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Unlike most professional sports, there is no real advanced analytics to rate individual performers or teams as a whole in cycling, which makes objective big-picture analysis incredibly difficult. So, since an obsession of mine is attempting to figure out the most effective way to build a pro cycling team, over at Beyond the Peloton I’ve created my own team in-house rating system, called the BTP NET Rating, that should let us project how much teams have gotten better or worse over the transfer window.
This NET rating was created via the simple process of taking each team’s Pro Cycling Stats points total from the 2021 season and adding/subtracting the number of aggregate PCS points they gained/lost in the transfer market, which illustrates how the teams would rank if every rider currently on the roster was on the team in the year prior.
Since riders don’t perform exactly the same every season and are subject to progression and regression based on age, experience and opportunities, this system is obviously far from perfect. However, it does give us a nice baseline from which to operate and gives us a pretty clear picture of each team’s current personnel strengths and weaknesses. I also think that it helps show an objective rating of each team’s off-season, which is important since there tends to be a fundamental misunderstanding among pro cycling team managers on what makes a successful pro cycling team. This means that management teams with more numbers-based approaches can capitalize on the inefficiencies created by the number-blindness prevalent in the sport.
This means that just compiling PCS data for your roster and following the simple logic that riders who have performed well in the past tend to perform well in the future while young riders tend to get better and older riders tend to get worse can take a manager a long way towards building a successful pro cycling team.
2022 Team BTP NET Rankings
1) Team Jumbo-Visma – 9572
2)UAE-Team Emirates – 8899
3) INEOS Grenadiers – 8413
4) Quick-Step – Alpha Vinyl – 7379
5) Bahrain – Victorious – 7241
6) BORA – hansgrohe – 7125
7) Trek – Segafredo – 5371
8) EF Education – EasyPost- 5263
9) Groupama – FDJ – 5174
10) Cofidis, Solutions Crédits – 5000
11)AG2R Citroën Team – 4696
12) Israel Start-Up Nation – 4543
13) Team BikeExchange – 3586
14) Intermarché Wanty Gobert – 3391
15) Astana – Premier Tech – 3229
16) Lotto Soudal – 2907
17) Movistar Team – 2886
18) Team DSM – 2459
Below is a spreadsheet showing how the BTP NET 2021 rankings for each team compare to where they finished in the PCS rankings at the end of 2021.
2022 NET PCS Totals & 2021/2022 Ranking Change
This somewhat simple exercise gives a lot more clarity than we would normally get. For example, we can clearly see that teams like Jumbo-Visma and UAE have added to what are already incredibly strong rosters, while Movistar, who was until recently a consistently top team, is entering 2022 with one of the weakest rosters in the WorldTour.
And, if we dive in a bit further and examine each team’s gained/lost PCS points over the off-season, we can isolate and rank the quality of each team’s transfer strategy.
PCS Points Gained/Lost Per Team Between 2021 & 2022
1) I’ve touched on it a few times this off-season, but at least from a PCS points perspective, Quick-Step has taken a step back. In fact, as we can see above, they are the biggest ‘loser’ from their 2021 finish to their projected 2022 finish.
- This is partly a function of their aggressive addition of young riders and the shedding of stars like Sam Bennett and João Almeida over the off-season. While this is in line with Team Principal Patrick Lefevere’s ‘buy low, sell high’ strategy, it signals that the expert transfer market operator has potentially taken it a step too far this time. The team still has stars like World Champion Julian Alaphilippe, Tour of Flanders winner Kasper Asgreen and Wunderkind Remco Evenepoel, but the supporting ranks have been thinned, which will put more pressure on the team’s top tier in 2022.
2) The Astana team, which has been rocked by the political turmoil in its home country, Kazakhstan, and the recent ousting of Prime Minister, Askar Mamin, who was the team manager Alexander Vinokourov’s biggest political backer, also has serious sporting issues.
- Their extremely baffling transfer strategy of sending out nearly every top-level rider except Alexey Lutsenko while signing old and/or uneven stars like Vincenzo Nibali and Miguel Ángel López, both of whom have raced for the team in the past.
3) Jumbo-Visma, home of two of the sport’s most dominant riders, Primož Roglič and Wout van Aert, along with potentially the best up-and-coming young grand tour talent in Jonas Vingegaard, continued to get better over the off-season.
- They added big names like Rohan Dennis and Tiesj Benoot over the off-season to bolster their already formidable grand tour lineups, but their biggest points haul came in the form of Christophe Laporte. This 29-year-old Frenchman is a perennially underrated one-day rider who will bolster the team’s classic squad.
- They did lose Tony Martin to retirement, along with Dylan Groenewegen and George Bennett to transfers, but after the dust settled, they emerged with a net increase of 1,048 PCS points. This most likely signals that they are finally ready to take a serious run at Ineos and QuickStep for the sport’s most dominant team.
4) UAE-Team Emirates, which, compliments of the historically dominant run of two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar, has been essentially a one-man team over the past few seasons. But this past off-season has seen management make some serious additions and signal they are ready to grow into a true well-rounded contender.
- Headline additions for 2022 are added sprint star Pascal Ackermann and budding GC talent João Almeida. These incoming talents saw the team top the net incoming points rankings and land in an impressive second place in the team overall BTP team rankings. It remains to be seen if they can actually put it all together on the road in 2022, but on paper, the team is set to transition from a team that sits back in grand tours to one that takes the fight to programs like Ineos and Jumbo.
5) After a nightmare off-season prior to the 2021 season, Team DSM’s rapid decline continued again in 2022. The team, which dazzled as recently as the 2020 Tour de France, went from a total of 5,460 PCS points in 2020, to 3,579 in 2021, to a projected 2,459 in 2022. They might not have led the pack in terms of lost points again this off-season, but this is only because, at this point, they have so few that there is a limit to what they can lose.
- This regression is shocking in terms of volume and speed and follows a highly concerning trend of consistently losing their biggest talents as soon as they start winning. Just this past off-season, they lost Tiesj Benoot and Ilan van Wilder mid-contract, but the biggest loss might be Michael Storer, who decamped for Groupama-FDJ this off-season, just after a breakout Vuelta a España where he grabbed two stage wins. Team manager Iwan Spekenbrink will have his work cut out for him in 2022 due to this disappointing off-season, but it is worth noting that the Dutch manager has a knack for replacing departing stars with previously unheard-of breakout talent. And it will be all the more impressive if he can continue this trend after two crushing transfer seasons.