UCI WorldTour 2022: Men's team-by-team guide to the season, full calendar and results

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UCI WorldTour 2022 Men's team-by-team guide, calendar details and results for the season
UCI WorldTour 2022 Men's team-by-team guide, calendar details and results for the season

The WorldTour, the top tier of professional men's road cycling, comprises 18 teams from 12 different countries and five continents.

With three grand tours up for grabs – Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España, each featuring 21 stages – five monuments – Milan-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia – there is plenty to race for throughout the season for both teams and riders. In addition, there are 11 week-long stage races and 14 one-day races of varying historical importance.

Following the cancellations of the Tour Down Under and the one-day Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, this year's WorldTour gets under way on February 20 with the fourth edition of the UAE Tour.

Comprising a total of 31 events from one-day races through to the three-week grand tours – jewels in the crown of men's cycling – the WorldTour is contested across three continents, culminating in Italy on October 8 at Il Lombardia.

Latest races . . .

Full details of 2022 WorldTour

*ITT – individual time trial.
*TTT – team time trial.

Team-by-team guide to the WorldTour season

Ag2r-Citroën

Nationality​: France
General manager: Vincent Lavenu
Title sponsors: Personal insurance and French automobile manufacturer

The French squad that was founded by Vincent Lavenu may be celebrating its third decade in the top tier of professional cycling in 2022, but the Massif Central-based team has yet to take home a winners' jersey from any of the three grand tours. Under its various guises – including Chazal, Petit Casino, Casino-Ag2r Prévoyance, Ag2r Prévoyance and Ag2r-La Mondiale – Ag2r-Citroën have, however, amassed 20 stages in their home race, the Tour de France, between 1998 (Jacky Durand) and 2021 (Ben O'Connor). Alongside Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ, they are one of three French WorldTour teams.

Best moment or victory of 2021

Clément Champoussin's stage win at the Vuelta may have come on one of the most enthralling days of the season – in grand tour racing, at least – but it was Ben O'Connor's victory at the Tour that made most take notice. The Australian outlier claimed one of the toughest stages with an audacious attack that saw him gain nine minutes on the road to Tignes, before eventually crossing the line 6min 2sec ahead of race leader Tadej Pogacar. O'Connor eventually finished fourth on general classification, his stage win laying the foundation on which he will hope to build in 2022.

Biggest transfer of the close season

Felix Gall, who beat the likes of Marc Hirschi and Gino Mäder en route to winning the junior world road race title in Richmond in 2015, appears to be the strongest of the new arrivals at the French squad. The Austrian may have little impact in 2022, but following three retirees and the departures of François Bidard (Cofidis), Tony Gallopin (Trek-Segafredo) and Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels-KTM), the 23-year-old may get opportunities sooner than he might think.

Astana Qazaqstan

Nationality: Kazakhstan
General manager: Alexandre Vinokourov
Title sponsors: Kazakh consortium

Having survived 15 years of scandal and internal power struggles one would assume nothing could derail Astana Qazaqstan's preparations. However, the team that has won all three grand tours with four different riders (Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali) as well as three editions of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, goes into the season under a cloud of political and financial uncertainty. The team's future may rest as heavily on the shoulders of the leaders of the state-sponsored team's government as its general manager Vinokourov and new signings, including the returning Nibali and Miguel Ángel López along with Gianni Moscon.

Best moments or victories of 2021

When Alex Aranburu pounced to land the second stage of Itzulia Basque Country in April ahead of team-mate and fellow Basque Omar Fraile, few will have predicted these would have been the highlights of the season for the team. A further stage win from another regional favourite Ion Izagirre further bolstered their belief, but just one more win – an individual time trial at Paris-Nice for Alexey Lutsenko – followed. It was a disappointing season for the team that included the now departed two-time monument winner Jakob Fuglsang and general classification hope Aleksandr Vlasov.

Biggest transfer of the close season

The returns of headline acts López and Nibali may be the signings the team need to get their mojo back, but it is the arrival of Italian bad boy Moscon that may be their most inspired acquisition. Despite having yet to win a WorldTour race on European soil, Moscon clearly has what it takes to land a race like Paris-Roubaix – which he may have won were it not for a stroke of mechanical misfortune during last year's wet and muddy edition.

