UCI WorldTour 2021: Complete team-by-team guide to the men’s cycling season

Comprising 19 teams from 13 different countries and five continents, the UCI WorldTour is the highest division of professional road cycling.

Ahead of the new season that features 33 events ranging from one-day races through to the three-week grand tours — jewels in the crown of men’s cycling — Telegraph Sport casts its critical eyes over each squad.

How did they fare last year? Where will their wins most likely come from in 2021? What are the big transfers that have happened and which youngsters are we most excited about following throughout the year?

Featuring 33 events in 2021, ranging from one-day races through to the jewels in the crown of cycling — the three-week grand tours — the men’s season gets under way at the UAE Tour on February 21 and runs through to October with the season-ending Gree-Tour of Guangxi in China.

The Women’s WorldTour, meanwhile, features 20 events following a series of cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic. The top tier of women’s road racing that features nine teams, gets under way at Strade Bianche on March 6 and concludes in China on October 19.

Next race . . .

  • For full details of the men’s and women’s calendar scroll to the bottom.

Nationality​: France
UCI World Ranking 2020: 15th
General manager: Vincent Lavenu
Title sponsors: Personal insurance and French automobile manufacturer

Following the departure of Romain Bardet who had spent his entire career at the team, Ag2r-Citroën’s emphasis has shifted from targeting the general classification towards the classics and hunting for stages.

While much will be expected from big-name signing Greg Van Avermaet, success may well come from in-house. Benoît Cosnefroy enjoyed a long spell in the mountains jersey at last year’s Tour de France before taking podium places at La Flèche Wallonne, De Brabantse Pijl and Paris-Tours to underline what a talented and versatile rider the 25-year-old is.

The arrival of Bob Jungels, a former winner at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, will provide some much-needed firepower in the early spring classics and may even provide an option in the general classification. The capture of Ben O’Connor — who won a stage at last year’s Giro d’Italia — on a one-year deal appears an astute acquisition.

Best moment or victory of 2020

It was thin pickings for the French team in 2020: a solitary WorldTour win in the entire season when Nans Peters proved he was no one-hit wonder a year after winning from a breakaway at the Giro d’Italia. And what a follow up it was for the young Frenchman who, racing on home turf, dropped Ilnur Zakarin on the descent of the Peyresourde before soloing to the second win of his career during stage eight at the Tour.

Biggest transfer of the close season

Ag2r-Citroën may have added 11 names to their roster, but it will take some time for many to get used to Bardet, 30, no longer riding for the team. The departure to DSM may well give Bardet a much-needed new lease of life, while his former employers will be hoping for a similar boost.

Astana-Premier Tech

Nationality: Kazakhstan
UCI World Ranking 2020: Seventh
General manager: Alexandre Vinokourov
Title sponsors: Kazakh consortium and Canadian biotechnology company

Alexandre Vinokourov may end up rueing the loss of Miguel Ángel López, but one imagines the Kazakh will not have lost too much sleep during the close season given the remaining firepower he has at his disposal.

One of the big concerns for Astana, possibly, is the age of the creaking squad, with a number of the big-name riders all edging towards the latter parts of their careers: Omar Fraile (30), the Izagirre brothers (Ion, 31 and Gorka, 33) and Luis León Sánchez (37) are all in their thirties, as is Jakob Fuglsang (35) who last year won his second monument at Il Lombardia.

However, along with a number of youngsters that will bring some fresh blood into the squad, the 24-year-old Aleksandr Vlasov will be hoping to build on what turned into a frustrating season for the Russian. Impressive performances at La Route d’Occitanie and a victory at the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, along with some good results at the Italian classics, were tempered by the disappointment of having to abandon the Giro d’Italia. Bounced back at the Vuelta a España where he finished second on the Angliru stage, though, underlining why many have tipped him to become the first Astana rider since Fabio Aru in 2015 to win a grand tour.

Best moment or victory of 2020

In what turned out to be one of the most breathtaking Tours de France in living memory López, the rider that is nicknamed Superman in Colombia, left his rivals gasping for air on the vertiginous slopes of the col de la Loze. The 26-year-old may not have threatened the overall, but for one majestic afternoon he rode Primoz Roglic, Sepp Kuss and Tadej Pogacar off his wheel making all three look ordinary, which they are anything but.

Biggest transfer of the close season

Though far from being the team’s figurehead, the departure of López overshadows any of the incoming eight riders who are, broadly speaking, untried youngsters. “They were six wonderful years, I grew up and learned a lot with them,” said López following his transfer to Movistar.

Bahrain Victorious

Nationality: Bahrain
UCI World Ranking 2020: 13th
General manager: Brent Copeland
Title sponsor: Kingdom of Bahrain

Despite having lost team principal Rod Ellingworth, who returned to Ineos Grenadiers after just one season at the Bahraini squad, the future may not be as grim as some have predicted for Bahrain Victorious in 2021.

