Fight for Women’s WorldTour spots already tight as top teams kickstart 2023 season

Human Powered Health continues to close in on security of the top 15 in fight to avoid relegation, AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step nears promotion spot.

Photo: Alex Broadway/Getty Images

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AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step has been one of the big winners through February in the fight for Women’s WorldTeam licenses for next season.

American squad Human Powered Health has also maintained its early-season momentum as it looks to keep its place among the top-15 teams. Meanwhile, other at-risk squads Uno-X and Israel-Premier Tech Roland have had far slower starts to the season and survival still looks far away.

At the top of the table, Trek-Segafredo has dominated the opening races of the year thanks to its 1-2 at the UAE Tour with Elisa Longo Borghini and Gaia Realini, and Amanda Spratt’s hugely consistent performances at the Tour Down Under and the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana.

The American-registered squad is already putting some big distance between itself and those around it, stamping an early claim on the title of the top team in the world. SD Worx didn’t enjoy the strong start it may have hoped for with Lorena Wiebes in the UAE, but it’s likely to enjoy a pick-up in performances as the classics arrive this weekend.

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AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step has made no bones about its intentions to get a WorldTeam license for next year. The Belgian squad had already applied for one this year, but it did not have enough points to fend off its fellow applicants.

Following a busy off-season of new signings, the team has hit the ground running with its debut race of 2023 at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. Justine Ghekhiere took a shock win in the overall classification, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio finished second and won a stage, and Lotta Henttala took two runner-up finishes in the sprints.

All three riders were new to the team for this season and their impact has been felt immediately. The points haul of 610 from that one race is almost half of what they took throughout all of 2022 and sees the team climb to 18th in the combined rankings, which will decide who gets promoted and who is demoted.

There’s still plenty of the season to go, but it’s a promising start.

Having a big start will be key for teams looking to get a WorldTeam license for the first time, or protect the one that they have, but maintaining that momentum is equally as important as more teams get racing. All of the top 20 teams in the combined rankings have now contested at least one event and big jumps up the rankings are going to be fewer and far between.

Human Powered Health had a big start to the year when it headed down to Australia for its WorldTour races. With fewer top teams heading down under, the competition for points was a little bit easier.

The team is taking that idea into the whole season and it was the only WorldTeam that competed at a series of one-day races in Cyprus known as the Aphrodite’s Sanctuary Cycling Race. It bore fruit with the team racking up wins in all three 1.2 races, earning them over 300 valuable points.

While the team didn’t move up any more ranking spots, it continues to close the gap to that all-important 15th place. It could reach that point in the coming months. This will be helped by the UAE Development Team (formerly Valcar-Travel & Service), which is going to start quickly slipping down the standings when racing really ramps up next month.

Israel-Premier Tech Roland and Uno-X are not enjoying as strong an opening to the season, but both are beginning to make some headway. They will need to pick up some pace soon, though, if either hopes to keep their WorldTeam licenses for 2024.

New Spanish squad Zaaf continues to be an interesting factor in this ranking challenge. The team will only have one season’s worth of points after making its debut this year but it has already started racking them up.

The team put in a strong collective performance at the UAE Tour with Mareille Meijring taking a top-10 finish in the GC, while Canadian Maggie Coles-Lister put in some strong stage results. Zaaf also hit up some strong performances in Spain and Australia over the last month.

While it has a big mountain to climb to trouble the lower end of the promotion zone, Zaaf is not to be underestimated as this season progresses.

Ranking Team 2022 points 2023 points Total
1 Trek-Segafredo 11,277.65 2062 13,339.65
2 SD Worx 11,629.01 363 11,992.01
3 FDJ Suez 9,838.33 1283 11,121.33
4 Team DSM 10,671.33 392 11,063.33
5 Movistar 9,378.98 807 10,185.98
6 Canyon-SRAM 7,111.67 419 7,530.67
7 UAE Team ADQ 6,027.00 910 6,937.00
8 Jayco-AlUla 5,298.69 787 6,085.69
9 Valcar-Travel & Service/UAE Development* 5,975.00 13 5,988.00
10 Jumbo-Visma 4,815.36 58 4,873.36
11 EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 3,016.01 1053 4,069.01
12 Fenix-Deceuninck 2,884.33 75 2,959.33
13 Ceratizit-WNT 2,401.33 378 2,779.33
14 Liv Racing TeqFind 2,575.00 93 2,668.00
15 Lifeplus-Wahoo 2,327.00 166 2,493.00
16 Parkhotel Valkenburg 2,157.00 42 2,199.00
17 Human Powered Health 914.00 1109 2,023.00
18 AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step 1,360.00 610 1,970.00
19 Team Coop-Hitech Products 1,247.00 381 1,628.00
20 Israel-Premier Tech Roland 1,380.80 246 1,626.80
21 Atom Deweloper Posciellux.Pl Wroclaw 1,564.00 0 1,564.00
22 Canyon-SRAM Generation* 978.00 438.32 1,416.32
23 St Michel-Auber 93 1,000.33 230 1,230.33
24 Tashhkent City Women 1,052.00 172 1,224.00
25 Uno-X Pro Cycling 995.66 199 1,194.66
26 BePink 951.32 76 1,027.31
27 ZAAF Cycling 0.00 1015 1,015.00

Bold = WorldTeams, * = Development teams (not eligible for promotion)

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