Bahrain Victorious

Nationality: Bahrain
General manager: Brent Copeland
Title sponsor: Kingdom of Bahrain

Having last year added the suffix 'Victorious' to its name following the departure of co-sponsor McLaren, the team was subjected to a few below-the-belt digs from columnists and podcasters alike. It was the first team from the Middle East to compete at WorldTour level, however, who had the last laugh. Stage wins in all three grand tours, including runner-up spot for Damiano Caruso at the Giro d'Italia and third at the Vuelta a España for Jack Haig preceded the squad's maiden monument for Sonny Colbrelli at Paris-Roubaix.

Best moments or victories of 2021

With a myriad of wins over all terrains it is an almighty hard one to call, but in the end it is difficult to see beyond Caruso's penultimate-day stage win at the Giro and his compatriot Colbrelli's victory at Paris-Roubaix. The then 33-year-old Caruso won his first WorldTour race with a brave escape ahead of Egan Bernal, a result that ultimately sealed second on general classification for the Italian gregario. Colbrelli, meanwhile, rode a canny race before outsmarting Florian Vermeersch and Mathieu van der Poel to claim top spot – and all in his debut outing – at the 'Queen of the Classics'.

Biggest transfers of the close season

The arrivals of promising youngsters Filip Maciejuk (22), Alejandro Osorio (23), Edoardo Zambanini (20), along with Under-23 world time trial champion Johan Price-Pejtersen (22), is balanced out by the additions of Jasha Sütterlin (29) and Luis León Sánchez (39) to the squad. Sütterlin can expect to be deployed in the spring classics, while Sánchez will bring almost two decades of experience to a squad still in search of its maiden grand tour victory.

BikeExchange-Jayco

Nationality: Australia
General manager: Shayne Bannan
Title sponsor: Australian cycling retailer

Launched in 2012, the Australian squad has won four of cycling’s five monuments – Milan-Sanremo (Simon Gerrans, 2014), Liège-Bastogne-Liège (Gerrans, 2014), Paris-Roubaix (Mathew Hayman, 2016) and Il Lombardia (Esteban Chaves, 2016) – and one grand tour – Vuelta a España (Simon Yates, 2018). The squad, however, appears to have lost some of its direction in recent years and goes into the 2022 season with just three WorldTour teams – Movistar, Israel-Premier Tech and Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux – with fewer UCI points. Face a very real need for race wins and, potentially more important for its long-term survival, UCI points.

Best moment or victory of 2021

In what was a largely disappointing season for BikeExchange, Simon Yates's stage victory at the Giro represented the highlight of the year for the team that claimed just two WorldTour wins (Esteban Chaves at the Volta a Catalunya being the other). Having arrived hoping to challenge for the general classification, the Briton in the end had to settle for third behind Egan Bernal and Damiano Caruso, but was able to raise his arms in celebration atop Alpe di Mera on stage 19. Although Yates ultimately failed to crack the resolute Bernal in the final two days, his mountain-top win all but sealed third spot.

Biggest transfer of the close season

In the absence of a world-class sprinter, the capture of Dylan Groenewegen was an astute signing – arguably the best of the close season. Although 2021 was largely a year of rediscovery for the Dutchman following his return from suspension, Groenewegen managed to land three UCI races. Groenewegen should give his team some WorldTour wins, while also taking the pressure off Matthews allowing him to target the punchier finales.

Bora-Hansgrohe

Nationality: Germany
General manager: Ralph Denk
Title sponsors: Manufacturers of kitchen appliances & bathroom products

Since forming in 2010, Ralph Denk's squad developed organically before peaking in 2018 and 2019 when finishing third in the end-of-year UCI rankings. Since reaching those heights, though, the team's number of WorldTour wins took a considerable dip, registering 10 in 2020 and just eight the following year – versus 22 in 2018, 31 in 2019. Having largely targeted the classics and the green jersey at the Tour de France with the now departed Peter Sagan, they are expected to shift their focus towards the general classification, while the return of Sam Bennett will provide very good options in the sprint stages.

