Riding is Life


Behold … our Men’s WorldTour Draft 2024!

What happens if you draft the men's WorldTour peloton NFL-style? We found out.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 23.02.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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Welcome one and all to the Escape Collective Men’s WorldTour Draft 2024!

The draft, a method of allocating players into teams, is beautiful. It’s a system based on fairness, hope, and competition. Maybe perplexingly, it’s also about as American as it gets. As American as yugging down a hot dog and a Miller Light on the fourth of July, or driving in a Cadillac to Lauderhill in Florida to visit the biggest rubber band ball in the world (which if you were wondering weighs over 9,000 lbs).

You’ll likely know it from the acronym sports such as the NFL and NBA, but what about if we did it with sports that had real names too? Like cycling?

Well, that’s what we’re going to find out. We’ve assembled an Escape Collective crew who will be selecting squads of 10 riders for the 2024 men’s WorldTour season, accruing UCI points as they compete in real life.

These teams will be sorted into a final overall leaderboard after the merciless Tour of Guangxi, whereupon the winner will be inundated with fame and fortune, and the loser will face punishment for being the literal worst. At the moment we’re thinking this forfeit may be the loser has to do an Everesting …

The way it works is each competitor will first draft an existing WorldTour outfit of their choice and add their own sponsor to give it a unique, personal twist before selecting the riders who will go in it.

A randomly generated name selector has given us our team selection and rider draft orders, and it will be a snake draft for the riders, going from 1 through to 7, and then back around.

All current men’s WorldTour riders are eligible for selection, and competitors had 30 seconds to make their selection or go to the back of the queue. All UCI points are equal, build your squads as your hearts desire.

I was joined by Abby Mickey, Caley Fretz, Kit Nicholson, Ronan McLaughlin, Dane Cash, Joe Lindsey and a very special guest in Lidl-Trek rider Toms Skujiņš to play this game, which was recorded in early February as a podcast and we recommend you listen to for the full experience and stop scrolling when you get to the podcast player below if you want to listen to how it all played out (it can also be found in the places where you usually listen to your Escape Collective podcasts).

If written pieces are more your thing then continue on instead! We will be revisiting this draft a number of times over the season for an update on the standings to see who’s winning and losing. And of course you don’t think we’d fail to do a women’s rider draft too, right? That’s going down next week and of course we expect Abby to roundly crush everyone (no pressure, Abby).

One final but important thing … we would love for you to join in too! Simply post a comment on this article of your own created team name by adding your own sponsor to an existing WorldTour team, and then you have free reign to draft any rider that was selected in each of the rounds (identified by the rows on the below grid). Or, if you want to pluck someone from a lower round in your own higher round, or draft a rider who wasn’t even selected, you can do that too. Remember, they have to be a rider in a 2024 WorldTour team.

The Team Draft

Abby: Lidl-Trek M&Ms

My additional sponsor fits perfectly into the colour of the jerseys. The reason I’ve picked Lidl-Trek is so Toms can’t pick them … no, it’s because I love their women’s team.

Ronan: DSM-Firmenich-PostNL-There is a Group of Young People with Dreams, Who Believe They Can Create Wonders of Life Under Uncle Niu’s Leadership Internet Technology Ltd

I don’t think DSM’S team name is long enough. I don’t know any of the history behind this new company to be clear. It’s just what came up when I Googled the longest company name in the world. [It’s a Chinese company that manufactures condoms and was banned from trading under that name by the Chinese government, but it’s good enough for us!]

Joe: AlUla-Palantir

To back up the current Saudi co-title sponsor of AlUla we’re going to have Palantir Technologies, which is the American big data analytics company that provides all kinds of AI services to repressive regimes around the world including the United States.

Caley: Arkéa-Formula 1 Hotels

At the Tour de France we’ve stayed in a number of B&B Hotels [Arkéa’s actual co-title sponsor] and frankly they’re far too nice for my cycling team. I’m a cheapskate as a team owner so we’re now Arkéa-Formula 1 Hotels going into next year.