The arrival of Jack Haig should bolster Mikel Landa’s grand tour ambitions, while the 27-year-old may be keen on taking a leadership role in the shorter one-week races. It is elsewhere, though, where the wins may come from for the intriguingly renamed Bahrain Victorious squad.

Dylan Teuns, 28, has the power and climbing ability to cope on both the Belgian cobbles and Ardennes classics, while Heinrich Haussler (36) may also challenge in the spring classics. It is Fred Wright, though, that may be the team’s darkest horse. Working below the radar, away from the spotlight placed on Ineos riders, the Londoner impressed as the grand tour debutant finished fourth during a stage of last year’s Vuelta a España.

Best moment or victory of 2020

Jan Tratnik’s win at the Giro d’Italia came as a blessed relief for the team, it was a relief too for the Slovenian whose brother and girlfriend stood at the roadside near the finish line of stage 16 at San Daniele del Friuli. Tratnik rode a canny finale and dropped Ben O’Connor, who had earlier chased him down before the pair rode towards the finish together, on the last short and steep climb of the day to claim the biggest win of his career.

Biggest transfer of the close season

Signed on a three-year contract from Mitchelton-Scott — renamed BikeExchange for 2021 — Haig, in theory, is a very smart signing. The Australian diesel will a key cog in the stage-race engine room and may even land a big one for himself if he is given the freedom to roam.


Nationality: Australia
UCI World Ranking 2020: 11th
General manager: Shayne Bannan
Title sponsor: Australian cycling retailer

The headline for some may have been the transfer of Adam Yates who joined Ineos Grenadiers during the close season, but the Briton’s departure is far from being the only change within the Australian team.

Along with Adam Yates, Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious), Daryl Impey (Israel Start-up Nation) and Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) also headed out of the exit door while the veteran puncheur Michael Albasini retired. Coming in the other direction, Amund Grondahl Jansen arrived from Jumbo-Visma, Tanel Kangert comes in from EF Pro Cycling, Michael Matthew returns and the team signed 21-year old Italian Kevin Colleoni.

And so, what to expect in 2021? With 11 of their 27-man squad at or above the age of 30, the make-up of the team is starting to look very familiar and, quite possibly, a little tired. The likes of Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves, who despite the Colombian’s boyish smile is 31, need to deliver big one-day wins or launch a serious general classification challenge in the grand tours. On a more positive note, the 24-year-old Lucas Hamilton showed glimpses of promise last year, with a Tirreno-Adriatico stage win.

Best moment or victory of 2020

Back-to-back stage wins at Tirreno-Adriatico from Hamilton and Simon Yates were the highlights of what had been a disappointing season. A few days later, however, Yates won the general classification ahead of fellow Briton Geraint Thomas, making the Mitchelton-Scott rider one of the favourites for the Giro d’Italia. Unfortunately the Tirreno-Adriatico title in September was as good as it got for Yates and his team-mates.

Biggest transfer of the close season

Having spent four seasons at Sunweb, the return of Matthews should bring some much-needed steel in the punchy one-day classics, while the Australian can go stage hunting at the Tour. Hopefully can offer the team some belief after losing Adam Yates to Ineos Grenadiers over the winter. 


Nationality: Germany
UCI World Ranking 2020: Sixth
General manager: Ralph Denk
Title sponsors: Manufacturers of kitchen appliances & bathroom products

Just weeks out from the start of the season new signing Wilco Kelderman, a general classification rider who finished third at last year’s Giro d’Italia, and a group of team-mates were involved in a crash during a training camp near Lake Garda in northern Italy. It was the worst possible start for Kelderman; the worst start to the new year for Bora-Hansgrohe.

Just under two weeks after Kelderman was left concussed and having sustained a fractured vertebrae — while Rüdiger Selig and Andreas Schillinger were all taken to hospital — it was Peter Sagan’s turn to give his team a fright after he crashed while on a training camp on Gran Canaria. Things, one feels, can only get better for the luckless squad.

While much of the focus will be on an ageing Sagan, the squad has plenty of firepower upon which it can rely, including their tried and tested trio of German riders Pascal Ackermann, Emanuel Buchmann and Maximilian Schachmann. Able to challenge, respectively, in the pure sprints, the Ardennes-style climbs and the high mountains, this trident will ensure the team is challenging across all terrains once racing is under way.

Best moment or victory of 2020

Things did not look good for Sagan after he had finally loosened his vice-like grip on the green jersey at the Tour de France. With sharpened quills cycling’s obituary writers prepared themselves as he headed to his maiden Giro. In Italy the once imperious Sagan looked . . . normal. During stage 10, though, he launched an audacious attack from some distance out in the lashing rain to claim one of his greatest wins. Pure Saganissimo.

