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De Lie: UCI points are nice but winning is more important

Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Soudal) wins Heistse Pijl
Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Soudal) wins Heistse Pijl (Image credit: Sprint Cycling Agency)

Arnaud De Lie boosted his Lotto Soudal team's chances of gaining enough UCI points to avoid relegation from the WorldTour in 2023 when he won the Heistse Pijl on Saturday, but the 20-year-old downplayed that aspect of the fifth victory of the season.

"For me, every race is important and I always come to the start with the ambition to win," De Lie said. "It's not easy to win a race and that's why I'm very happy that I can put this race on my record."

All of his victories in this neo-pro season have come in UCI 1.1-ranked races, which typically do not attract the highest level of riders. But with the 2023 WorldTour teams being determined by the top 18-ranked squads over the 2020-2022 seasons, every point has become important. A victory in the 1.1 races earns 125 points, five more points than a Tour de France stage win.

Lotto Soudal were sitting 19th ahead of Israel-Premier Tech in this week's rankings but De Lie was more impressed with beating the likes of Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech) and Mark Cavendish (Quickstep-AlphaVinyl).

De Lie took his first win this season at the Trofeo Playa de Palma, beating Juan Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates), with Nizzolo and Michael Matthews (BikeExchange) in the mix, but beating sprinters like Nizzolo in May is a different level.

"To be on the podium with top sprinters like Nizzolo and Cavendish is just incredible," De Lie said.

Because of the WorldTour promotion/relegation rules coming into play for the first time in history next year, the hunt for points has led some teams to shift tactics - stacking teams for lower-level races or trying to finish with as many riders as possible in the top 10.

Lotto Soudal are sticking with the philosophy of fighting for victories over points. "At Lotto Soudal we only race for the win," De Lie said to Wielerflits, echoing statements that team manager John Lelangue made to Cyclingnews

"Some teams sprint with several riders, who then finish third, fourth and fifth. But such a result does not look pretty. It often makes no sense, because only the points of the ten best riders of the team count. And they weren't even there."

Under the UCI rules, only the points scored by the top 10 riders count toward the 2020-2022 team ranking.

"I took 125 points - but with a fourth and sixth place we would have earned as many, but winning is so much nicer," De Lie said. In Sunday's ProSeries Brussels Cycling Classic where the points are deeper and 200 points for the winner, the team might take a different tactic because three other top riders will be there - Victor Campenaerts, Philippe Gilbert and Tim Wellens. "I hope they can go for a good result," De Lie said.

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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A 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.