2023 BTP NET Ratings: UAE & Jumbo-Visma Bulk Up While Ineos Struggle to Hold Pace
A macro-level 2023 pre-season prediction via the unveiling of the BTP NET Ratings
With the announcement that Astana has officially signed Mark Cavendish and Cees Bol to contracts for the upcoming 2023 season, we can finally unveil the BTP NET 2023 Rankings.
What Are the BTP NET Ratings?
Unlike most professional sports, there is no real advanced analytics to rate individual performers or teams as a whole, 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, 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.
I created the NET rating via the simple process of taking each team’s total Pro Cycling Stats points total from the 2022 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.
This exercise has done a surprisingly good job of predicting performance for teams in the upcoming season despite two major blind spots:
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.
Also, this exercise doesn’t consider that roughly half of a pro team might not even be attempting to get results, which, in turn, will generate points. But, with teams increasingly taking riders who are able, or have in the past, scored personal results and turning them into domestiques, we can still get a decent overview of a team’s overall strength.
All in all, the NET Rating 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.
2023 Team BTP NET Rankings
1) UAE-Team Emirates - 14332
2) Team Jumbo-Visma - 13081
3) INEOS Grenadiers - 10399
4) BORA - Hansgrohe - 9834
5) Soudal - Quick Step - 9508
6) Alpecin-Deceuninck - 8318
7) Groupama - FDJ - 8120
8) Bahrain - Victorious - 7855
9) Cofidis - 7699
10) Arkéa Samsic - 7283
11) Trek - Segafredo - 7276
12) Movistar Team - 7095
13) EF Education–EasyPost - 6931
14) Intermarché Wanty Gobert - 6927
15) AG2R Citroën Team - 6176
16) Team TotalEnergies - 5734
17) Team Jayco AlUla - 5602
18) Lotto-Dtsy - 5448
19) Israel Premier Tech - 5035
20) Team DSM - 4286
21) Uno-X - 4006
22) Astana - 3983
Below is a spreadsheet showing how each team's BTP NET 2023 rankings compare to where they finished in the PCS rankings at the end of 2022.
2023 NET PCS Totals & Off-Season 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. In contrast, Intermarché, the up-and-coming darling of the 2022 season, has seen the steepest roster quality dropoff over the off-season, while DSM, who was a top team as recently as 2020, is entering 2023 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 During Off-Season
1) UAE-Team Emirates: +1,941
2) Uno-X: +1,434
3) Team Jumbo-Visma: +1,304
4) EF Education - Nippo: +958
5) Soudal - Quick Step: +540
6) Alpecin-Deceuninck: +256
7) Arkéa Samsic: +214
8) Trek - Segafredo: +206
9) Team TotalEnergies: +117
10) Cofidis, Solutions Crédits: +73
11) Team Jayco AlUla: -8
12) Astana - Premier Tech: -101
13) BORA - Hansgrohe: -102
14) Movistar Team: -419
15) Groupama - FDJ: -528
16) Israel Start-Up Nation: -593
17) AG2R Citroën Team: -611
18) Team DSM: -915
19) Lotto-Dtsy: -934
20) Bahrain - Victorious: -1,301
21) INEOS Grenadiers: -2,229
22) Intermarché Wanty Gobert: -2,820
Five Key Takeaways:
1) UAE continues its quest of building a true superteam
For the second straight off-season, the team of two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar leads the sport in net PCS points added over the off-season.
This further shows us they are serious about pivoting away from their ‘one-man band’ setup that saw Pogačar forced to fend for himself in major races and for the rest of the team to struggle to make a consistent impression in events without Pogačar and into a true well-rounded superteam.
However, up until this point, while this aggressive acquisition strategy has netted the team a handful of talented young GC contenders like João Almeida and Juan Ayuso, it hasn’t converted into top-tier team-wide results.
For example, they have underperformed their BTP NET projected rankings versus their end-of-season PCS team rankings every year since 2020.
2021: 4th in BTP NET vs 5th in PCS
2022: 2nd in BTP NET vs 3rd in PCS
Additionally, even though they tied Jumbo-Visma for the most team wins in 2022 (48), Pogačar personally accounted for 33.3% of those wins while no Jumbo star accounted for more than 25% of their total wins.
