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EF-EasyPost’s CEO on World Tour Relegation Fight: “I will look forward to not racing like that”

By Monica Buck

EF Education-EasyPost managed to keep their seat in the World Tour after a tough fight in the last year of the three-year promotion/relegation cycle. The team’s CEO Jonathan Vaughters deemed the way of racing teams had to engage in to avoid relegation “absurd”. He intends to start at more races in order to not repeat the stressful 2022 season.

“Next season, we can concentrate on racing to race as opposed to, ‘well, it’d be great if we had three guys in the top 10,'” Vaughters told Cycling Weekly. “I hated racing like that.

“In September, I was like, ‘oh my god, we got second, sixth and ninth’. You couldn’t totally sacrifice any one person to get the race win because we needed all three guys to score. It’s a really absurd way of racing and super annoying for everyone in the organisation to race like that when you’re just trying to sort of stack up a bunch of guys in the top 20. I will look forward to not racing like that.”

The World Team Rankings add up the points of each team’s top 10 riders to determine the top 18 teams. One-day races are a critical part of that as they account for half the available points. However, EF Education-EasyPost were down to 11 riders due to COVID-19 and other illnesses during the Spring Classics season.

“In March and April, there are so many one-day races of a very high level and we just zeroed out on all of them. And it was amazing how fast the a** dropped out,” Vaughters said.

In the end, they managed to avoid relegation. Israel-Premier Tech faced a similar outbreak of illness and finished 20thoverall, meaning they need to wait if the UCI uphold the rules to only keep 18 teams in the World Tour.

Now that EF Education-EasyPost is safe, they can focus on the more positive things. They recruited Richard Carapaz and the recently revealed Tour de France route suits his riding style very well.

“He’s a very versatile rider,” Vaughters said of Carapaz. “He can win one-day races, he’s the Olympic champion, he can win stages at Grand Tours. He showed that in the Vuelta in a pretty spectacular form last year [with] three stages. He can win climber’s jerseys, king of the mountain competitions.

“He’s an aggressive rider, an attacking rider. Time trialling is a little bit of his Achilles heel, so it’s a Tour route that’s very suited to him.

“But I’m a long way from pounding my fist on the table and saying, ‘we’re going to go out and beat Jumbo Visma and [Jonas] Vingegaard.’ There are race favourites that are much further up the list. That being said, the route’s a nice gift from ASO. So, thank you.”

Will anyone be able to challenge Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma? You tell us!