Biggest transfer of the close season

A runners-up place at Paris-Roubaix and fifth at Tour of Flanders in 2019 would suggest that Nils Politt may well be the heir apparent to Sagan who, despite his brilliant win at the Giro, is a fading force. Which may be why Bora-Hansgrohe handed the 26-year-old Politt a three-year contract.

Cofidis, Solutions Crédits

Nationality: France
UCI World Ranking 202020th
General manager: Cédric Vasseur
Title sponsor: Money-lending company

Following their return to the top tier of cycling, much was expected from Cofidis in 2020 following their high-profile signings of Italian sprinter Elia Viviani and French general classification contender Guillaume Martin. And then? Well, not much unfortunately. It was, in summary, a poor season for the French team whose wait for a stage win at the Tour de France was extended to 13 years having again fired blanks on home turf.

In the countdown to the new season, it was reported that Elia Viviani had undergone surgery having experienced heart palpitations while on a training ride. Despite the setback, he confirmed his race schedule would go ahead as planned. “My programme remains the same,” he said. “I’m calm and also determined to have the season of redemption that I need.”

It is not, however, all doom and gloom for Cofidis. Martin will be hoping to build on what was a promising season, while the squad has enough talent to pick off the odd win once the stage races get under way. May struggle in the one-day classics, although the addition of Luxembourg rider Jempy Drucker may go some way to help in that department.

Best moment or victory of 2020

While Attilio Viviani and Anthony Perez may claim their stage wins at La Tropicale Amissa Bongo and the Tour du Haut Var were highlights of the season, it was Martin’s performance during the opening week of the Tour that impressed most. Third on stage four at Orcières-Merlette behind Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar will have given the Frenchman plenty to mull over during the winter, and plenty to build on throughout 2021.

Biggest transfer of the close season

Although he has just three wins on his palmarès, veteran German Simon Geschke brings with him a wealth of experience. Though unlikely to add any money into Cofidis’ prize pot, the 34-year-old will be a reliable domestique for leader Martin and is a more-than-capable road captain.

Deceuninck-Quick Step

Nationality: Belgium
UCI World Ranking 2020: Second
General manager: Patrick Lefevere
Title sponsors: Producer of windows & laminate flooring manufacturers

Despite having held the maillot jaune for three days at the Tour de France before a jolly green Irishman won the final stage on the Champs-Élysées, some within the team may have considered 2020 a disappointment. Even including the rainbow jersey won in Imola and their Portuguese carrying the maglia rosa on his young shoulders for 15 days at the Giro d’Italia.

While losing their position as the world No 1-ranked team — a title the team held for two years straight before Jumbo-Visma toppled them — Deceuninck-Quick Step also failed to win a single monument. Though not unheard of, these races are the bread and butter of the Belgian team.

Though packed with talent, will be fascinating to see how they cope with the likes of Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert in the cobbled classics, the races where the Belgian team is expected to perform by both sponsors and its passionate fanbase in Flanders. In Julian Alaphilippe will be eyeing success in the Ardennes and stage two at the Tour, and praying Remco Evenepoel can return to action following his long-term lay-off and finally get his grand tour career under way at the Giro. Will be interesting to see how the team manage Joao Almeida who was, arguably, the breakthrough rider of 2020 after leading the Giro for two weeks.

Best moment or victory of 2020

Going into the Giro few were familiar with Almeida. Three weeks later the 22-year-old was being talked of as a potential grand tour winner. Despite the successes of Evenepoel who won all four stage races he started, it was the way in which Almeida and his team-mates defended the maglia rosa that impressed most. Honourable mention goes to young Briton James Knox who worked tirelessly for his team-mate’s cause.

Biggest transfer of the close season

His best days may well be behind him, but ​Mark Cavendish’s return to Deceuninck-Quick Step is a fascinating move from the wily old operator Patrick Lefevere. Whether he wins races, or most likely does not, it will be interesting to see what role Cavendish plays for the team. 


Nationality: Germany
UCI World Ranking 2020: Fifth
General manager: Iwan Spekenbrink
Title sponsor: Dutch multinational

In terms of race wins — 16 at Continental and WorldTour level through nine different riders — 2020 was the best year the team had had since 2017 (18) which, given the truncated nature of the season, was impressive.

It was the nature of those wins, though, that stood out most. Whether eyeing an early-season win at Paris-Nice, a stage at the Tour de France or a solo sortie in the Ardennes, the team’s sporting directors had it covered. Technically and tactically the squad were practically faultless. Even at the Giro d’Italia where there was a slight wobble, 24-year-old Jai Hindley won the spectacular stage that traversed the Stelvio Pass before finishing second overall; his now former team-mate Wilco Kelderman third.