Toms: EF Education-EasyPost p/b Haribo

There is one other team I used to ride for, they’ve since changed names but I still think as I have been on American teams for quite a few years I might as well stick with that. My team is going to be EF Education-EasyPost p/b Haribo. I think it fits the vibe of the team and they have many colours already … and kids love them.

Kit: Ag2r La Mondiale-Criterion

I’ve had to cross out a few options sadly, but that’s the name of the game. I’m going to go with Ag2r but I’m going to bring back the brown shorts and add the Criterion channel to the team name. Movies all the way. It’s not funny or interesting, it’s just me.

Jonny: Ineos Grenadiers-Greenpeace

Mine doesn’t need much explanation. I’m going for the Ineos Grenadiers and my extra sponsor is going to be Greenpeace.

Dane: Visma-Lease a Bike-Monster Energy

I’m going to go with Visma-Lease a Bike and we’re going to up the arms race that Bora-Hansgrohe has begun with Red Bull. We are now Visma-Lease a Bike-Monster Energy and we are the energy drink sponsor of the professional peloton. There can be no other.

The Rider Draft

By chance, Abby also received the first overall pick of the rider draft. Below you can see our picks from 1-80.

The Debrief

Abby on her first overall pick of Mads Pedersen: “You have to pick someone who will get points.”

Caley on his second overall pick of Tadej Pogačar: “After much consideration, I am picking the rider who has acquired the most points in the past 12 months.”

Abby: I don’t regret my choice, I believe in my star rider and I’m happy with my decision.

Dane: I don’t think Geraint Thomas is going to win a Grand Tour this year but he’s going to race two of them, and love them or hate them but UCI points reward you for finishing in the top 10.

Jonny: Toms, are you pleased to be picked? To be picked in the round you were? Do you think you’ll be able to deliver the points?

Toms: Well, it’s an honour to be riding for Lidl-Trek, so I’ll stick with that.

Ronan: Did you have yourself on your list? Would you have picked yourself?

Toms: *shakes his head*

Caley: I feel you get plenty of points Toms?

Dane: He’s in the top 60!

Abby: He’s above Geraint Thomas!

Jonny: When you look down Toms’ list it’s a connoisseur’s effort, with real thought having gone into it.

Ronan: I think there is one name we have disgraced by not picking them sooner …

Jonny: Let’s get everyone else’s final thoughts to close things out.

Abby: I’m really happy with my first pick, I have no regrets there. My only regret is I didn’t get Wout van Aert.

Caley: If I’m honest I feel a few of my picks after my first one were out of guilt because I feel I stepped into this with a massive advantage. I think Neilson Powless will have a great year but I probably shouldn’t have picked him second. If I could have picked anyone stolen by anyone else it would have been Van der Poel, he’d have rounded out my squad.

Ronan: If I’m looking at it now and being truthful, I’m not sure why I picked Richard Carapaz instead of Aleksandr Vlasov, who is the rider I was hinting at earlier. I am confident Carapaz will do the business this season though. I think everyone in my list is going to win a race this year.

Dane: I think I may have one of the oldest teams here, which was not my intention when I set out.

Joe: I was definitely surprised to see Mathieu van der Poel fall to me at the 12th pick. Other than that I think my most speculative pick is Alaphilippe. Obviously it was fairly late in the draft but I’m really not sure how he’s going to go this year.

Kit: Slightly ashamed and embarrassed about a couple of my picks, I was just going for points-scoring. Needs must. I think I’ve got some scorers in there … although I’m running a little low on GC riders.

Toms: I’m quite happy overall but I had two guys I maybe wish I could have picked but they got selected by others. Olav Kooij got picked quite high but Jakobsen … I was maybe too slow to choose him. I think he’ll have a good year. New environment, team working for him. I think he’ll do well.

Jonny: I’m looking forward to us being glued to the Tour of Guangxi to try and win the final points. I’m expecting to be in the running to do an Everesting but that’s a problem for future me.

That was fun! Please do join in by posting your own team in the comments and also let us know your predictions of which of the above squads you think will win and who you reckon could finish dead last.

Current standings (February 22nd)

Ronan: 2,381
Toms: 1,454
Abby: 1,120
Joe: 1,069
Jonny: 922
Kit: 676
Caley: 239
Dane: 231

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