It will be interesting to watch to see if their aggressive off-season strategy finally pays off in 2023 and sees them truly challenge Jumbo as the sport’s top team.
2) Jumbo looks unstoppable after strengthening an already-stacked roster
The sport’s top team, which is home to some of the most dominant riders in the sport with Jonas Vingegaard, Primož Roglič, and Wout van Aert, along with an impressive stable of versatile undercard talent with riders like Christophe Laporte and Tobias Foss (who won the World TT championships), get even stronger over the off-season with the acquisition of riders like Dylan van Baarle (winner of Paris-Roubaix in 2022) and Wilco Kelderman.
For the second straight off-season, they have a net inflow of over a thousand PCS points.
This is terrible news for any other team looking to win a major one-day race or grand tour in 2023.
The only potential issue facing Jumbo in 2023 is that all of their talent crowds the top of their rosters and causes issues when too many riders want leadership and a chance to race for themselves and not enough want to work for the others.
3) Ineos’ transfer season performance was dismal, but their young core gives them hope for a return to dominance
While it is clear that their performance has fallen off since Egan Bernals’ Tour de France win in 2019, it was shocking to see Ineos fighting with Intermarché for the title of the worst offseason in terms of PCS points gained/lost.
Their +2000 point deficit speaks to the loss of major stars like Richard Carapaz, Adam Yates, and Richie Porte without adding any top-tier talent.
The loss of PCS points by itself might not be enough to cause panic amongst the team’s financial backers, but the fact that they lack a single rider with a good chance of challenging for the 2023 Tour de France title will raise eyebrows, especially considering their sport-leading payroll
However, even with their exodus of established talent, the team still sits third in the 2023 projected BTP NET Rankings, which is a testament to the level of young talent still lurking on the squad.
4) Uno-X steps up in anticipation of their 2023 Tour de France appearance
The scrappy Norwegian second-division team produced a blockbuster transfer season where they picked up the veteran hometown rider, Alexander Kristoff, and netted as many PCS points as the sport’s top teams, in anticipation of their upcoming inaugural Tour de France appearance.
Despite being at a much lower sporting and financial level, Uno-X has outranked Astana in projected 2023 PCS points generated despite the Kazakhstani team’s recent signing of Mark Cavendish and Cees Bol.
This is no mean feat for a squad that was, until recently, a development squad for young Norwegian and Danish riders, and still has the second-lowest average age in the sport (24.6).
With this in mind, look out for them to outperform expectations at the 2023 Tour de France.
5) QuickStep goes all-in on Remco Evenepoel
After aggressively dumping PCS points, and more importantly, older/more expensive riders following the 2021 season, Patrick Lefevere’s team continued their ‘out with the old’ strategy this off-season by declining to re-sign the veteran sprinter Mark Cavendish.
However, they have slightly deviated from the ‘buy low, sell high’ ethos that has kept them in a strong financial position for so many years despite the lack of a top-tier budget by allowing the young and talented Danish rider Mikkel Frølich Honoré to leave and bringing on the 30-year-old Tim Merlier to replace Cavendish.
The major takeaway from the past few months is that the team has appeared to pivot away from the dominance of the one-day cobbled classics, which has been its trademark over the last two decades, and instead has decided to double-down on its 22-year-old superstar Remco Evenepoel.
This makes sense, especially considering that Evenepoel won the World Road Race title, a grand tour (Vuelta a España), and a one-day Monument (Liège-Bastogne-Liège) in 2022 and that they would need massive capital investments in their roster to keep up with Jumbo-Visma’s talent in the cobbled classics.
Something they need to consider is that going all-in on Evenepoel and his grand tour career will also take a massive investment, which is why it has been so surprising to see Lefevere eschew his bare-bones one-day strategy.
Perhaps an anticipated upcoming investment is the reason Lefevere was rumored to have told the double World Champion, Julian Alaphilippe, that he was free to leave the team (which would free up a significant amount of much-needed funds).
If you enjoyed this, I will be breaking down each BTP NET tier, what has gone into each team’s rating, and their 2023 prospects in the coming weeks (along with breaking down early-season races like the Tour Down Under) for premium subscribers…