The 2023 WorldTour and the first-class, business, economy squad split

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Men’s World Tour teams face three different tickets for their ride through the 2023 calendar.

The revolving doors of the off-season transfer market saw the gap between the Grand Tour teams widen further as the two powerhouses of the men’s pro peloton decisively split from the chasing pack.

First-class “hoys” from UAE Emirates and Jumbo-Visma flex their financial muscle against low-budget no-nonsense teams like the two recent Tour de France winners Quik-Step, Bora-Hansgrohe and even the rebooting powerhouse of Ineos Grenadiers.

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What does this, the rest of the winter’s transfer activity, and the shifting ambitions of the World Tour’s leading teams, mean come Grand Tour season?

First-class: Supersquad

Jonas Wingegaard and Tadez Pogacar are among their team’s potential Grand Tour winners.

United Arab Emirates, Jumbo-Visma

The United Arab Emirates have seen Adam Yates and Tim Wellens join Tadez Pogacar, Juan Ayuso and Joao Almeida this winter. Jumbo-Visma dropped Wilco Kelderman and Dylan van Berle as the headliners to join Jonas Vingegaard, Primož Roglič and Steven Kruijswijk.

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The arrival of even more talent this off-season means the two superpowers in the peloton have gotten so good that either of them could sweep the three-week race of the season.

From the snowy peaks and time trials of the Giro d’Italia to the sun and steep grades of the Vuelta a España, they have team captains, back benches and staff to crush the GC calendar.

Don’t be surprised to see Roglič, Vingegaard and “AN Other” win the Giro, Tour and Vuelta respectively for Jumbo-Visma this season. Almeida, Pogačar and maybe Ayuso could likewise take the treble for their Emirates side. And with any high-profile Grand Tour prize comes the potential for more high-profile signings in the future.

A self-sustaining system? Here’s hoping it’s not that way.

Business Class: One-Man Band, Podium-Chaser

Richard Karapaz, Jai Hindley and Mikael Landa are the sole GC focus for EF, Bora and Bahrain in 2023.

Soudal Quick-Step, Ineos Grenadiers, Bora Hansgrohe, Movistar, EF Education-EasyPost, Groupama-FDJ, Jayco-AlUla, Bahrain Victorious, Ag2r-Citroën, DSM

The WorldTour’s second Grand Tour tier packs squads that boast GC champions, consistent podium-finishers and future talent. But unlike UAE Emirates and Jumbo-Visma, neither of them boast the multiple options and domestic depth needed to crack the peloton’s biggest league.

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This winter saw Yates jump from Inos Grenadiers to UAE Emirates and Kelderman leave Bora-Hansgroh for Jumbo-Visma – two clear symbols of where all the riders want to be in 2023.

And with Egan Bernal unproven since his horrific accident, Bora-Hansgrohe and Ineos Grenadiers have Joy Hindley and Geraint Thomas as the only solid core of their team’s classification ambitions in 2023.

Riders like Thomas, Hindley, Remco Evenpoel, Richard Carapaz, Enric Mas, and Simon Yates could go bar-to-bar with Pogačar or Vingegaard on their best days. But without the same team depth of Hindley, Thomas, Evenpoel etc They could face a mountaintop finish fighting single handedly as they fend off multiple riders from two superteams.

And outside of one or maybe two select “A” three-weekers, the second tier of the Grand Tour will be left as spectators to the three-week race that shapes the season’s narrative and future bank balances.

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Economy-class: stage-hunter, isolated-disruptor

Louis Meintjes, Guillaume Martin, Giulio Ciccone sit on the fringes of the Grand Tour classification hunting the GC remnants and sniping for stages.

Alpecin Deceuninck, Astana Qazaqstan, Cofidis, Intermarché-Circus-Wanty, Arkéa Samsic, Trek-Segafredo

And the third Grand Tour of the World Tour? Specialist sprint teams, isolated bores, and squads unexpectedly move away from team captains.

Arkia-Samsik and the controversial departures of Nairo Quintana and Miguel Angel Lopez from Astana Kazakhstan respectively radically changed their squads. Short of marquee sprinters, the sudden loss of the GC leaders pushed Archea and Astana away from the center stage and jostling for stage wins and isolated airtime.

Elsewhere in Cat.3, riders like Guillaume Martin, Giulio Ciccone, and Louis Meintjes are good bets for a Grand Tour top-10. But their teams won’t count on those lower-class finishes to keep sponsors shelling out cash, and instead pin their hopes on placing the supporters’ logo on the podium winner’s frame.

None of the third-tier collectives have been big in the transfer market this winter and are instead turning to young unproven talent for the new year. Meanwhile, the Tour de France-topping rivals have thrown wealth at their already rich rosters.

And with that rising fortune, life in the lower leagues could be even tougher in 2023.

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