The departure of Marc Hirschi in the new year may have cast a shadow over DSM’s preparations for the season, but the arrival of Romain Bardet is a fascinating transfer. Whether or not the Frenchman is deployed as a general classification contender, a stage hunter in the big races or the hilly one-day classics remains to be seen, but one can only assume the brains behind one of the most exciting teams of the last year have a plan. 

Best moment or victory of 2020

With impressive wins from Tiesj Benoot, Hindley, Hirschi, Soren Kragh Andersen it is a difficult one: take your pick. However, Kragh Andersen’s first stage at the Tour was certainly the most entertaining. In another tactical masterclass from the team, Benoot attacked off the front before Hirschi went, followed by the Dane Kragh Andersen who soloed across the line to bring home the bacon with the biggest win of his career.

Biggest transfer of the close season

Hirschi​’s departure from DSM on January 5 took almost everybody by surprise. Following his stellar breakthrough season in 2020 it was assumed the team would build around him. The young Swiss, though, had other plans and four days later joined UAE Team Emirates. Ouch.

EF Education-Nippo

Nationality: US
UCI World Ranking 2020: 10th
General manager: Jonathan Vaughters
Title sponsors: Education company and Japanese construction company

Enjoyed their best season since 2014, won stages in all three grand tours — with six different riders — and confused many in the conservative world of cycling by linking up with a well-known fashion brand to produce a one-off kit, with ducks on. All-in-all, a successful season then.

Following a tricky few years, Jonathan Vaughters’ squad has quietly and efficiently become a well-rounded and balanced outfit, able to challenge for stages and the classics. While the departures of Daniel Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers), Michael Woods and Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-up Nation) and Simon Clarke (Qhubeka-Assos) will certainly weaken them, the core of the squad appears strong enough to challenge throughout the season.

In theory, lost more firepower than they brought in during the close season, but Hugh Carthy should bring the team further joy throughout 2021, while it will be interesting to monitor the ongoing development of promising young American climber Neilson Powless. While Ruben Guerreiro and Sergio Higuita can help in the mountains, Alberto Bettiol and Michael Valgren will spearhead the spring classics campaign.

Best moment or victory of 2020

Along with Italian climbs the Mortirolo Pass and Monte Zoncolan, the Alto de l’Angliru in Asturias in northern Spain is considered one of the toughest ascents in world cycling. And so when Carthy won stage 12 at the Vuelta a España on this mythical climb the entire world took notice. The manner in which the 193cm tall Prestonian dropped some of the best climbers in the race was as impressive as it was breathtaking.

Biggest transfer of the close season

EF Education-Nippo will be hoping that new signing Valgren can rediscover his 2018 form. However, making his team debut at Étoile de Bessèges the Dane suffered a huge setback following a crash in which he sustained fractures to the second and third metacarpals in his left hand.


Nationality: France
UCI World Ranking 2020: Ninth
General manager: Marc Madiot
Title sponsor: French national lottery

Take away the wins from sprinter Arnaud Démare and Stefan Küng and Kevin Geniets’ national titles and Groupama-FDJ were left with just three wins in 2020, the opening stage at Étoile de Bessèges for Alexys Brunel and a pair for young climber David Gaudu at the Vuelta a España.

Given the team is essentially a state-sponsored vehicle to advertise the French national lottery — run by individuals that think and act as civil servants, according to French journalist François Thomazeau — it is unlikely Marc Madiot is under pressure to deliver better results in 2021, though most observers will be hoping he can. It is safe to say that last year’s Tour de France was an unmitigated disaster after the team’s main general classification hope Thibaut Pinot crashed on stage one, while his No 2 Gaudu was anonymous having arrived off the back of an illness.

With a largely unchanged squad, Madiot will be hoping that Pinot can challenge in either the Tour, or if reports are to be believed, the Giro d’Italia while Démare will, surely, make his return to the Grande Boucle. Démare may also be targeting the spring classics, along with Swiss time-trial specialist Küng who managed top-10 finishes last year at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Ghent-Wevelgem and Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne.

Best moment or victory of 2020

Having been omitted from the Tour squad, Démare went on to win four stages at the Giro along with the points jersey. It was his victory on stage six, though, that stood head and shoulders above the rest. On an uphill drag that favoured the likes of Michael Matthews or Peter Sagan, Démare went from some distance out to take the stage and underline why many argued he was the best all-round sprinter of 2020.

Biggest transfer of the close season

Only time will tell if allowing the talented Frenchman Marc Sarreau to join Ag2r-Citroën was a mistake or not. However, having cut short his season following his involvement in the crash that did for fellow sprinter Fabio Jakobsen at last year’s Tour of Poland, his condition is unknown.

