorldTeams stands at 18. In 2020, there are 19 WorldTour teams, meaning only Total Direct Énergie received full invites. 

At the moment, it looks likely that the 2021 season will see the WorldTour revert to 18 teams, with CCC Team replaced by Circus-Wanty Gobert and NTT Pro Cycling in grave danger of folding with no new sponsor deal imminent.

That would mean that Alpecin-Fenix and Arkéa-Samsic would receive invites to all WorldTour stage races, meaning that Mathieu van der Poel looks all set to make his Tour de France debut. Both teams will receive invites to all WorldTour one-day races, regardless of NTT's fate.

The Belgian team, which was a Continental squad just two seasons ago, can thank Van der Poel for his 2,040-point haul which included victories at the Tour of Flanders (600 points), the BinckBank Tour (400) and top 10s at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Gent-Wevelgem and Il Lombardia (360).

Tim Merlier (745 points), Gianni Vermeersch (499) and Alexander Krieger (386) also made a big contribution to the team's final haul. Alpecin-Fenix have already begun strengthening for 2021, with Jasper Philipsen from UAE Team Emirates and Xandro Meurisse from Circus-Wanty Gobert among four new signings.

French squad Arkéa-Samsic, meanwhile, will have already been sure of their invitations to the Tour de France and the major races organised by ASO, thanks to the presence of star riders Nairo Quintana (865 points), Warren Barguil (865) and Nacer Bouhanni (744). However, the possibility of a campaign at the Giro d'Italia or Vuelta a España would also be a possibility, should NTT stop at the end of the season.

Daniel joined Cyclingnews as staff writer in August 2019 after working as a freelance journalist for seven years, including time spent working for Cyclingnews and sister magazine, Procycling.