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SYDNEY, Australia (VN) — UCI President David Lappartient says that there could be some changes to how points are dished out to teams next season, but there will not be a “revolution” of the system.
With the UCI’s new relegation-promotion system set to be fully implemented for the first time this season, there has been a lot of discussion about its impact and how it operates. This year, up to two teams will be demoted from the WorldTour, while two ProTeams could be promoted based on their points haul from the past three seasons.
Currently, Lotto Soudal and Israel-Premier Tech are at risk of losing their place in the WorldTour while Alpecin-Deceuninck and Arkéa-Samsic look set to go up. Arkéa-Samsic chose to skip the Giro d’Italia earlier this season as it focused on other races to boost its points haul, while other teams have opted to send their top riders to smaller races for the same reason.
“There are some discussions regarding the points scale because that’s always something that we can modify. I’m not sure that there is a perfect system. What is the right level between races so that we can all different opinions. We tried to find the best system, but you have to win races and you will win points,” Lappartient said during a press conference at the UCI Road World Championships.
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The way in which points are awarded has been a season-long discussion with some teams choosing not to send their best riders to stage races in favor of one-day events. One stage victory at the Tour de France will give a rider and team 120 points, and the Tour of Poland offers 50 points for a stage win, but victory at Dwars door Vlaanderen offers some 300 points.
Early in the season, some teams realized that they could get more points if they targeted a series of one-day races rather than locking their best riders into a stage race. Back in June, Jumbo-Visma rider Wout van Aert described the system as “contradictory” and said that there should be a re-evaluation of how the points were awarded.
Lappartient said that any change to the system would be minor and it would need to be done ahead of coming season, before the next three-year cycle was locked in.
“They have to be in proportion and if you put too many points in the different stages then you have an imbalance. The points size of the stage races will be so high in comparison with the classics,” he said. “We have to find where we put the limit. We agreed together with the teams, the organizers, and the riders to see if we can have a look to make some adjustments. There are some to be discussed but it will not be a complete revolution in the system because we need to keep a certain balance.
“The system has to be improved before the beginning of the three-year cycle. We can’t change the points scale in the middle. This is what we are working on now probably for January.”
The UCI has previously said that it will not expand the WorldTour beyond its current 18-team system. Meanwhile, last week, Lappartient said that he was confident it would stand up to any legal scrutiny after Israel-Premier Tech boss Sylvan Adams threatened to sue the UCI.
Lappartient said that a closed system was not acceptable to some of cycling stakeholders and the current system was a compromise between organizers, teams, and the UCI.
“We wanted the system to be an open system. That’s not the DNA of our sport and that was clearly a red line to avoid a war with the organizers. The compromise with the stakeholders was to have this system with a three-year ranking and to keep only the top 18 teams,” he said. “That means that it could be the same as the existing ones or it could be two new ones. There is no reason to keep the existing teams if they are not as good as the others.
“Of course, that’s not exactly the North American system where you have the franchises, but that’s not what the stakeholders wanted in cycling, they wanted an open system. It’s part of the sport, we have to accept the sport system.”
Questioned whether there was any consideration about delaying the implementation of the promotion-relegation system, Lappartient categorically said it would go ahead. He added that the UCI would open itself up to even more legal battles if it tried to make any changes with just weeks to go before the final races of the season.
“If you postpone the system for one year then you have the teams who want to join the WorldTour that will claim that we changed the rules at the last minute and this will be challenged. When you modify the system, you have to think about the consequences. Then you would have a system where Alpecin and Arkéa will challenge the UCI if we change the system,” he said.