Ineos Grenadiers

Nationality: Great Britain
UCI World Ranking 2020: Fourth
General manager: Sir Dave Brailsford
Title sponsor: Multinational chemicals company

It was a peculiar year for the British team, but one which saw Ineos Grenadiers earn some new fans after adopting a new-look brand racing. Admittedly, their swashbuckling style was largely enforced on them after team leaders Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas prematurely departed the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia respectively, but it was nonetheless a welcome approach from a team long associated with metronomic racing.

Having strengthened with Laurens De Plus, Daniel Martínez, Richie Porte and Adam Yates, Ineos Grenadiers would appear more than prepared for the challenge laid down by Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates at last year’s Tour de France. The addition of British neo-pro Tom Pidcock, meanwhile, should give the squad the option to liven things up in the early season one-day races, while another young Briton Ethan Hayter appears on course to make a name for himself in the classics.

It will be interesting to see how the team management approach the new season: do they continue in the same vein as 2020, or revert to type? Whatever is decided, in Thomas, Bernal, Richard Carapaz and Geoghegan Hart — their four former grand tour winners — they have the firepower to contest the biggest stage races, and enough talent across to board to challenge in the Ardennes classics. Chris Froome may have left, but the team’s conveyor belt of talent is showing no sign of coming to a halt.

Best moment or victory of 2020

Having arrived at the Giro d’Italia as domestique for team-mate Geraint Thomas, Geoghegan Hart was installed as a 225-1 outsider to win his first grand tour when the Welshman crashed out just three days into the race. Two stage wins and a maglia rosa — that he sealed on the final day — later and the Londoner joined the sport’s immortals. It was one of the feelgood stories of not only the cycling season, but of the sporting year too.

Biggest transfer of the close season

The capture of Pidcock is a massive coup for Ineos Grenadiers. Not only is he one of the most promising talents in the world right now, but also one of the most versatile and exciting riders of a generation. Targeting the Ardennes and hopes to makes his grand tour debut at the Vuelta a España.

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux

Nationality: Belgium
UCI World Ranking 2020: 20th
General manager: Jean-François Bourlart
Title sponsors: Belgian food retailer and engineering companies

The newest kids on the WorldTour block, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, acquired their top-tier status having taken the licence from the now defunct CCC squad. They are also, on paper, one of the weakest.

Despite having signed the vastly experienced Rein Taaramae (33), Jan Hirt (30), and Louis Meintjes (28), may struggle at making any sort of impact in the top level. However, will be hoping to challenge for stages and getting into breakaways during the Tour de France, and may even pick up the occasional win at the lower Continental level.

Of the further additions — Jonas Koch, Baptiste Planckaert, Lorenzo Rota, Taco van der Hoorn, Riccardo Minali and Georg Zimmermann — it is the Dutchman Van der Hoorn that catches the eye most. The former Jumbo-Visma rider may have a short palmarès with just the lesser known Schaal Sels one-day race on his list of wins, alongside the Primus Classic and a BinckBank Tour stage, but may be a source of victories for his new team.

Best moment or victory of 2020

Taking just four wins in 2020, none of which were at WorldTour level, was not exactly inspiring stuff for the team. In fact, the biggest victory came from Xandro Meurisse who won a stage at the Vuelta a Murcia before he clinched the overall in the two-day race. Sadly, the Belgian all-rounder joined Alpecin-Fenix over the winter and so will not be repeating similar performances for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux in 2021.

Biggest transfer of the close season

Meintjes may have struggled since finishing eighth at the 2017 Tour, but the 28-year-old has an opportunity here to save his floundering career. Equally, having signed the South African climber on a one-year deal the team may have landed themselves an absolute steal.

Israel Start-up Nation

Nationality: Israel
UCI World Ranking 2020: 22nd
General manager: Kjell Carlstrom
Title sponsor: Tel Aviv-based non-profit organisation

Having finished bottom of the WorldTour pile in 2020, one imagines that when Israel Start-up Nation owner Sylvan Adams delivered his end-of-year report, the Canadian billionaire property developer will have insisted that in 2021, his riders and support staff ‘must do better’.

The capture of seven-time grand tour winner Chris Froome from Ineos Grenadiers that sparked a massive recruitment drive took the headlines, but the pressure will be on the 35-year-old who has not won a race since May 2018 to deliver the goods. The overall strengthening of the squad, however, should enable the team to make the required improvements.

The arrivals of Sebastian Berwick, Patrick Bevin, Alessandro De Marchi, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Daryl Impey, Taj Jones, Sep Vanmarcke and Michael Woods will both offer support to Froome, while simultaneously add to the team’s collective palmarès. A highly creditable eighth place at the 2019 Vuelta a España — between Wilco Kelderman and Marc Soler — highlights why Fredrik Hagen was wanted to help Froome in the mountains, while De Marchi (rouleur), Impey (baroudeur), and Woods (puncheur) have all proved themselves at the highest level.

