The UCI points system is extended
The UCI is introducing changes to its points regulations so that, starting next year, Pro Team teams, the second division of cycling, will also have to fight for points if they want to be in a position to qualify for invitations to the three Grand Tours.
The UCI wants more selective participation in Grand Tours
Just when it seemed that we had forgotten to talk about UCI points, at least until another three years from now when the teams that will occupy the World Tour category for the next three years will be decided, cycling's highest body has approved a new modification to the points system, agreed with the organizers and team representatives.
This time the change does not concern the World Tour teams but focuses on the second category of cycling and their participation in the grand tours. A situation that every year, when the teams that will participate in each of them are known, always generates some controversy.
With the current situation, the 18 World Tour teams are guaranteed a place in the three Grand Tours. The participation is completed by the two best Pro Team teams of the previous year, in cases like last year, the teams relegated from the World Tour are included in this classification. These teams have an automatic invitation to all World Tour events but, unlike the top teams, they are not obliged to participate in them. In the current season, these places are occupied by Lotto-Dstny and TotalEnergies.
Finally, the tours have two more invitations, if any of the ProTeams with the right to do so renounce to participate, which until now were freely available and have usually gone to teams from the organizing country. For example, in the case of the next Vuelta a España, these places have gone to Burgos-BH and Caja Rural-Seguros RGA. Invitations, as we said, are always surrounded by controversy, as on many occasions they are more for sponsorship reasons than for sporting merit.
Well, from next year the free invitations will not be so free and, in order to participate in a Grand Tour, the invited team must have a certain ranking. The UCI has established a transition period whereby in 2024 the top 50 teams of 2023 will be eligible for invitations, in 2025 this ranking will be reduced to the top 40 teams of the previous year and, finally, from 2026 onwards, participation in grand tours will be limited to the top 30 Pro Teams of the previous season.
Returning to the example of La Vuelta, this would mean that none of the Spanish Pro Teams will be able to participate in the Spanish round from 2026 unless they improve their sporting level. In the last 4 years none of them has been able to finish among the top 30 teams. Something that will require greater investments and a greater professionalization of their structures if they do not want to encounter problems to be able to show off in what, for this type of squads, is one of the main showcases, although, on the positive side, it should result in an increase in the sporting level of these teams.