Intermarché-Circus-Wanty wastes no time in UCI points battle with early season blitz
Analysis: Belgian team comes out swinging to help ensure WorldTour future while powerhouse squads wait for more lucrative racing.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Intermarché-Circus-Wanty didn’t waste any time amassing points in the UCI’s restarted promotion/relegation dogfight.
The UCI’s officially updated ranking as at January 31 puts the Belgian team on top of UAE Team Emirates and Jayco-AlUla after the opening bout of the new three-year battle for WorldTour licenses.
A series of top 10s in Australia from Hugo Page and three victories in Mallorca from Rui Costa and Kobe Goossens saw the team counter the loss of former leaders Alexander Kristoff, Domenico Pozzovivo, and Jan Hirt by getting to the top of the league, early.
“I’d be lying if I said I don’t look at the UCI points,” team director Aike Visbeek recently told Wielerflits.
“Our strategy is designed to ensure that we do not end up in a situation that many teams found themselves in during 2022. We want to be stable.”
🥇 Rui Costa
🥉 Biniam Girmay
🥇 Kobe Goossens
🥇 Kobe Goossens
🥈 Hugo Page
🥈 Biniam Girmay
6 races. 6 podiums. 3 victories.
But most importantly, an immense team spirit built for the rest of the season. pic.twitter.com/ysUvLg452h
— Intermarché-Circus-Wanty (@IntermarcheCW) January 30, 2023
The team already acknowledged it wouldn’t match its breakout 2022 season this year as it pivoted toward youth.
Also read: Intermarché team set for season of renewal in 2023
Intermarché’s forecast that it would need to race strategically and focus on low-profile, high-scoring races in order to guarantee its WorldTour future is already playing out as the points battle sits front of mind of all but the biggest of teams.
UCI rankings at 31/01/23
Racing across the Tour Down Under, Vuelta a San Juan and Challenge Mallorca has already seen teams active in amassing points in fear of getting caught out in 2025.
Last year saw endangered teams like Lotto-Soudal and Israel-PremierTech racing all across the globe as they looked to make up lost time in the UCI’s league. It was a chase that proved futile as they ended up booted from the money-spinning WorldTour.
The UCI league published Tuesday gives early hints at how the next three years might play out as the lucrative, “life-giving” status as a WorldTour team again boils down to a triennial tally of points.
This month, WorldTour powerhouses UAE Emirates and Ineos Grenadiers clambered up the ranking via the single-minded hunt for GC victory in the prestigious WorldTour-opening TDU.
Elsewhere, squads that last year failed in the 2022 hunt for survival Lotto-Dstny and Israel-PremierTech made sure to get off on the front foot by spreading their squads wherever the going looked good.
Intermarché-Circus-Wanty did similar.
“By intelligently selecting riders, it was possible to compete for victory every day with a balanced team and this gave the whole group a big motivation,” Intermarché chief Visbeek said Tuesday of his early season hot start.
For teams like UAE Emirates, Ineos Grenadiers, and Jumbo-Visma with their dozens of top talents in just one roster, the calendar is there for the taking as wins come relatively easily.
Smaller teams have to spread their bets and cross their fingers.
Jumbo-Visma, Deceuninck-Alpecin in no rush
The surprises in the UCI league table so far?
Jumbo-Visma and Alpecin-Deceuninck didn’t crack the top 20, at 28th (108 points) and 37th (78 points) respectively.
The two teams’ bosses aren’t likely to be too bothered by their lowly ranking – it’s hard to see them struggle to pull in points in coming months.
Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel roar back to road racing in the coming weeks for the spring classics, and Jumbo-Visma’s stage racer royalty will be following close behind in the UAE, Algarve, and Catalunya.
Team boss “Vino” won’t want to know. After a 2022 season that Alexander Vinokourov described as “rock bottom,” his team is down in 56th with just 31 points.
Three weeks of racing means little over three years. But Intermarché-Circus-Wanty sure won’t be complaining at its hot start so far.