YEAR OF THE SUPERTEAM
Followers of the English Premier League will know that the 20 teams can be roughly sorted into three groups, which occasionally overlap, but not enough to skew the long term average. These are the Big Six, the quite good teams and the relegation fodder.
The WorldTour is settling into a similar pattern. At the top, there are the superteams - Ineos, Jumbo, Deceuninck, UAE and perhaps Bahrain. At the bottom, teams like DSM, Qhubeka, BikeExchange, Ag2r, Intermarché, Cofidis and
Lotto are struggling to win the big races. Everybody else is doing okay, in the middle.
The results back this up, especially in the biggest races. In 2021, Ineos won the Giro, UAE Emirates won the Tour and Jumbo-Visma won the Vuelta. Just as they all did in 2020. Of the last 15 grand tours, these three teams have won 12. 2021 was the ninth year in a row that Deceuninck have won more races than any other team: their riders took 65 victories, 22 ahead of Jumbo-Visma. Next on the wins list: Ineos Grenadiers and UAE Emirates. Success is increasingly concentrated in these dominant teams. Likewise, fewer teams are racking up lots of wins. Looking at the last 10 years (and missing out the anomalous 2020), 2021 saw fewer teams winning 19 or more races than any other - only eight teams managed it, compared to 10 in 2019, 12 in 2018 and 15 in 2016.
Money is a significant driving force. Ineos are the richest cycling team there has ever been; UAE Emirates and Bahrain Victorious are underpinned by sovereign wealth funds. The only consolation for the smaller, less successful teams: there’s no formal system of relegation. from the WorldTour.