'It's a really absurd way of racing' - EF boss Jonathan Vaughters on WorldTour relegation scrap

EF Education-EasyPost manager says he hated racing for UCI points

EF Education-EasyPost riders at the Giro dell Emillia 2022
(Image credit: Getty)

EF Education-Easypost manager Jonathan Vaughters has said he will not miss the “absurd” way his team had to race to survive a WorldTour relegation battle this season. 

In many UCI-sanctioned races, having multiple high-finishing riders gives a higher points haul than winning outright. This proved a lucrative strategy for teams facing relegation in the latter half of this season.

Speaking to Cycling Weekly, Vaughters said: “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’. I mean, that’s like the dumbest. I hated racing like that.

“In September, I was like ‘oh my god, we got second, sixth and ninth’,” he added. “You couldn’t totally sacrifice any one person to get the race win, because we needed all three guys to score [UCI points].

He added: “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."

“It is what it is, but I will look forward to not racing like that."

EF Education-EasyPost's need to get involved in that relegation fight in 2022 stemmed in part from a large number of illness setbacks mid-season. By the middle of March, the team had 19 out of 30 riders either out with Covid-19 or another illness. 

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

The team quickly got drawn into a relegation scrap alongside Lotto Soudal and Israel-Premier Tech, both of whom are set to lose their WorldTour licences. In pursuit of UCI points, all threatened teams took on extra race days, with EF Education-EasyPost competing in 74 events in 2022, compared to around 60 pre-pandemic. 

Going into the next three-year relegation cycle, Vaughters plans to keep up the busier program. 

“The idea will be to send riders to some of those races that we normally might not have done, but are suited to us,” he said, “like a Tour of Norway or a Milano-Torino.

“We’re not going to chase around races in Belgium and France that, quite frankly, we just never recruited for.” 

Did the team consider bringing in a sprinter for the flatter one-day races? “No,” Vaughters replied. “We recruited Richard Carapaz.”

“He’s a very versatile rider,” the team manager added. “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.”

When asked about Carapaz’s GC chances at next year’s Tour de France, Vaughters said: “The route is very suited to his characteristics as a rider. 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.”

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