The fight to avoid relegation from the UCI WorldTour is in the final decisive month of racing and calculated risks have played a decisive factor in the latest standings.
While Lotto Soudal, Movistar and Cofidis blocked riders from travelling to Australia, other teams took the risk to send riders with their national federations to the UCI Road World Championships with hopes of gaining valuable points.
The World Championships relegation gamble paid off for BikeExchange-Jayco, thanks to Michael Matthews' third place finish in the elite men's road race and the resulting 400-point haul, plus 133 points scored by Matthews and Luke Durbridge in the Team Relay time trial and 83.33 points scored by Matteo Sobrero when Italy took the silver medal. Sprinter Dylan Groenewegen also snatched podiums in Paris-Chauny and Omloop van het Houtland to claim 155 points.
The Australian is now 1243 points above the relegation places with only the Italian Classics and a few other races left to race.
Team manager Brent Copeland was pleased after Worlds, praising the team's blended strategy.
"We discussed this with Matthew White and the performance group already a couple of months ago. We definitely agreed to support going to the World Championships," Copeland told Cyclingnews.
"And we also did the calculation on the points and thought we would have a good opportunity to pick up some good points, which did work out that way, so we were really pleased with that."
It helped that BikeExchange-Jayco's hopeful for Worlds had the entire Australian elite men's team backing him. The relationship works both ways, Copeland said.
"Having the world championships in Australia, having Australian riders on the team – that was easier for us to take that decision. But that's always been the philosophy of this team to support the federations, to support the World Championships – it's one of if not the most important event of the year and that's got to be respected."
BikeExchange-Jayco was sitting close to the 'relegation zone' this summer due to Simon Yates' abandon at the Giro d'Italia due to a knee injury and then at the Vuelta a España because of COVID-19. The team did not expect to be nervously fighting to secure their place in the 2023 WorldTour.
"We were pretty confident up until Simon got COVID-19 at the Vuelta. We had decided to concentrate on our goals and not to change too much. Whitey did decide to add in a couple of races just to be a little bit more secure, such as Dylan's podium finishes that he got over the last week.
"We were a bit concerned just because we were counting so much on those points for Simon's GC finish. For the second time in a row our captain had to withdraw when he was lying in a good position. So that was a concern for us. Michael's results definitely brings a big relief."
Rankings for week of 27 September, 2022
Most of the points this week came from the UCI Road World Championships, with the Mixed Relay and Road Race all offering major point hauls. Aside from that, a couple of one-day races took place in Europe, Paris-Chauny and Omloop van het Houtland.
At the top of the rankings, QuickStep-AlphaVinyl nudged Ineos Grenadiers down to third after Worlds, while Jumbo-Visma remain well ahead at the top adding another 800 points with Wout van Aert and Christophe Laporte's points from the road race.
EF Education-EasyPost also benefit from sending riders to Worlds, with Stefan Bissegger adding 100 points for Switzerland's win in the Mixed Relay in addition to his 125 last week for fifth in the time trial. Alberto Bettiol's eighth place in the road race brought in 150 points, helping the team climb up one place to 16th.
BikeExchange-Jayco caught a balloon ride out of the danger zone at Worlds, flying up the rankings from 18th to 15th on the back of Matthews' podium points.
The results of those two teams meant Arkéa-Samsic and Cofidis dropped two spots and are now virtually tied on points and 900 points above Lotto Soudal. The French teams must continues to add points to stay afloat and keep Lotto soudal and the relegation zone at bay.
Cofidis won Paris-Chauny with Simone Consonni, while Bryan Coquard added some points with seventh in Omloop van het Houtland. Arkéa-Samsic tallied points thanks to Hugo Hofstetter's fourth in Paris-Chauny. But the team are missing the Tour de France points of Nairo Quintana, who is facing a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing to overturn his disqualification for a Tramadol positive test.
Arkéa-Samsic's promotion hopes will lie in the upcoming one-day races in Italy, France and Belgium since the team will not race the Tour de Langkawi and Japan Cup, whereas Cofidis and Lotto Soudal will.
Lotto Soudal gained points thanks again to Arnaud De Lie, second in Houtland and fifth in Chauny, but it wasn't enough to close the gap to the next rung up out of the relegation zone. In fact, the gap to Cofidis widened to 943 points – a sizeable chunk of points that will be exceedingly difficult to close in the coming weeks.
Elsewhere, the situation for Israel-Premier Tech has darkened considerably, with Giacomo Nizzolo's 11th place in Paris-Chauny the biggest result of the week and Jakob Fuglsang so dispirited he is contemplating breaking his contract to retire, according to an interview with Danish newspaper BT.
"I'm not worried about whether the team is relegated. But of course, that's not what I want. I don't want to have to race as a Pro-Conti team in the last years of my career," Fuglsang told the publication.
The Dane's complaints about riders being sent to and fro in search of points echoed the frustrations of other teams and also confirms the fears of teams that riders' escape clause - a part of the contract that would allow them to break an agreement if the team is relegated - could gut their rosters.