Best moment or victory of 2020

Out of contract at the end of the season and expecting his first child, Alex Dowsett managed to get into the breakaway during stage eight at the Giro d’Italia. For some that may have been enough. Not Dowsett, not on this day. Having worked with team-mate Matthias Brändle, Dowsett escaped around 20km from the line before using his time trial skills to perfection and claim an emotional win for both rider and fans watching at home.

Biggest transfer of the close season

He is the big-budget signing around which the team’s Tour ambitions have been built, but can Froome buck the trend for youngsters winning and take home a record-equalling fifth maillot jaune? Whatever happens, following the Froome roadshow should be utterly engrossing.


Nationality: Holland
UCI World Ranking 2020: First
General manager: Richard Plugge
Title sponsors: Business software provider and supermarket chain

In 2015 the Dutch team won just two WorldTour races — stages at the Eneco Tour and Vuelta a España. Five years later two monuments (Milan-Sanremo and Liège-Bastogne-Liège), a grand tour (Vuelta a España) and three stages at the Tour de France resulted in them becoming the No 1 ranked team in men’s road cycling. It has been quite the transformation.

May have lost a few domestiques, but the arrivals of Edoardo Affini, Sam Oomen, Nathan Van Hooydonck should provide ample replacement. Are widely expected to be challenging for the Tour de France again following a heartbreaking denouement to last year’s race when leader Primoz Roglic lost his yellow jersey to Tadej Pogacar on the penultimate day.

Are fully expected, too, to be targeting the cobbled classics with Wout van Aert poised to resume hostilities with his cyclo-cross nemesis Mathieu van der Poel in what is turning into one of the great rivalries of the sport. Elsewhere, will be fascinating to follow the development of Tobias Foss, the 2019 Tour de l’Avenir winner, and track the trajectory of Sepp Kuss, the increasingly impressive mountain domestique.

Best moment or victory of 2020

A fortnight after enduring the crushing disappointment of losing the leader’s yellow jersey at the Tour, Roglic bounced back in the best way imaginable. Having looked poised to yet again miss out, Roglic pounced at the last to deny an already celebrating Julian Alaphilippe — who was later relegated — to claim a dramatic maiden monument at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in what was one of the best one-day races of the year. 

Biggest transfer of the close season

Although not strictly speaking a transfer, when Tom Dumoulin walked out of the team’s pre-season training camp in need of a break it very much felt like the end of the road for the 30-year-old. If the Dutchman does not return to action his absence will come as a heavy blow to Jumbo-Visma.


Nationality: Belgium
UCI World Ranking 2020: 17th
General manager: John Lelangue
Title sponsors: Belgian national lottery and adhesives manufacturer

Bolstered largely by Caleb Ewan’s wins — the sprinter won two Tour de France stages, following two at the Tour Down Under and one apiece at the UAE Tour and the Tour de Wallonie before taking a magnificent seventh of the season at Scheldeprijs — only Matthew Holmes and Tim Wellens managed to take home any WorldTour wins in 2020.

Whether or not it was fuelled by suffering their worst season in a decade, or not, an influx of young riders — all but one (Kamil Malecki, 25) are either 23 or under — gives the team a very new feel for 2021. It may also lead to them challenging for fewer races too, at least in the short-term.

May need some of the older heads like Philippe Gilbert and John Degenkolb to step up during the spring classics, while Tim Wellens’ form at Etoile de Bessèges, where he won a stage and the overall, would suggest the Belgian is in fine form in the countdown to the WorldTour.

Best moment or victory of 2020

Although there were two stage wins at the Tour for Ewan along with two for Wellens at the Vuelta a España, it was an early-season victory from Holmes that stood out most. The Briton, competing in his first WorldTour race after joining from Madison-Genesis, did the improbable and ended Richie Porte’s six-year reign on the Willunga Hill stage at the Tour Down Under. Holmes later impressed in breakaways at the Giro d’Italia.

Biggest transfer of the close season

Having made wholesale changes, including bringing in five riders from their under-23 squad, the departure of Carl Fredrik Hagen to Israel Start-up Nation will likely cost them in the hillier stages. Appears, though, that Lotto-Soudal’s plans are focused very much on the long-term.


Nationality: Spain
UCI World Ranking 2020: 18th
General manager: Eusebio Unzué
Title sponsor: Spanish mobile telephone company

Given they lost Richard Carapaz, Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana going into the year, and signed no fewer than 14 riders, last season was always going to be one of transition. Nobody, however, will have predicted that the oldest team in the WorldTour would have endured the worst year in their long and illustrious history since first forming as Reynolds in 1980.

