What's the difference between ProConti and World Tour teams?

What's the difference between ProConti and World Tour teams?

You may have heard the term "pro-conti" thrown around the punter's peloton with respect to certain teams such as Israel Premier-Tech or Lotto Destiny. The term is used to describe what are now known as Pro teams in the men's division of cycling, the level below the World Tour. Colloquially it's used to describe all teams below the level of World Tour.

How does the breakdown occur? Roughly speaking, there are three levels of teams in decreasing order of importance: World Tour > Pro Teams > Continental Teams.

In the men's division, there are 18 teams that are granted a World Tour "license" by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale).

The number of Pro Teams and Continental Teams isn't capped, but teams at the corresponding level must meet certain stipulations to maintain their level's license. For example, a Pro Team must have

20 riders, 3 team managers and 5 other staff (paramedical assistants, mechanics, etc.) on a full-time basis

Whereas a Continental team must have

Minimum 10 riders

We're glossing over the details, such as the cost of the license and the ranking of the riders necessary to qualify for the minimum count (you can't have your granddad on your Continental team to fill out the 10th slot...that is unless he's Valverde)

Teams race other teams on their own circuits - similar to how Formula 2 teams race other Formula 2 teams, and Formula 3 teams race other Formula 3 teams. But unlike Formula 1, teams from the circuit below have the ability to be granted wildcards race slots at the circuit level above them (so a Pro team may be granted a slot to race at the Tour de France - which is a World Tour level only race).

World Tour teams have plenty of stipulations that they're required to meet, of which the most arduous is that they must attend all World Tour races. Even if they don't want to. They have to send riders to the race, and must plan their calendars accordingly. Thankfully World Tour teams can have 30 riders, and if they want certain riders fresh for certain key races during the year, they can send their B squad riders to race B if they want their A squad for race A.

How does this all matter for punters? World Tour status is reassessed on a tri-annual (every three years) basis based on the UCI points awarded at races. Certain Pro teams may move up to World Tour and certain World Tour teams may move down to Pro level (similar to the Premier and Championship leagues for football in the UK). This may dictate a teams motivation levels at certain races. A team such as Israel Premier-Tech may be heavily motivated to place at a certain one-day classic to garner the UCI points and re-achieve World Tour status - whereas another World Tour team who's safely cruising along like Jumbo Visma may have sent their C squad because they had to attend the race and don't really have any skin in the game.

While this may not affect the race result all that much, all riders generally want to win, it does affect the ability of those riders to win if they have an A squad behind them compared to a C squad.