Best moment or victory of 2021

Sagan may have benefited following one of the most perfectly executed team efforts of the season to win stage 10 of the Giro last May, but it was team-mate Nils Politt who landed one of the best individual WorldTour wins for the squad in 2021. Proving too strong for breakaway colleagues Imanol Erviti and Harry Sweeny during stage 12 of the Tour, Politt rode away to win solo from 11.5km out as if to underline why Telegraph Sport suggested he was one of Bora-Hansgrohe's signings of the close season in 2020.

Biggest transfers of the close season

The departure of Sagan – along with his posse of support staff and riders, including brother Juraj – will give the squad a very different feel in 2022. Fortunately, though, the team appears to have invested wisely by bringing in proven winner and former employee Bennett, while the arrivals of Sergio Higuita, Aleksandr Vlasov, Jai Hindley and Belgian tyro Cian Uijtdebroeks would suggest the team are taking a shift in direction, focusing more on the hillier stage races.

Cofidis

Nationality: France
General manager: Cédric Vasseur
Title sponsor: Money-lending company

Now in its third successive year at WorldTour level, the French squad that was founded in 1997 by Cyrille Guimard, the legendary directeur sportif, remains something of an enigma. Instantly recognisable, both in name having been sponsored by money-lending company Cofidis for almost a quarter of a century, and in jersey design, the squad feels part of the very fabric that make up the peloton. Despite that familiarity, however, their results fall short of what may be expected. Have not won a stage at the Tour de France since 2008 (Sylvain Chavanel) and managed just one WorldTour win all season in 2021 (Victor Lafay, Giro d'Italia – stage eight).

Best moment or victory of 2021

There may have been a handful of wins for the now departed Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) and Elia Viviani (Ineos Grenadiers), but just one was in the WorldTour. "I cannot believe it, I have just won a stage at the Giro," Lafay said after landing the first win of his career which came after timing his move to perfection towards the end of the lumpy eighth stage. With Victor Campenaerts and stage leader Giovanni Carboni acting as proverbial carrots, Lafay reeled each in before going solo all the way to the line.

Biggest transfers of the close season

The signings of climber Ion Izagirre and sprinters Bryan Coquard and Davide Cimolai should, in theory, add some firepower to a squad that looked a little thin following the departures of Laporte and Elia Viviani. Whether or not they can bring those all important wins, however, remains an unknown. All three, though, have proved consistent recently and should pick up enough WorldTour points that may make the difference if Cofidis want to avoid the drop.

DSM

Nationality: Germany
General manager: Iwan Spekenbrink
Title sponsor: Dutch multinational

The German-registered team that was founded in 2005 has, over the years, proven to be a fine breeding ground for young talent. Unfortunately, though, that talent more often than not soon moves on to pastures new and the departures of Tiesj Benoot, Jai Hindley and Michael Storer have done little to halt that trend. Suffered a drop off in results last year with five WorldTour wins, though coming off the back of their best year yet (nine WorldTour wins) was hardly surprising. The arrival of four neo-pros from their development squad will, one suspects, keep that treadmill of talent rolling.

Best moment or victory of 2021

Spain proved a happy hunting ground for Roman Bardet as he won the first races of his career outside of France, while team-mate Storer added two Vuelta a España stages to his own list of wins. It was Bardet's, though, that was perhaps the most impressive coming as it did over a week after his general classification hopes ended in a crash. The win may have surprised few, but nobody was able to match the Frenchman as he rolled back the years with a trademark attack around six kilometres from the summit of Pico Villuercas.

Biggest transfer of the close season

Having signed eight new riders in the close season – including four from DSM's development team, two from Norwegian squad Uno-X and the 26-year-old Aussie sprinter Sam Welsford – one stands out more than most: John Degenkolb. His best years may be behind him, but it will be interesting to see how the two-time monument winner fares in the team where he first made his name. If nothing else, the 33-year-old who arrived on a three-year deal has bucked the trend and returned, rather than departed, the tightly run DSM ship.