It is safe to say that for Movistar in 2021, things can only get better. While the once reliable Alejando Valverde, who at 40 is the oldest rider in the WorldTour, is starting to look his age, big things will be expected from Marc Soler. Enric Mas, meanwhile, will be hoping to build on his quietly impressive performances at last year’s tours of France and Spain where he finished fifth, despite barely poking his nose into the wind. Big things, too, are expected from marquee signing Miguel Ángel López who arrives from Astana and will, presumably, form part of the team’s two-pronged attack at the Tour de France alongside his new team-mate Mas.

Although not widely heralded, the captures of Iván García Cortina and Gregor Mühlberger should give the squad an outlet in the spring classics, while also providing a couple of proven engines in the grand tours. Gonzalo Serrano arrives from Caja Rural-Seguros RGA while Abner González became the first Puerto Rican to ride in the WorldTour.

Best moment or victory of 2020

It was an uncharacteristically poor season for Movistar who managed just two wins in the entire season, both coming from Soler. Having first won a stage at the Mallorca Challenge in February, the Spaniard landed a superb stage at the Vuelta a España after attacking on the descent off the final climb on stage two before soloing to victory. It came as a huge relief for the team, with the added bonus of the win being on their home roads.

Biggest transfer of the close season

A year after a very public dispute at the Vuelta, ​Ángel López has joined the team he said was full of “stupid people”. One imagines the pre-season training camp will have been interesting. Either way, Movistar have acquired a talented climber and proven stage winner.


Nationality: South Africa
UCI World Ranking 2020: 21st
General manager: Doug Ryder
Title sponsors: South African charity and Swiss cycling apparel

Having lost their title sponsor late in 2020, Doug Ryder’s squad was handed a reprieve from Swiss apparel brand Assos who already supplied the team with their kit. Though welcome, the deal came through too late to halt a mass exodus with the squad losing 15 riders to other teams while four retired. Coming in the other direction were 17 riders of varying experience from the under-23, Continental and WorldTour divisions.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the team, kept hold of world hour record holder Victor Campenaerts, while the veteran climber Domenico Pozzovivo, now 38, has one year left on his contract. Giacomo Nizzolo will be hoping to regain the form he had before crashing out of last year’s Tour de France just days after winning the European road title in Plouay.

May rue the departure of Ben O’Connor to Ag2r-Citroën, but will be hoping the experience of new signings like Simon Clarke and Sergio Henao can help guide their new-look squad in the right direction.

Best moment or victory of 2020

While there were some impressive wins for Italian sprinter Nizzolo, it was O’Connor’s stage victory at the Giro that towered above the rest. A day after losing out to Jan Tratnik, the Australian who was out of contract at the end of the season, bounced back in the best possible way to land the biggest win of his career. Possibly a big mistake in not re-signing him.

Biggest transfer of the close season

He may not have claimed a single race since the 2017 Tour when he won on La Planche des Belles Filles, but Fabio Aru may just be able to rebuild his career with Qhubeka-Assos. The 30-year-old has one year in which to do so as he enters what many are calling the last-chance saloon.


Nationality: US
UCI World Ranking 2020: Eighth
General manager: Luca Guercilena
Title sponsors: US bicycle manufacturer and Italian coffee brand

It was a mixed season for the team whose main general classification rider Vincenzo Nibali looked his age (36) at the Giro d’Italia, while another, Bauke Mollema, crashed out of the Tour de France with a broken wrist. It was not all doom and gloom, however. Richie Porte finished third at the Tour — the best result of his career — and world champion Mads Pedersen managed to show off the rainbow stripes in Paris.

The early-season win from Jasper Stuyven at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was hugely impressive, while wins from Pedersen at the Tour of Poland, BinckBank Tour and Ghent-Wevelgem along with the return to the fold of Quinn Simmons — who was suspended after the 2019  junior world champion posted “divisive” and “incendiary” tweets — would suggest that it is the one-day classics where the squad’s strengths may lie in 2021. Though not in the WorldTour, Matteo Moschetti twice got the better of Pascal Ackermann with wins at the Mallorca Challenge, leading to many saying the 24-year-old can challenge in the big sprints.

Very quiet in the transfer market, signing just Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier from the WorldTour while three under-23 riders —  Jakob Egholm, Mattias Skjelmose Jensen, Antonio Tiberi — also joined the squad.

Best moment or victory of 2020

Having book-ended his maiden Tour with two second place finishes, Pedersen did what few had predicted and got the better of Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert at Ghent-Wevelgem. Benefiting from the pair’s refusal to commit in the finale, the young Dane proved yet again he was both a supremely talented and canny rider as he won his first semi-classic after outsprinting Florian Sénéchal and Matteo Trentin to the line.

