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After a disappointing 2022, Human Powered Health is making up for lost time as the fight to stay in the Women’s WorldTour gets well underway.
The American squad was the biggest winner in the opening month of the season, earning almost as many points in January as it did in all of last year. The massive 847-point haul at the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race helped the team climb 10 places in the combined 2022-23 rankings, putting it on the cusp of a vital top-15 spot.
Four years since the WorldTeam license system was introduced, this year marks the first time that the UCI’s promotion/relegation system will be used in the women’s peloton. To avoid being bumped down, or to make the step up, teams must finish in the top 15 teams with points from the last two seasons counting toward the total.
- Promotion and relegation battle takes over women’s peloton as WorldTeam licenses up for grabs
- Human Powered Health inspired by Intermarché-Circus-Wanty as it seeks WorldTour survival
- Tour Down Under report card: WorldTour fireworks, Aussies rule, points matter
Any team could lose its WorldTeam license if it doesn’t finish high enough, but some teams are already out of reach. In reality, there are just three teams that started the season at risk of demotion.
Human Powered Health was one of those, having been the bottom-ranked WorldTeam at the end of last year. Heading to Australia last month proved a wise choice with WorldTour-level points available with a much less stacked field to compete against.
Israel-Premier Tech Roland, another of the three top-tier teams at risk this season, also went to Australia but didn’t get as much bang for its buck. However, it still took home over 100 points to add to its tally, plus an extra 40 at the Women Pro Cycling Costa de Almería one-day race following Tamara Dronova’s sixth-place finish.
Uno-X is now the bottom-ranked WorldTour team following Human Powered Health’s stellar start to the year. The Norwegian has not yet raced this year and will make its debut at the Vuelta CV Feminas next week, as well as heading to the third round of the WorldTour at the UAE Tour.
WorldTeams getting busy
Almost half the Women’s WorldTeams are yet to race but all will be underway by the end of February. Jumbo-Visma will be the last team to make its 2023 road debut with a start planned for the third week of February at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana.
With the season getting busier, while most roster sizes have hardly grown, teams are being increasingly selective with their programs. The rules do not yet require WorldTeams to compete at all WorldTour races, unlike in the men’s WorldTour, and teams are making the most of it.
Indeed, just six WorldTeams made the trip to Australia for the opening WorldTour events. It will be a balance for teams as they look to avoid stretching their riders too thin while also competing enough to keep themselves in the top 15.
At this time, only two teams have signaled their intentions to seek promotion at the end of the year, though more could come out of the woodwork if they have good fortunes this season.
Ceratizit-WNT was one of the two that were keen to step up and it enjoyed a strong season debut with victory in Almería. Ariana Findanza’s win was combined with top 10s from Sandra Alonso and Nadine Gill gave the team 200 points from a single day of racing.
Last year’s men’s promotion/relegation contest showed that getting multiple riders into points-scoring positions could pay dividends by the end of the year.
AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step is the second team intent on getting promotion. The Belgian squad has a small number of points thanks to Anya Louw at the Australian nationals, but it won’t start competition proper until the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, which starts on February 16.
While they’ve got a lot of ground to make, Laboral Kutxa-Fundacion Euskadi and Zaaf Pro Cycling will be teams to watch across the season. After an injection of cash, Laboral Kutxa-Fundacion Euskadi boasts a budget of €1.8m and will want some return on that investment.
Meanwhile, Zaaf is a new squad that managed to pinch French champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot following the demise of the B&B Hotels team. The team is starting from zero but a big year could see it troubling the final spots in the top 15.
Next month will see 12 days of racing, spread across one-day events and stage races ranging from .1 events to WorldTour. It will give us a clear indication as to who is going strong ahead of the main classics in March and could give some teams further opportunity to put a cushion between themselves and relegation.
Women’s WorldTeam 2022-23 ranking
|Ranking||Team||2022 points||2023 points||Total|
|7||UAE Team ADQ||6,027.00||99||6,126.00|
|9||Valcar-Travel & Service/UAE Development*||5,975.00||5||5,980.00|
|14||Liv Racing TeqFind||2,575.00||0||2,575.00|
|17||Human Powered Health||914.00||847||1,761.00|
|18||Atom Deweloper Posciellux.Pl Wroclaw||1,564.00||0||1,564.00|
|19||Team Coop-Hitech Products||1,247.00||281||1,528.00|
|20||Israel-Premier Tech Roland||1,380.80||142||1,522.80|
|21||AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step||1,360.00||34||1,394.00|
|22||St Michel-Auber 93||1,000.33||144||1,144.33|
|23||Tashkent City Women||1,052.00||0||1,052.00|
|26||Uno-X Pro Cycling||995.66||0||995.66|
Bold = WorldTeams, * = Development teams (not eligible for promotion)