Women’s WorldTour points fight: Promotion, relegation contest on a knife edge
Six teams within 1,000 points on the cusp of WorldTour promotion or relegation, Zaaf challenge falls away amidst rider exodus.
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Life at the busy end of the promotion and relegation contest in the Women’s WorldTour remains balanced on a knife edge.
Four months into the season, six teams remain within 1,000 points of each other near the cut-off point with three current WorldTeams still set for relegation and three Continental squads holding onto promotion spots, for now.
Meanwhile, Spanish squad Zaaf is falling back down the rankings amidst controversy about its paying of riders following a strong start to the season. News of the team’s financial trouble broke in March and, in the last month, almost half of the team has left with many riders finding new teams already.
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With Audrey Cordon-Ragot going to Human Powered Health and Lizzie Stannard snapped up by Israel-Premier Tech Roland, the team could still have an impact on the promotion and relegation fight even if its own ambitions have fallen by the wayside. Mareille Meijering and Lucie Jounier have also found new teams after leaving the squad, moving to Movistar and Coop-Hitec Products respectively.
At the top of the rankings, SD Worx has once again moved ahead of Trek-Segafredo after a near-perfect spring. Demi Vollering’s Ardennes triple was worth 1,200 points alone to the team, seeing it soar past the 7,000-point mark for the season.
Vollering is expected to continue racking up the points for the Dutch squad as the Calendar moves into the stage racing phase of the season. Next week, the Vuelta Femenina will dominate the focus off the focus of many big teams, but there is a string of smaller multi-day events that give squads a chance to rack up the points while most of the big names are in Spain.
In the balance
With the UAE Development team still sitting in the top 10 of the UCI’s two-year rankings, the cut-off for promotion remains at 16th in the overall standings.
As things stand, Ceratizit-WNT, AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step, and Lifeplus-Wahoo are in promotion spots, should they fulfill the other requirements to make it into the top tier.
Having started the season well down in the rankings, Uno-X, Human Powered Health, and Israel-Premier Tech Roland are still working their way up the standings, while Parkhotel Valkenburg is nestled in the middle of them.
Between AG Insurance in 15th place and Israel-Premier Tech Roland in 20th, fewer than 1,000 points separate the six teams. Cut out Israel and it’s just 700 points between the five teams above them, so every point counts when it comes to securing a prestigious WorldTour slot.
Despite falling down a place in the rankings since last month, Ceratizit-WNT still has a comfortable gap on the teams below it and looks destined for promotion. If they can keep up the momentum they’ve had in the early part of the season, just two places would be up for grabs at the end of the season.
Uno-X, which started the year as the lowest-ranked WorldTeam, has been making strides this spring and looks the most likely to keep its top-tier license. It’s less than 200 points behind Lifeplus-Wahoo, which is in 16th spot, and in touching distance of AG Insurance as well.
After a big start to the year, Human Powered Health has slowed in its points haul lately. However, the signing of Cordon-Ragot could pay dividends and put it back in the fight.
Israel-Premier Tech Roland is most at risk of losing its WorldTeam license at close to 1,000 points behind Lifeplus-Wahoo and it has been lagging behind in its performance this spring.
At the start of the season, Zaaf had looked as though it could trouble the WorldTeam spots or at least put itself in a place where it could earn automatic invitations to races. However, its rise through the rankings has been reversed after its recent troubles as it slips back down.
A key phase
Of the teams huddled closely around that key 16th place in the rankings, just Israel-Premier Tech Roland is actually racing the Vuelta next week. WorldTeams are not required to race all WorldTour events and Human Powered Health and Uno-X have prioritised smaller races in an effort to hoover up vital points.
Lifeplus-Wahoo, AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step, Parkhotel Valkenburg, and Ceratizit-WNT are all also missing from that start list. One of the teams could get a start at the Vuelta is Zaaf folds in the coming days, but they may not want it.
Like some of the men’s teams did last year, most of the teams have a program of smaller one-day races, plus the two-day Festival Elsy Jacobs, to try and give themselves more bang for their buck in the coming weeks.
How the rankings change over the next couple of weeks could be an indication as to which approach is better when it comes to scoring key points.
Can Israel-Premier Tech Roland use the seven-day Vuelta Femenina to close the gap to those around it or will the other teams surge further away from it?
|Ranking||Team||2022 points||2023 points||Total|
|7||UAE Team ADQ||6,027.00||3100||9,127.00|
|10||Valcar-Travel & Service/UAE Development*||5,975.00||351.65||6,326.65|
|13||Liv Racing TeqFind||2,575.00||1164||3,739.00|
|15||AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step||1,360.00||1483||2,843.00|
|17||Uno-X Pro Cycling||995.66||1628||2,623.66|
|19||Human Powered Health||914.00||1257||2,171.00|
|20||Israel-Premier Tech Roland||1,380.80||508||1,888.80|
|21||Team Coop-Hitech Products||1,247.00||453||1,700.00|
|22||St Michel-Auber 93||1,000.33||645||1,645.33|
|23||Atom Deweloper Posciellux.Pl Wroclaw||1,564.00||64||1,628.00|
|27||Tashkent City Women||1,052.00||270.15||1,322.15|