EF Education-EasyPost

Nationality: US
General manager: Jonathan Vaughters
Title sponsors: International education company and American shipping firm

Formed 19 years ago – EF Education-EasyPost has almost as many iterations as it has years in the sport – Jonathan Vaughters' squad has quietly become a reliable outfit capable of landing victories across all terrain. With 11 WorldTour wins, including four stages at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, 2021 was the team's best return for a decade. General classification riders Hugh Carthy and Rigoberto Urán may have fallen short, but breakthrough wins for Stefan Bissegger and Neilson Powless, along with confidence boosting victories from Magnus Cort and a late-season flourish from Michael Valgren suggest the foundations are in place for further successes.

Best moment or victory of 2021

Cort's trio of wins at the Vuelta were mightily impressive, particularly his second on stage 12, but Alberto Bettiol's stage win at the Giro was a thing of beauty. On what was considered a 'transition' stage, Bettiol timed his move to perfection when after several attacks he finally broke the resolve of fellow breakaway rider Nicholas Roche. Having caught lone leader Rémi Cavagna on the final short but steep climb, Bettiol powered away to take only the third win of his career and his first at WorldTour level since the Tour of Flanders in 2019. Little wonder the Italian's celebrated enthusiastically ss he crossed the line in Stradella solo.

Biggest transfers of the close season

With no fewer than 11 new faces at EF Education-EasyPost following the retirements of five riders and the transfers of, among others, Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Lawson Craddock (BikeExchange-Jayco) the American squad will have a fresh feel throughout 2022. Odd Christian Eiking, who spent seven days in the leader's red jersey at last year's Vuelta while at Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, and Mark Padun, winner of back-to-back stages at the Critérium du Dauphiné with Bahrain Victorious, appear the most promising signings in the short term, while a handful of youngsters from US and European development squads suggest that Vaughters and his team are planning for the long-term future, too.

Groupama-FDJ

Nationality: France
General manager: Marc Madiot
Title sponsor: French national lottery

Founded back in 1997, the squad that is essentially a state-sponsored vehicle to advertise the French national lottery is yet to win a grand tour. Marc Madiot's team has, however, taken home points and young rider jerseys from all three – Baden Cooke (Tour de France, 2003 – points), Nacer Bouhanni (Giro d'Italia, 2014 – points), Thibaut Pinot (Tour, 2014 – youth), Arnaud Démare (Giro, 2020 – points). Have a promising squad, including young Briton Jake Stewart who will be hoping to build on a promising debut classics campaign, while much will be expected from Pinot, Démare and David Gaudu, the latter of whom may consider a tilt at the Ardennes races.

Best moment or victory of 2021

Despite winning a hatful of UCI races, just two came in the WorldTour: Gaudu's stage at Itzulia Basque Country and Stefan Küng's individual time trial victory at the Tour de Suisse. Gaudu's win came at the end of a breathtaking day of racing when Primoz Roglic sealed the general classification, while underlining why many have been tipping the young Frenchman for great things over the last few years. Unfortunately for Gaudu, the 25-year-old is once again expected to return to the Tour where he will be deployed as a domestique for the hugely popular, but erratic team leader Pinot.

Biggest transfer of the close season

The capture of the 24-year Michael Storer from DSM is a huge coup for Madiot and his Groupama-FDJ squad. Two stage wins and the mountains classification at last year's Vuelta a España, suggest the Australian could be an heir apparent to Pinot or his loyal lieutenant Gaudu. Whatever the hierarchy at Groupama-FDJ, particularly at the Tour, Storer's arrival should shake things up a little for the squad that has endured a disappointing few years in their home race.

Ineos Grenadiers

Nationality: Great Britain
General manager: Sir Dave Brailsford
Title sponsor: Multinational chemicals company

The British WorldTour squad may have failed to win the Tour de France for two years now, but in 2021 enjoyed their best year since 2018 in terms of race victories en route to finishing second in the UCI rankings. Stacked with four grand tour winners – Egan Bernal, Richard Carapaz, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Geraint Thomas – and an increasingly strong classics team featuring Tom Pidcock and Ethan Hayter, Ineos Grenadiers possess a wealth of talent. The addition of youngsters Ben Tulett, Kim Heiduk, Ben Turner, and Magnus Sheffield suggests the team is very much planning for the long-term. A career-threatening crash involving Colombia's Bernal, however, cast a dark shadow over the squad's pre-season preparations.

