A look at the World Tour rankings for the women’s teams aiming for promotion for 2024… and with one or two questions about their survival too which will be answered in the coming weeks.
Here’s the chart for the Women’s WorldTeams showing their total points from the 2022 and 2023 season. A reminder that the top-15 teams can qualify for a World Tour place for the following two seasons based on their combined rankings for 2022 + 2023 with a team’s best eight points scorers counting. Only it’s not so simple as points are necessary but not sufficient. First a team can only have one team in the World Tour, so UAE Development doesn’t count. Also, obviously, the team has to exist next year so here we can also scratch the other teams with the # suffixes, in this case EF-Tibco-SVB because the team’s folding, and Liv Racing as it’s merging with Jayco. So let’s revise the rankings with the eligible teams for next year based on what we know…
You can see current non-WorldTeams, denoted by asterisks, Ceratizit-WNT and AG-Soudal above the red line, they’re inside the top-15 and make the cut. Human Powered Health are above the line and with a thousand point margin. So far so obvious but when the UCI issued its press release about the teams applying for a World Tour licence two things stood out. First, that Laboral Kutxa-Fundación Euskadi were on the list of 16 teams chasing 15 spots, only as you can see they are well down on points. Second that Israel-PremierTech-Roland was just listed as Roland for 2024. Now we go into speculative territory as if this Swiss team has lost two of it’s title sponsors then it might be left scrambling for finances to stay in the World Tour; and a further alarm bell for this team’s outlook, at least as a World Tour squad, is that Human Powered Health has announced it’ll ride Factor bikes next year so Roland’s also lost its bike sponsor. Now it’s perfectly possible too that Swiss biscuit and snack maker Roland just wants its own team and that a new bike sponsor is onboard. But if not… then Laboral Kutxa-Fundación Euskadi could take that final spot.
We’ll get more news in December. Until then a quick look back to review the points haul. As you can see SD Worx came close to getting as many points in 2023 alone as the next best team Lidl-Trek got across two seasons, the Belgian team is so far ahead of its rivals, finishing with four riders in the first four places of the UCI rankings and Demi Vollering and Lotte Kopecky each scored more this year than Human Powered Health scored across two seasons. Similarly 12 teams got enough points in one of the seasons to have qualified ahead of Human Powered Health. Yet this isn’t to knock HPH as the American team had tough time in 2022, rescued some riders from the Zaaf fiasco earlier this year and this has got them a likely World Tour berth and with this they’re adding more riders for next year. Put another way some clever racing and recruitment works and with the sponsor pulling out of men’s cycling, it’s got a viable option to remain with the women now.
Finally being a Women’s WorldTeam gives the squad the option to ride all the World Tour events, but unlike the men not the obligation. However it’s much like the men as the value in WorldTeam status is this guarantee of a start in the most valuable races such as Strade Bianche, the Tour de France Femmes by Zwift and so on. Crucially it also comes with an established regulatory environment with a minimum wage, bank guarantees, central oversight of the teams by the UCI and more because currently in women’s cycling there is the World Tour and there the wild west outside. The men have the World Tour and then a second tier of ProTeams which are also under almost all the same regulations, and only then comes the pro-am wild west world of the Conti teams where, for example many riders can be unsalaried. For the women it’s World Tour and the essentially the Conti rulebook. So being outside of the World Tour makes so much more of a difference for the riders, there’s a real regulatory cliff-edge. For teams being outside they’ll worry about invotes but, again like the men, becoming a “must have” pick, so building a strong roster and creating a de facto World Tour team like EF are trying can also work too.
16 teams chasing 15 places? On points Laboral Kutxa-Fundación Euskadi look well behind but just as having a mechanical in a race can allow a straggler to come by, having a “financial” could allow the Basque team to make it. We’ll see if Swiss team Roland has lost its main co-sponsors and the impact this has but other teams aren’t immune from concerns either, take Jumbo-Visma given the visible sponsorship problems and the quieter story of riders and management leaving too.
Otherwise you can also see the domination of SD Worx here, they have two riders who if they were a team could each qualify for the World Tour just based on their points haul in one year.