Spotlight on the 2022 UCI WorldTour peloton

The 12th edition of the UCI WorldTour begins this Sunday, February 20, with the UAE Tour (United Arab Emirates). This season, 18 teams from 12 countries and representing four continents will battle over the 33 events on the calendar.

For 2022 some team names are updated thanks to changes of sponsors. This includes the best team in the 2021 UCI World Ranking: Deceuninck – Quick-Step which becomes Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team for four seasons. The "Wolfpack" will be one of the main protagonists in the Classics this year again with Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Kasper Asgreen (DEN), Florian Sénéchal (FRA) or Fausto Masnada (ITA). Fabio Jakobsen (NED) and Mark Cavendish (GBR) will compete in the sprints in the absence of Sam Bennett (IRL), who has left for Bora-Hansgrohe, and Remco Evenepoel (BEL) is expected to lead the charge in stage races after the departure of Joao Almeida (POR) for UAE Team Emirates.

The Emirati squad, which already included the double winner of the Tour de France Tadej Pogačar (SLO), has strengthened considerably in the off-season. In addition to Almeida, Marc Soler (ESP) and George Bennett (NZL) have also been recruited to consolidate the close guard of the Slovenian champion. Pascal Ackermann (GER) and Alvaro Hodeg (COL) make up for the departure of sprinter Alexander Kristoff (NOR) to Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux.

The Norwegian, who has already opened his account in 2022 by winning the Clásica de Almería (Spain), occupies the spot vacated by Danny Van Poppel (NED), who was signed by Bora-Hansgrohe. The German team has also been particularly active during the off-season, compensating for the departures of Ackermann and Peter Sagan (SVK), signing up several climbers including Aleksandr Vlasov(RUS), who has already won the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (Spain) this year. He will be accompanied by Sergio Higuita (COL) and Jai Hindley (AUS).

Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo-Visma aim for the Tour de France

Last year, Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo-Visma each managed to win a Grand Tour and put a rider on the podium of the Tour de France. This year, these two teams share the same objective: to bring the yellow jersey back to the Champs-Elysées. With this in mind, the Dutch outfit have recruited Rohan Dennis (AUS) to serve leaders Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) and Primož Roglič (SLO). Christophe Laporte (FRA) and Tiesj Benoot (BEL) will join Wout van Aert (BEL) in the Classics.

As for the British team, they will have to do without injured Egan Bernal (COL) for several months, but they still have a strong squad with Geraint Thomas (GBR), Richard Carapaz (ECU) and Adam Yates (GBR). These stars will be joined by strong recruits including National Champions Luke Plapp (AUS) and Omar Fraile (ESP).

Bahrain Victorious to confirm

Team Bahrain Victorious impressed in 2021: 30 victories, including Paris-Roubaix (France) and successes in the three Grand Tours. For the teammates of Italy’s Sonny Colbrelli, the objective is clear: to repeat that performance in 2022. Despite the departure of Mark Padun (UKR), the squad has changed little and only Mikel Landa (ESP) will be keen to erase the bad memories of the past season. The main recruit is Luis Léon Sanchez (ESP), from the Astana-Premier Tech that has become Astana Qazaqstan Team for 2022.

Alexandre Vinokourov's team hit the transfer market hard by securing the services of Gianni Moscon (ITA) and bringing home two former members of the team: Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) and Miguel Angel Lopez (ESP). Their mission is simple: to emulate Jakob Fuglsang, winner of two Monuments under the Kazakh colours. The Dane followed the former Astana co-sponsor and now races for Israel-Premier Tech, the team of Chris Froome (GBR) and Giacomo Nizzolo (TA).

Duos to follow in 2022

While some of the best UCI WorldTour formations are structured around a host of high-performing leaders on different terrains, others have a two-headed leadership. This is the case both of Movistar Team, led by Enric Mas (ESP) and Alejandro Valverde (ESP), and Groupama-FDJ with Thibaut Pinot (FRA) and David Gaudu (FRA) at the helm in stage races. Marc Madiot's team will also count on Arnaud Démare (FRA) for the sprint finishes.

Italian rider Giulio Ciccone's Trek-Segafredo and the Australian Ben O'Connor's AG2R-Citröen Team are also equipped for the Grand Tours. But their first goals of the 2022 season will come from the Classics, each with duos cut out for the cobbles: Jasper Stuyven (BEL) and Mads Pedersen (DEN) for the American team, along with Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) and Oliver Naesen (BEL) for the French squad.

The Classics are also the likely hunting ground for Lotto Soudal, led by Caleb Ewan (AUS) and Florian Vermeersch (BEL), both of whom finished on the podium of a Monument last year.

The UCI WorldTour 2023 already in the sights

The 2022 season is of crucial importance. At the end of the year, the 18 best teams over the last three seasons combined, among those which apply, will form the 2023 UCI WorldTour peloton. While Cofidis, Lotto Soudal and Briton Simon Yates' Team BikeExchange-Jayco have already notched up victories at the beginning of the season, others will certainly join them soon, like Team DSM, organised around Romain Bardet (FRA) and Soren Kragh Andersen (DEN) in particular, who generally perform better later in the year. Let's also add to this list the EF Education-Easypost team of Colombian rider Rigoberto Uran (COL), without Sergio Higuita (COL), but within which the arrival of Mark Padun (UKR) has raised great interest.

All these teams will also be challenged by UCI ProTeams invited to show their talent in some of the biggest events in the world. Alpecin-Fenix (Mathieu Van der Poel, Tim Merlier and Jasper Philipsen) and Team Arkéa-Samsic (Nairo Quintana and Nacer Bouhanni) will even be able to compete in the entire UCI WorldTour calendar thanks to their results in 2021, as well as the TotalEnergies team (FRA), which will benefit from an invitation to all the UCI WorldTour one-day events in which Peter Sagan, the team's star recruit, will be keen to shine. And why not, integrate the series for good, by 2023?