Best moment or victory of 2021

Four stage wins (two apiece for Filippo Ganna and Bernal) and two jerseys – including the fabled maglia rosa – in Italy ensured it was back-to-back wins at the Giro d'Italia for after the Colombian followed in the pedal strokes of Geoghegan Hart to take home both the general and youth classifications. Bernal's stage wins were impressive, but arguably one of the most memorable moments in the race came when, while struggling and under pressure, Bernal was willed on by team-mate Daniel Martínez who played a key role in his compatriot's second grand tour triumph.

Biggest transfer of the close season

Tulett, still just 20, is a rider that has impressed in recent years both on the road and in the fields of cyclo-cross. A two-time junior world cyclo-cross champion, rode alongside Mathieu van der Poel at Alepcin-Fenix for two years where again he did enough to attract the attention of Ineos Grenadiers. The climber from Sevenoaks finished 17th at Amstel Gold and 12th at Flèche Wallonne in 2021, enough to suggest he could line up alongside Tom Pidcock in the Ardennes, and may make his grand tour debut at the Giro d'Italia riding in support of Richard Carapaz. A hugely talented acquisition.

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux

Nationality: Belgium
General manager: Jean-François Bourlart
Title sponsors: Belgian food retailer and engineering companies

Founded in 2008, the Belgian squad under its various guises successfully operated in the Pro-Continental ranks until when, towards the end of 2020, they acquired their top-tier status having taken a WorldTour licence from the CCC squad. After making a slow start to their debut season in the WorldTour, landed a huge stage win at the Giro d'Italia through breakaway specialist Taco van der Hoorn, before later in the season veteran Rein Taaramae went into the leader's jersey at the Vuelta a España after he, too, added a stage to the team's collective palmarès. Further success came in Spain where Odd Christian Eiking spent seven more days in the red jersey.

Best moment or victory of 2021

Few who had been paying attention to the early part of the season will have been surprised to see Van der Hoorn get himself into the eight-man breakaway at the beginning of the 190km stage from Biella to Canale. However, with Bora-Hansgrohe in hot pursuit it was little wonder the Dutchman described the biggest win of his career as "'unbelievable". After riding Simon Pellaud off his wheel around 7km from the line, Van der Hoorn remained the last man standing before holding on against the odds all the way for the win.

Biggest transfer of the close season

The captures of Alexander Kristoff and his lead-out man Sven Erik Bystrom are undoubtedly the biggest signings of the close season for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux. While the 34-year-old Kristoff may be slowing – certainly in terms of race wins – the Norwegian may benefit from riding in a team happy to stage hunt following four seasons at UAE Team Emirates who have, in recent years, realigned their focus on the general classification. Belgians Kobe Goossens and Gerben Thijssen, who joined from Lotto-Soudal, should also provide outlets in stage races and the one-day classics.

Israel-Premier Tech

Nationality: Israel
General manager: Kjell Carlstrom
Title sponsor: Tel Aviv-based non-profit organisation and Canadian biotechnology company

Founded in 2015, Israel-Premier Tech made its WorldTour debut in 2020 when they finished bottom of the end-of-year rankings. Although the team that is bankrolled by Canadian billionaire property developer Sylvan Adams improved slightly in 2021, it remains worryingly close to the drop zone with just Cofidis and Lotto-Soudal below them in the UCI rankings. Despite their struggles in the top tier of cycling, have won stages in both the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, while the close season additions should add further experience and much-needed firepower to the squad.

Best moment or victory of 2021

Racing the Giro for the first time since crashing out in the opening team time trial in Belfast back in 2014, Dan Martin completed the set of stage wins in all three grand tours on the steep slopes of the Sega di Ala. While the key protagonists in the race for the pink jersey battled it out behind the Irishman, Martin held on all the way to the line, finishing 13sec ahead of Joao Almeida. "I couldn't quite believe it was happening," Martin said. "That's what I came here for." It was the last win of a fine career for the then 34-year-old.

