How a race in Italy could decide the future of several teams on the WorldTour

Thursday’s one-day race, the Coppa Sabatini in Italy, is usually an end-of-season reflection for most top drivers and teams.

Sandwiched between the Vuelta a España and the road world championships, the race typically draws a mix of WorldTour teams and low-level teams without much fanfare beyond ardent Tuscan fans.

Things are different in the final days of 2022, and this year’s Coppa Sabatini revealed how teams desperate to chase UCI points to avoid relegation from the WorldTour are racing to save their respective futures.

Classified as a 1.Pro race on the UCI calendar, the winner on Thursday walked away with 200 UCI points, which is more than finishing in the top 10 of the Tour de France or winning a grand tour stage.

With at least six teams on the relegation bubble at the end of the 2022 calendar, every point counts.

And that dynamic unfolded dramatically on Thursday.

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The hilly course of the circuit produced a natural selection, and the relegation teams Cofidis and EF Education-EasyPost carried out the elimination.

Daniel Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers) won in a group of five riders on the hilly circuit of Peccioli in Tuscany. It was good for Martínez’s fourth victory of 2022 and the British team’s 38th victory this season.

All eyes were on the dynamics of the leading group, however, and how that would play out with the ongoing WorldTour relegation battle unfolding across the peloton.

Two runners from EF Education-EasyPost and another from Cofidis – both teams facing possible relegation at the end of the season – were in the winning move at five constituencies.

EF Education-EasyPost finished second with Odd Christian Eiking and fourth with Esteban Chaves, as well as Andrea Piccolo in 10th, scoring points rated by the US registered team.

Cofidis driver Guillaume Martin took third place, also giving the French team some well-deserved points.

The value of each point can be reflected in how the relatively minor one-day race in Italy can have so much impact as the UCI sticks to its plan to award the next round of 18 licenses World Tour from 2023 to 2025.

On Thursday, Cofidis rebounded from 18th to 17th in the relegation table, leaving BikeExchange-Jayco in the “safe” last spot among the top 18 teams.

EF Education-EasyPost moved up a spot from 16th to 15th, now ahead of Arkéa-Samsic as the French ProTeam continues to struggle for season-ending points after losing Nairo Quintana’s transport in the Tour de France following his tramadol case.

The gap between 15th and 18th place in the relegation table remains very small, with less than 300 points separating EF Education-EasyPost and BikeExchange-Jayco.

Lotto-Soudal, now ranked 19th, are around 650 points behind the 18th-ranked team.

Every point counts as teams race down to the results of the chase across Europe in the final days of the 2022 racing season.

Thursday’s battle will recur in all races from now until the end of the 2022 season at the Tour of Langkawi.

A trio of one-day races this weekend in Belgium is sure to shake up the bottom half of the team standings again.

Winner takes all, with the top 18 teams qualifying for WorldTour licenses from 2023-2025.

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