UAE Hold off Jumbo while Uno-X and Total fight for Wildcards | UCI September Ranking Analysis

With less than a month of the season to go, several important battles in the UCI rankings are still open. UAE Team Emirates leads Jumbo-Visma by only 387 points in the race to win the annual ranking, after Jumbo’s full podiums in La Vuelta and European Championships. In addition, Uno-X leads Total Energies by 281 points in the race for automatic invitations to next year’s WorldTour classics, but they could be the wildcards for the entire WorldTour if the merger between Jumbo and QuickStep materialises. Also at stake are the quota places for the Paris Olympics, with very narrow margins between some of the top nations.

2023 Rankings

It seems surprising that the team that has won Giro, Tour and Vuelta and recently occupied the podium of the European Championships is not leading the UCI ranking. However, UAE’s season has also been impressive and they are making the most of the smaller races, such as the Tour of Luxembourg this past week, where they have put four men in the top seven of the GC. Without the points obtained by UAE in Luxembourg, Jumbo-Visma would have overtaken UAE in the UCI ranking.

If we analyse the points per race category, we can see that Jumbo-Visma has scored more in the WorldTour and World Championships, but UAE has made the difference in the ProSeries and .1 races, where they have scored 2,600 UCI points more than Jumbo Visma. In any case, the difference with the other teams is enormous.

According to ProCyclingStats, UAE will take part in 14 races until the end of the season, while Jumbo will take part in 10. In addition, Vingegaard and Kuss will not race for the remainder of the season, so Roglic and Van Aert will take the main responsibility for scoring the necessary UCI points. However, it seems that Wout van Aert will race the Gravel World Championships instead of Lombardia or Paris-Tours, which will benefit UAE, as gravel does not award UCI points. As a reminder, the 2023 season will officially end right after the Tour of Guangxi on 17 October.

On another note, the news of the possible merger between Jumbo-Visma and Soudal-QuickStep could potentially affect the relegation battle. It is unclear whether a ProTeam (e.g. Israel, Tudor or Q36.5) could buy the surplus WorldTour licence or, on the contrary, we would have a 17-team WorldTour in 2024. In a hypothetical purchase of a WorldTour licence, the UCI would also have to decide whether the buyer also acquires the seller’s UCI points or not. In recent years there have been three licence purchases by 2nd division teams: CCC from BMC in 2019, Israel from Katusha in 2020 and, most recently, Intermarché from CCC in 2021.

If one of the ProTeams does not purchase the available licence, the UCI can also allocate the one remaining licence if there are less than 18 registered WorldTeams.

If less than 18 teams are registered as UCI WorldTeams (following procedures for the award of licenses or annual registration), the Professional Cycling Council decides if and when the available licences can be allocated. Any such allocation shall, in principle, not take place, before the end of the following season.

Article 2.15.009

In any case, at the end of 2025 the UCI will again distribute 18 WorldTour licences to the 18 teams with the most UCI points in the cumulative ranking from 2023-2025. A merger would be good news for the teams now outside the top 18, such as Astana, Arkéa, Uno-X and TotalEnergies, as it would increase their chances of getting a WorldTour licence for the next licence cycle (2026-2028). Currently, those four teams are between 2,000 and 3,000 points below the 18th position, marked by AG2R Citroën.

Teams in need of points will have good opportunities in October. In addition to the usual calendar, there will be two Continental Games, which will distribute points as if they were continental championships. From 3-5 October are the Asian Games, where especially Astana can score hundreds of “easy” UCI points. Also, on 22 and 29 October, the Juegos Panamericanos will be held, which will already count for the 2024 season, but are equally important points in the cumulative ranking of the three-year period.

In the interactive chart below, you can see the points of all the riders of the 22 teams aiming for WorldTour licenses. It is especially useful to look at the 20 riders scoring points in UAE and Jumbo, who are fighting to win the ranking, and in Uno-X and Total, who are fighting for the wildcards.

2024 Wildcards

The fight for wildcards would also be affected if a merger of Jumbo and QuickStep occurs and the remaining WorldTour licence is not sold or re-allocated by the UCI. The UCI regulations contemplate the possibility of a 17-team WorldTour to distribute the wildcards. In that case, the top 3 ProTeams would have automatic invitations to the entire WorldTour, while the fourth ProTeam would have invitations only to the WorldTour classics.

Lotto and Israel have already secured their ticket to the whole WorldTour calendar in 2024, so Uno-X would be the team to benefit the most, as they are currently the third ProTeam. However, their lead is only 281 points over TotalEnergies. With so few races to go, this is not a trivial advantage, but anything can still happen. If they obtain a newly available third wildcard to the entire 2024 WorldTour, Uno-X could make their debut in the Giro and Vuelta, after making their debut in the Tour de France this season.

Olympic Rankings

The men’s and women’s Olympic rankings are also very close at the end of the season. The top 5 nations will be able to field a maximum of four riders in the Olympic Road Race in Paris, but those positions have yet to be decided. The rankings will be finalised after the Tour of Guangxi for both men and women.

In the men’s ranking, Spain has recovered much of its disadvantage with France and Great Britain in the fight for the top 5. In the Italian classics and the Tour of Guangxi, they can take advantage of Mas, Landa, Bilbao, Rodríguez or Ayuso to overtake France or Great Britain. France will count on the great form of Pavel Sivakov, while Great Britain will depend mainly on the Yates brothers. The fight will probably be open until the Tour of Guangxi.

In the women’s rankings, Switzerland, Great Britain, France, Australia and Poland are still in contention for the top5. Although Switzerland and Great Britain have a significant lead, there are still the two Chinese races of the Women’s WorldTour, where the ranking could change. In the image below, you can see the position of your nation.

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