Biggest transfer of the close season

Having finally made the podium at a grand tour at last year’s Tour, the 36-year-old Richie Porte will ride for his former paymasters Ineos Grenadiers in 2021. The departure of the solid professional — though not a seasoned winner in the big races — may be a big loss in the grand tours.

UAE Team Emirates

Nationality: UAE
UCI World Ranking 2020: Third
General manager: José Antonio Fernández
Title sponsors: Emirates

The Emirati-owned squad with the Italian heart enjoyed its greatest season yet in terms of both number of wins and, perhaps more importantly, the quality of wins. Stages in all three grand tours, along with the biggest prize of them all — the fabled yellow jersey for winning the Tour de France — propelled the squad into whole new stratosphere. Along with Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo-Visma, UAE Team Emirates are now expected to challenge for the biggest honours in world cycling.

The arrival of Rafal Majka should give Tadej Pogacar more support when he needs it most — the young Slovenian cannot expect to defend his Tour title without having to do some of the heavy lifting in 2021 — while Matteo Trentin will bring some much-needed experience. The surprise signing of Marc Hirschi, meanwhile, will both take the pressure off Pogacar while also, on paper, assuring his new paymasters some big wins.

Was a big surprise to see young Belgian sprinter Jasper Philipsen leave for Alpecin-Fenix, but armed with Fernando Gaviria and the evergreen Alexander Kristoff should have enough to challenge in the sprints and one-day classics. Another one to watch will be Brandon McNulty, 22, who finished 15th on his grand tour debut at last year’s Giro d’Italia.

Best moment or victory of 2020

Pogacar’s performance in the penultimate day time trial of the Tour was one of the most astonishing days in the history of the world’s biggest bike race. For Pogacar, his performance was career-defining; for his rival and compatriot Primoz Roglic heartbreaking. A day after winning on La Planche des Belles Filles, Pogacar became the second youngest winner in the Tour’s history dating back to 1903. Put simply: it was unbelievable.

Biggest transfer of the close season

Hirschi’s arrival from Sunweb was not only the biggest transfer of UAE Team Emirates’ close season, but of the entire WorldTour also. Indeed, it was reported by L’Equipe that his new employers multiplied his salary by 14 — from around €70,000 to €1 million. But can he deliver? Probably.

Cycling calendar: — men’s and women’s WorldTour races


21-27: UAE Tour (United Arab Emirates)
27: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (men and women, Belgium).


6: Strade Bianche (men and women, Italy).
7-14: Paris-Nice (France).
15: Ronde van Drenthe (women, Holland) — postponed.
10-16: Tirreno-Adriatico (Italy).
20: Milan-Sanremo (Italy).
21: Trofeo Alfredo Binda (women, Italy).
25: Three Days of De Panne (men and women, Belgium).
26: E3 Saxo Bank Classic (Belgium).
22-28: Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (Spain).
28: Ghent-Wevelgem (men and women, Belgium).
31: Dwars door Vlaanderen (Belgium).


4: Tour of Flanders (men and women, Belgium).
5-10: Tour of the Basque Country (Spain).
11: Paris-Roubaix (men and women, France).
18: Amstel Gold Race (men and women, Holland).
21: Flèche Wallonne (men and women, Belgium).
25: Liège-Bastogne-Liège (men and women, Belgium).
27-May 2: Tour de Romandie (Switzerland).


1: Eschborn-Frankfurt (Germany).
6-8: Tour of Chongming Island (women, China).
8-30: Giro d’Italia (Italy).
20-23: Vuelta a Burgos Feminas (women, Spain).
30-June 6: Critérium du Dauphiné (France).


6-13: Tour de Suisse (Switzerland).
7-12: Women’s Tour (UK) — postponed
26-July 18: Tour de France (France).
27: La Course by Le Tour de France (women, France).


31: Clásica San Sebastián (Spain).


7: Vargarda team time trial (women, Sweden).
8: Vargarda road race (women, Sweden).
9-15: Tour of Poland (Poland).
12-15: Tour of Norway (women).
14-Sept 5: Vuelta a España (Spain).
22: EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg (Germany).
24-28: Boels Ladies Tour (Holland).
29: Bretagne Classic-Ouest-France (France).
30-Sept 5: Binck Bank Tour (Belgium & Holland).
30: GP Plouay-Lorient Agglomération Trophée WNT (women, France).


3-5: Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta (women, Spain).
10: Grand Prix de Québec (Canada).
12: Grand Prix de Montréal (Canada).


4-9: Women’s Tour (UK) — provisional dates
9: Il Lombardia (Italy).
14-19: Gree-Tour of Guangxi (China).
19: Tour of Guangxi (women, China).

  • This article was originally published on February 10, 2021.
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