After an exciting month of July with both editions of the Tour de France, we return to analyse how it has influenced the men’s UCI rankings. In keeping with the trend of the season, Jumbo and UAE have swept the board, but more modest teams like Jayco Alula, Ag2r and Cofidis have taken a big points haul from the Tour de France, which will give them peace of mind in the long term. It was the first Tour de France under the new scoring system, which handed out almost 30,000 UCI points, almost three times as many as in the previous season.
In the fight to win the annual team ranking, UAE holds a lead of around 1,000 points over Jumbo-Visma. The Arab team is aiming to win the UCI ranking for the first time in its history and therefore brings very competitive teams to every race, such as the current Tour de Pologne, where Majka and Almeida are contesting the general classification. However, Jumbo-Visma can make up much of the deficit in La Vuelta if Vingegaard and Roglic finish on the podium along with consistent top stage results.
In the lower half of the ranking there have been many changes. Arkéa, Astana and Uno-X remain outside the top18, but it is now Team DSM that marks the end of the salvation zone. Despite there being more than two seasons until teams are promoted and relegated, the teams in trouble are already looking to improve their squads for next season. Even Arkéa is taking advantage of the August transfer window to bring in Arnaud Démare for the remainder of 2023. In addition, DSM will sign Jakobsen (and lose Welsford), Uno-X has announced Cort and Leknessund, whilst Astana is trying to convince Cavendish to continue and is looking for more sprinters, in a clear change of philosophy for a team that has historically focused on Grand Tour general classification results.
Another team that is falling down the ranking is Intermarché, after an impressive start to the season in January and February. The Belgian team suffered numerous injuries in the spring and at the Tour de France they have mourned the withdrawal of Louis Meintjes, 7th the previous year. In general, the teams that lost their leaders in the Tour de France, such as Astana (Cavendish), Movistar (Mas), EF (Carapaz) or DSM (Bardet), were among those that suffered the most to get results, as you can see in the following graph.
Half of the teams (11 out of 22) managed to win stages in this Tour de France, but there were four teams that could not even finish any stage in the top3: EF Education, Arkéa, DSM and Groupama-FDJ. It is the fourth Tour in a row for Groupama-FDJ and Movistar without a stage win, as they chose to focus their squad solely on the general classification. With an opposite strategy, Jayco managed to score over 2,000 UCI points by splitting the lead between Simon Yates and Dylan Groenewegen. Although stage wins eluded them (they finished second on three occasions), the Australian team scored 16 top10s in stages, surpassed only by Jumbo and UAE.
On the positive side for French fans, Ag2r and Cofidis also shined. Ag2r, which will lose Citroën as a co-sponsor, starred with the revelation of Felix Gall, renewed until 2025 shortly before the Tour de France. Interestingly, Ag2r made a mistake with the million-dollar bet on Van Avermaet, but two low-profile signings like O’Connor (in 2021) and Gall (in 2022) have ended up becoming the team’s leaders since the departure of Romain Bardet. In the case of Cofidis, the victories of Lafay and Ion Izagirre stood out, but also Guillaume Martin finished in the top10 of the GC and Coquard was one of the most regular sprinters, with 6 top10s and third in the green jersey classification.
Being the first Tour de France with the new scoring system, it is worth comparing the points obtained compared to the old system. While all the teams get many more UCI points, the consistent teams who are not quite good enough to win are the ones that take the most advantage of the new system. By scoring the best 15 riders in each stage instead of the top 5 as previously, honourable places in stages become much more important. For example, Uno-X scored 11 top10s in stages, which have been rewarded with 745 UCI points, whereas those results would have only scored 80 points under the previous system. It seems clear that the current scoring system better represents the strength of the teams.
As for the riders, versatile sprinters like Pedersen (from 200 to 790 points) or Coquard (from 55 to 460 points) clearly benefit. In fact, Pedersen is the cyclist with the sixth most UCI points in the season, whereas he would have been 11th under the old scoring system, as he would have scored much less in Giro and Tour. In contrast, the points of cyclists focused on the continental calendar have lost value. For example, De Lie is the cyclist with the 29th most UCI points this season, whereas he would be 20th under the old system.
In the interactive chart below, you can see the points of all the riders of the 22 teams aiming for WorldTour licenses.
In the fight for wildcards to the 2024 WorldTour, Lotto and Israel hold a big advantage over the rest. These two teams will have the right to participate in every WorldTour race in 2024, but with the privilege of being able to discard the races they do not wish to race, as Lotto has done with the Giro d’Italia 2023 (although expect to see Lotto return in 2024, as they declined their Giro wildcard before the new UCI points system was announced at the end of 2022).
For its part, Uno-X has settled into the third position that would give them access to all the WorldTour classics and Monuments in 2024. Maybe TotalEnergies will be able to close the gap during La Vuelta, which they enter thanks to being one of the top two ProTeams last year.
The Olympic ranking, which takes into account the points per nation in 2023, will distribute the places for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, whose route was presented during the Tour de France. In a race of 273 kilometres for men and 158 for women, it will be vital to have the maximum allotment of 4 cyclists to be able to play with more tactical options.
Regarding the men’s race, Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, Slovenia and France are the five countries that would currently race with 4 riders. However, Spain has come much closer after the Tour de France and the Clásica de San Sebastián (thanks in large part to Basques Pello Bilbao and Ion Izagirre), and could still enter the top5 with a successful Vuelta a España.
Regarding the women’s race, the Netherlands and Italy are sure to participate with 4 riders, but there is a close battle between Switzerland, Australia, Great Britain and France to have the maximum number of riders. In this fight by the nations for UCI points, in the last weeks it was discovered that Uzbekistan held a fake National Championships, to obtain more UCI points without having to organise them. Instead, the Uzbekistan National Championships will be held in the last week of August.