Biggest transfers of the close season

A year after adding old timers Chris Froome, Daryl Impey, Sep Vanmarcke and Michael Woods to their roster, Israel-Premier Tech signed Simon Clarke (35), Hugo Houle (31), Giacomo Nizzolo (33) and Jakob Fuglsang (36) alongside 21-year-old Australian neo-pro Corbin Strong. While there is no doubting the squad lacks experience, the capture of Nizzolo, who is something of a late bloomer with the biggest and best wins of his career coming in the last two years, appears the best of the bunch. Signed on a three-year deal, Fuglsang has not won a race since 2020, but may yet roll back the years.

Jumbo-Visma

Nationality: Netherlands
General manager: Richard Plugge
Title sponsors: Business software provider and supermarket chain

The Dutch squad that will be competing at the top level for the 38th successive season in 2022 – only Movistar have been around longer – have quietly become one of the superpowers of the sport. Three successive Vuelta a España titles for Primoz Roglic, a runners-up spot at last year's Tour de France for Jonas Vingegaard and, arguably, the best all-rounder in the bunch in Wout van Aert: whether targeting the grand tours or spring classics, Jumbo-Visma have it covered. But can they land the holy grail this summer and win their first ever Tour title following the addition of youth and experience to their squad, or once again play second fiddle to UAE Team Emirates?

Best moments or victories of 2021

When Van Aert crested the summit of Mont Ventoux alone en route to his first stage win at the Tour onlookers were stunned by the climbing ability of the classics specialist. On the penultimate day the Belgian won a second stage with a dominant ride on a time trial leading to some openly asking if Van Aert could transform himself into a general classification contender. But when he outsprinted Mark Cavendish et al on the Champs-Élysées the following day, the then 26-year-old cemented his place as the greatest all-rounder in the world with this trio of stage wins for the ages.

Biggest transfer of the close season

Rohan Dennis' move during the close season certainly raised a few eyebrows, especially after claiming Jumbo-Visma was technically "a better team" than Ineos Grenadiers where he had spent the previous two seasons. But will the former world time trial champion walk the walk in the same cocksure manner that he talks the talk? Having last ridden a grand tour in 2020 as a key cog in the machine that delivered Tao Geoghegan Hart to victory at the Giro d'Italia, one suspects the Australian will be desperate to make his Tour de France return since walking out mid-race in 2019. Could, once again, have a big part to play on the big stage.

Lotto-Soudal

Nationality: Belgium
General manager: John Lelangue
Title sponsors: Belgian national lottery and adhesives manufacturer

The Belgian squad that has been around since 1985 has managed to win four of the five monuments over the years and like their veteran Philippe Gilbert are just missing Milan-Sanremo from their collective palmarès. Impressive wins from Andreas Kron, Thomas De Gendt and Caleb Ewan in 2021 were tempered by the latter's nasty crash in the third stage of the Tour de France that put an end to the Australian sprinter's season-long goal of winning stages in all three grand tours in the same calendar year.

Best moment or victory of 2021

It was a day that was overshadowed by crashes, with Mikel Landa taken away by ambulance, while the following day François Bidard, Joe Dombrowski and Pavel Sivakov were non-starters on stage six of the Giro d'Italia. Ewan, though, remained calm throughout a chaotic finale, darting onto wheels, picking his moment before launching beyond Giacomo Nizzolo just shy of the line to secure a memorable stage victory, the first of the two he won in Italy before packing his bags, much to the consternation of Eddy Merckx.

Biggest transfer of the close season

The return of Victor Campenaerts should add some much needed firepower to a squad in need of some wins – and points – in 2022. Having decided he stands a better chance of winning from a breakaway given the rise of the likes of time trial specialists such as Filippo Ganna, the hour record holder showed what he can do with his nose in the wind with a stage win at last year's Giro d'Italia. Another one or two of those, and Campenaerts will be a very popular boy with the Lotto-Soudal management and his team-mates.

