Grand Tours like the recently finished Giro d'Italia are the most valuable for teams in terms of exposure, sponsorship activation, and television time. So why are teams who did not even participate in the Giro d'Italia able to accumulate more UCI points during those three weeks in the 2023 WorldTour points race?
An analysis by Javi Angulo posted to Twitter revealed that Arkéa-Samsic's strategy of skipping the Giro d'Italia to focus on getting points in smaller races has paid off in spades. The team earned more points from May 6 to May 29th than 11 of the WorldTour teams racing the Giro - more than Jumbo-Visma, who won two stages.
In February, Arkea-Samsic team manager Emmanuel Hubert announced his team would bow out of their automatic invitation to the first Grand Tour of 2022, saying, "We deeply respect the Giro d'Italia, the RCS company, its history, but unfortunately this year we will not be competing in this Grand Tour, as our second place in the Pro-Series team ranking allows us to do so.
"2022 is a crucial season in the history of the Arkéa-Samsic team, and our sports department has established a strategy to achieve our objective of reaching the World-Tour."
The team plan to race the Tour de France and Vuelta a España this season but during May, they've devoted their efforts to races like Tro-Bro Léon, where they won the race with Hugo Hofstetter and placed four riders in the top-10 and two more in the minor points, tallying up a whopping 465 points in the ProSeries race.
In that one day, Arkéa-Samsic earned more points than EF Education-EasyPost, Israel-Premier Tech, Team DSM, UAE Team Emirates, Movistar, QuickStep-AlphaVinyl, AG2R Citroën, and Cofidis earned over the entirety of the Giro d'Italia.
Most importantly, the French ProTeam have placed themselves well outside of the 'relegation zone'.
It's a point that Trek-Segafredo manager Luca Guercilena pointed out in retweeting the data graph, he wrote, "Something ti [sic] discuss. This could drive teams to move the best roster to smaller races just to score points and avoid relegation=killing the team."
The teams who currently lie in the relegation zone are Lotto Soudal and Israel-Premier Tech. Neither team had much success in the Giro d'Italia - Caleb Ewan crashed on the opening stage, missing out on a victory. Thomas De Gendt's stage win made up for that in their 184-point Giro tally, but most of the team's points in May came from outside the Giro.
Philippe Gilbert's win in the 4 Jours de Dunkerque and the team's other results earned them 250 points there. The Belgian outfit also benefited from Tro-Bro Léon with four riders in the points for a total of 175. They gained 158 points at the Antwerp Port Epic - a 1.1 race, where Florian Vermeersch won and they put riders in 8th and 13th. Another 120 came from Circuit Wallonie and 128 from the Marcel Kint Classic.
Meanwhile, the best Israel-Premier Tech could do outside of the Giro d'Italia was 98 points at Tour de Hongrie.
To Cyclingnews, Lotto Soudal manager John Lelangue said the team's philosophy was to win and the points will come, and to not race just for points. However, they've been solidly hedging their bets in May. They're closing within 1000 points of teams like EF Education-EasyPost, Cofidis and BikeExchange-Jayco in the 2020-2022 rankings.
The WorldTour was originally created to ensure the best riders were all at the top races and in this first three-year experiment with this points system, signs are beginning to point to the very opposite. The Tour de France organisers ASO fought tooth and nail for a promotion/relegation system - if the small races that aren't even televised internationally attract better fields, they'll undoubtedly find a way to make the UCI shut it down.
Despite not taking part in the Giro, TotalEnergies and Arkéa-Samsic have accumulated over the last three weeks more points than most WorldTeams: pic.twitter.com/Ct03l1MUezMay 30, 2022
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Managing Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks. Laura's specialises in covering doping, anti-doping, UCI governance and performing data analysis.