Fuglsang might be only one of many riders looking to go elsewhere from Israel-Premier Tech and, possibly, Lotto Soudal if they remain 19th.
Fortunately Lotto Soudal's hopes of riding the Tour de France look good as they're well above other ProTeams in the 2022 Team Rankings that would guarantee an invitation to all three Grand Tours and all the WorldTour races in 2023.
Israel-Premier Tech's hopes for such a position have dimmed.
If relegated, Israel-Premier Tech would have to count on race organisers' wildcard invitations for the Grand Tours and, without the certainty of a Tour de France berth, the team's sponsors may get cold feet. Or, they could try to merge with another team as they did to join the WorldTour in 2020 after buying out Katusha-Alpecin.
2020-2022 Team Rankings
|Rank (Δ)||Team||Total points (Δ)|
|2 (↑+1)||QuickStep-AlphaVinyl||35413.37 (780)|
|3 (↓-1)||Ineos Grenadiers||34840.99 (130)|
|4||UAE Team Emirates||32863.66 (353)|
|6||Bahrain Victorious||23759 (135)|
|10||Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux||18387 (400)|
|11||AG2R Citroen Team||17288.33 (125.33)|
|12||Astana Qazaqstan Team||16869 (193)|
|13||Team DSM||16038.71 (155)|
|14||Movistar Team||15945 (145)|
|15 (↑+3)||BikeExchange-Jayco||15858.5 (750.67)|
|16 (↑+1)||EF Education-EasyPost||15657.65 (348.33)|
|17 (↓-2)||Arkea-Samsic||15548 (150)|
|18 (↓-2)||Cofidis||15548 (230)|
|19||Lotto Soudal||14605 (150)|
|20||Israel-Premier Tech||13629.66 (119)|
|22||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||6827.09 (165)|
2022 Team Rankings
The 2022 Team Rankings saw QuickStep-AlphaVinyl climb to fifth, getting ahead of Bora-Hansgrohe thanks to Remco Evenepoel's 600-point haul for the world title. EF Education-EasyPost climb two spots into 18th for the same reasons they rose in the three-year rankings. The move knocked Israel-Premier Tech down to 20th, further dimming their prospects.
Although Israel-Premier Tech are still wallowing in the relegation zone, if the team is relegated but chooses to keep going as a ProTeam, they still have prospects if the UCI apply their current rules. The team are a distant 974 points behind TotalEnergies, and 2,103 behind Lotto Soudal and will need to fight hard in the last five weeks of the year.
The best two ProTeams of 2022 earns an automatic invite to the Grand Tours and, should the UCI keep the WorldTour at 18 teams, Israel-Premier Tech would have to overtake TotalEnergies.
However, if the UCI keep the WorldTour at 20 teams as is rumoured, there would be no automatic invitation for TotalEnergies as the best ProTeam as the provision only goes up to a 19-team WorldTour. The French team's hopes would then have to lie in the proposal to increase the peloton to up to 200 riders, allowing organisers of the Grand Tours to have more choices for wildcards.
Check below for the current points rankings and the remaining race calendar.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|3||UAE Team Emirates||12005|
|14||AG2R Citroen Team||6509|
|18 (↑+2)||EF Education-EasyPost||4718|
|20 (↓-2)||Israel-Premier Tech||4567|
|21||Astana Qazaqstan Team||3788|
|22||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||2633|
|September 27-Oct 2||CRO Race||125, 85, 70, 60, 50, 40|
|September 29||Coppa Agostoni||125, 85, 70, 60, 50, 40|
|October 1||Giro dell'Emilia||200, 150, 125, 100, 85, 70|
|October 2||Famenne Ardenne Classic||125, 85, 70, 60, 50, 40|
|October 2||Tour de Vendée||125, 85, 70, 60, 50, 40|
|October 3||Coppa Bernocchi||200, 150, 125, 100, 85, 70|
|October 3||Sparkassen Münsterland Giro||200, 150, 125, 100, 85, 70|
|October 4||Tre Valli Varesine||200, 150, 125, 100, 85, 70|
|October 4||Binche-Chimay-Binche||125, 85, 70, 60, 50, 40|
|October 6||Gran Piemonte||200, 150, 125, 100, 85, 70|
|October 6||Paris-Bourges||125, 85, 70, 60, 50, 40|
|October 9||Paris-Tours||200, 150, 125, 100, 85, 70|
|October 9||Memorial Rik van Steenbergen||125, 85, 70, 60, 50, 40|
|October 10||Il Lombardia||500, 400, 325, 275, 225, 175, 150|
|October 11-18||Tour de Langkawi||200, 150, 125, 100, 85, 70|
|October 12||Giro del Veneto||125, 85, 70, 60, 50, 40|
|October 16||Japan Cup||200, 150, 125, 100, 85, 70|
|October 16||Chrono des Nations||125, 85, 70, 60, 50, 40|
|October 16||Veneto Classic||125, 85, 70, 60, 50, 40|
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