Movistar

Nationality: Spain
General manager: Eusebio Unzué
Title sponsor: Spanish mobile telephone company

Having formed under the banner of Reynolds way back in 1980, the oldest team in the WorldTour has done it all – in stage racing at least. Through Pedro Delgado, Miguel Indurain, Abraham Olano, Óscar Pereiro, Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana and Richard Carapaz the squad has won 14 grand tours, but has fallen short in the classics and has just one monument – Liège-Bastogne-Liège – to its name thanks to evergreen puncheur Valverde who is due to retire at the end of the season when he will be 42. General classification hopes in 2022 rest on the shoulders of homegrown talent Enric Mas.

Best moment or victory of 2021

The standout performance came from Miguel Ángel López when the mercurial Colombian won stage 18 at the Vuelta a España. Having shaken off the main protagonists on the steep slopes of the Altu d'El Gamoniteiru, López drifted up high into the clouds all alone where he landed a memorable win, not too dissimilar to his victory on the Col de la Loze at the previous year's Tour de France. Unfortunately, this magnificent victory was all but forgotten two days later when López, angered at team orders, threw his toys out of the pram and quit the race before later making a swift return to his former team.

Biggest transfer of the close season

After impressing at the Tour de l'Avenir an almighty scrap broke out for the capture of Iván Sosa's signature, with Ineos Grenadiers – then Team Sky – winning that particular battle. Since then, though it has been relatively slim pickings – the highlights being three stages and the overall at Vuelta a Burgos and last year's impressive ride on the lower slopes of Mont Ventoux that ultimately secured the general classification at the Tour de la Provence – for a rider tipped for big things. One suspects Sosa will get more opportunities at Movistar than he was afforded at Ineos Grenadiers and it will be fascinating to see if he can finally live up to all that promise.

Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl

Nationality: Belgium
General manager: Patrick Lefevere
Title sponsors: Laminate flooring manufacturers

The Belgian super-team that was established in 2003 is one of the most successful squads in modern cycling and in 2021 finished top of the UCI rankings for the second time in three seasons. Based in the heartland of Flanders, it is the classics that are bread and butter to Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl – they won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Brugge-De Panne, E3, Tour of Flanders and Flèche Wallonne in 2021 – although they do not limit themselves to the one-day races. Indeed, wins for sprinters Mark Cavendish and Fabio Jakobsen, along with stages for Julian Alaphilippe and the now departed Joao Almeida underline, as if it were needed, when the race is on, whatever the terrain, the self-styled 'Wolfpack' is ready to pounce.

Best moments or victories of 2021

There were WorldTour wins for 10 different riders, but while beyond Kasper Asgreen's impressive Tour of Flanders triumph and the opening day stage at the Tour de France that propelled Alaphilippe into the leader's yellow jersey, Cavendish's four victories were the stuff of fairytale, the British sprinter rolling back the years in one of sport's great comeback stories.

Biggest transfers of the close season

In addition to 28-year-old Louis Vervaeke, general manager Patrick Lefevere has identified four young riders – Stan Van Tricht (22), Mauro Schmid (22), Martin Svrcek (18) and Ethan Vernon (21) – as future stars. Schmid won a stage at last year's Giro d'Italia, while Vernon, who competed for Team GB on the track at the Tokyo Olympics, arrives having won a stage at last year's Tour de l'Avenir and team pursuit bronze at the European Track Championships.

Trek-Segafredo

Nationality: US
General manager: Luca Guercilena
Title sponsors: US bicycle manufacturer and Italian coffee brand

Now in its 12th year of trading, the US squad with the Italian flavour – and not just because one of its co-sponsors is a coffee brand – has become one of the mainstays of the WorldTour. Over the years has won all but one of the monuments – Liège-Bastogne-Liège – and all of the cobbled classics thanks largely to Fabian Cancellara, Jasper Stuyven and Mads Pedersen. Landed just one grand tour through Chris Horner at the Vuelta a España in 2013, though stages have been won in all three while classification jerseys are also now in the wardrobes of Julián Arredondo (mountains – Giro d'Italia, 2014), Giacomo Nizzolo (points – Giro, 2015 and 2016), Fabio Felline (points – Vuelta, 2016), Giulio Ciccone (mountains – Giro, 2019).

