BikeExchange-Jayco signed Lukas Pöstlberger on Tuesday after seeing a recent flood of UCI points inch them further from the “danger zone” in the closing phase of this crucial relegation season.
Israel-Premier Tech didn’t share the same fortune and continues to dangle deep in the team rankings along with fellow WorldTour stragglers Lotto Soudal.
The Israeli-Canadian crew pinned down four of its core all-rounders this week ahead of a likely three-season spell in the ProTeam division starting next year.
Relegation battle update: Cofidis and Arkéa seem to be the only teams within Lotto’s reach, although Lotto’s comeback is very difficult now.
Israel is already relegated and almost 1000 points behind Total in the 2023 wildcard race.
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BikeExchange bouyed by world championships, brings in Pöstlberger
The Wollongong worlds week proved a boon for Australia’s home team BikeExchange-Jayco.
A road race bronze medal for Michael Matthews and a stack more points from Italian and Aussie riders in the mixed relay scored BikeExchange a significant haul of UCI rewards despite its riders racing in national jerseys. Meanwhile, Dylan Groenewegen piled more into the pot with a series of podium finishes wearing team-issue blue in Europe in the past fortnight.
WorldTour outfits EF Education-EasyPost and Cofidis both now sit below BikeExchange in the team rankings as the Australian squad looks to keep the momentum moving.
“I’ve still got four more races to go, so the season’s not finished yet. I think we have some good points today with third place here,” Matthews said after finishing third in Wollongong. “The form is good so I may as well continue trying to pick up a few more wins toward the end of the season, then we’ll see.”
- Matthews feels golden with Aussie bronze
- How BikeExchange is balancing the UCI points battle with racing in Wollongong
BikeExchange celebrated what could have been a crucial few weeks Tuesday by confirming Austrian stalwart Pöstlberger will race for the team in 2023 and 2024.
The 30-year-old makes for a marquee signing alongside fellow new recruits Eddie Dunbar, Zdenek Štybar, and Chris Harper.
“It is always important to have real all-round riders in the team that can contribute to a range of races and with Pöstlberger, we have seen on many occasions he is a valuable rider to have that can transfer his strength across races,” said team manager Brent Copeland.
Former Giro d’Italia and Critérium du Dauphiné stage winner Pöstlberger will bolster BikeExchange through the calendar as it looks set for a few more years in the WorldTour.
“We are really strengthening the foundations of our team for 2023 and beyond, as we look to target the general classification in stage races but also develop our classics group and sprint train,” Copeland said.
“To bring Pöstlberger into the team, with his experience and skillset, it was a really important signing for us as we continue to grow.”
Israel Premier-Tech battens down hatches in face of uncertain future
Israel Premier-Tech is staring down the prospect of relegation when the UCI season shuts down this fall.
The team of Sylvan Adams dangles far off the pace in the survival chase and seems set to race in the ProTour division in the immediate future.
Sponsors, top riders, and other equipment backers could abandon Israel-Premier Tech without the security of WorldTour racing and invites.
The squad got busy bolting down a core of its workhorse riders in the face of uncertainty this week and renewed contracts with Mads Würtz Schmidt, Tom van Asbroeck, Rick Zabel and the Canadian rider Guillaume Boivin.
“Guillaume, Mads, Tom, and Rick have all proved themselves to be good teammates, riding in support of our leaders, but also capable of taking an opportunity for themselves. They have contributed to key moments in the team’s history and we are looking forward to seeing them continue with IPT,” team manager Kjell Carlström said.
Boivin and Co. currently don’t know if they’ll be racing for a WorldTour squad in 2023. Israel Premier-Tech owner Adams isn’t going to drop a division easily however.
The affluent team backer is threatening legal action if the UCI imposes relegation regulation, while the governing body is shrugging off the warning.
“To threaten our team and the other teams with this relegation, it’s just so harmful, and I don’t see the purpose of it,” Adams said earlier this month. “I don’t see what’s to be gained. We have 20, maybe 21 teams who have the budget to be WorldTour. Other sports encourage expansion. This is destructive.”
Thirteen of Israel-Premier Tech’s current roster retire or are out of contract at the close of 2022. Marquee riders Chris Froome, Michael Woods, Jakob Fuglsang, and Giacomo Nizzolo are all pinned down for 2023.