Best moment or victory of 2021

With just two WorldTour wins, it was a season of slim pickings for the team. For Jasper Stuyven, however, a career highlight came at Milan-Sanremo in March when the Belgian landed a maiden monument victory. Having promised so much for so long, the then 28-year-old clipped off the front of the speeding pack that included defending champion Wout van Aert and an in-form Caleb Ewan before holding them off  all the way to the line on Via Roma. Bauke Mollema took Trek-Segafredo's only other WorldTour win of 2021 at the Tour, but it was Stuyven's glorious victory that impressed most.

Biggest transfers of the close season

It was a case of out with the old (Vincenzo Nibali, 37) and in with the... almost as old after Jon Aberasturi (32), Tony Gallopin (33), Dario Cataldo (36) joined the squad. No huge names incoming, but the acquisitions of Antwan Tolhoek (Jumbo-Visma) and Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) will add support and firepower in the stage races, while Otto Vergaerde (Alpecin-Fenix) should bolster Trek-Segafredo's increasingly strong looking classics squad.

UAE Team Emirates

Nationality: UAE
General manager: José Antonio Fernández
Title sponsors: Emirates

The Emirati-owned squad's roots lie very much in the heart of Italy and was founded in 1990 as Diana-Colnago-Animex. Nowadays has a very international feel, with its marquee rider – Tadej Pogacar – hailing from Slovenia. Won the Giro d'Italia twice through Gilberto Simoni (2001) and Michele Scarponi (2011), but it is the performances of the 23-year-old Pogacar that overshadows everything that came before him. Not only did Pogacar, while still just 22, win a second successive Tour de France in 2021, but he also landed two monuments, first at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and then Il Lombardia. Little wonder he has been likened to the great Eddy Merckx.

Best moment or victory of 2021

Despite winning three stages en route to his second Tour title, along with those monuments, it was a fourth place finish that, arguably, stood tall above all of Pogacar's achievements. Attacking on the penultimate climb of stage eight at the Tour, Pogacar 'killed' the general classification race with a single devastating attack. Putting over three minutes into Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz on the road to Le Grand-Bornand, Pogacar ultimately won the Tour before the first rest day leaving his rivals wondering what they could do to stop him. The answer was emphatic: nothing.

Biggest transfer of the close season

With Pascal Ackermann, Joao Almeida, George Bennett, Álvaro Hodeg and Marc Soler incoming, it would appear UAE Team Emirates have strengthened in all areas. It is 19-year-old Juan Ayuso, however, that may have wider reaching implications. Considered the next big thing, the Spaniard starts his first full WorldTour season after joining in June 2021 following his dominance at the U23 Giro d'Italia – three stages and winner of all four jerseys – and has already been talked of as Pogacar's heir apparent. No pressure then.

  • Ages of riders correct at time of original publication.

What makes this season so special?

While almost all cycling fans will be familiar with what races carry the most weight, certainly from a legacy perspective, few may understand the finer intricacies of how the WorldTour is managed, that could change in 2022. Throughout the season the subject of UCI points may play a huge role in not only how races are contested, but also what events are targeted by those hoping to avoid relegation, or gain promotion and switch from being a ProTeam to a WorldTeam.

In order to compete in next year's WorldTour a team must not only match the International Cycling Union's ethical, financial and organisational criteria, but also finish this season in the top 18 of the rankings that cover the previous three seasons of racing (2020, 2021 and 2022). Based on the standings going into this season – points can be won in all UCI races, not just those part of the WorldTour – Cofidis and Lotto-Soudal (19th and 20th) face potential relegation, while Alpecin-Fenix and Arkéa-Samsic stand to earn promotion.

Teams such as Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl, Jumbo-Visma, Ineos Grenadiers or UAE Team Emirates may not be unduly worried about earning enough UCI points throughout 2022, but for those near the cut-off point a win, or even a placing in a UCI race, could be the difference between having a team to ride for in 2023 and unemployment.