UCI Rankings Explained

Photo by Luc Claessen | ispaphoto.be

Lost somewhere in the shuffle between the continued fallout from the USADA report on Lance Armstrong and the presentation of the 2013 Tour de France route was the release of the UCI Cyclocross Classification (aka UCI Rankings). The rankings are updated each week following a World Cup race. So, with the first World Cup race (Tabor) occurring this past Sunday, the UCI released the first rankings of the 2012/13 season. While many may have expected to see the likes of Sven Nys, Jeremy Powers, or Niels Albert at the top, rule 5.2.003 (enacted in 2011) continues to catch many by surprise. Here’s a refresher on how things currently work and what that means.

The UCI offers six categories of racing with different points structures. They start with the UCI World Championships (CM), which offer the most points and go the deepest. That’s followed by World Cup events (CDM), Continental Championships (CC), National Championships (CN), Class 1 (C1) and Class 2 (C2) events. Since World, continental and national championships only occur once a season, riders gain the bulk of their points from World Cup, C1 and C2 races. Here’s a little table to show you the drastic difference in the points that these races offer:

C2 C1 CDM
Place Points Place Points Place Points
1 40 1 80 1 200
2 30 2 60 2 160
3 20 3 40 3 140
4 15 4 30 4 120
5 10 5 25 5 110
6 8 6 20 6 100
7 6 7 17 7 90
8 4 8 15 8 80
9 2 9 12 9 70
10 1 10 10 10 60
11 8 11 58
12 6 12 56
13 4 13 54
14 2 14 52
15 1 15 50
16 48
17 46
18 44
19 42
20 40
21 39
22 38
23 37
24 36
25 35
26 34
27 33
28 32
29 31
30 30
31 29
32 28
33 27
34 26
35 25
36 24
37 23
38 22
39 21
40 20
41 19
42 18
43 17
44 16
45 15
46 14
47 13
48 12
49 11
50 10
51 5*

*any rider finishing beyond 5oth gets 5 points

As you can see, the points get larger and go deeper in the higher ranked races. Therefore, a rider who simply finishes a World Cup race gets more points than a rider who finished 8th in a C2 race and/or 13th in a C1 race.

Of course, the UCI makes things even more complicated. According to rule 5.2.006 the number of points a rider can be awarded per race category is limited. For C1 events the best 6 results of each rider is used and for C2 events, the best 5 results are used. World Cup results are not capped. So, your C2 points will max out at 200, C1 at 480, but your World Cup points would max out at 1600 (8 wins). As you can see, for riders such as Jeremy Powers and Sven Nys, their C2 points max out really quickly and often times their C1 points do as well.

Finally, we circle back to rule 5.2.003 which uses a calendar year to calculate the rankings. So, rather than using only the points accrued in this season in its initial rankings, the UCI uses the points from October 23, 2011 (the second World Cup race last season) to October 21, 2012 (the first World Cup of this season). That means that if a rider like Sven Nys won 5 C2 races last winter, his C2 points for this year are currently maxed out. This is where things get complicated, so here are three real life examples:

Kevin Pauwels’ 2012 Results:

Date Event Result Points Class
21 Oct 2012 UCI World Cup #1 – Tabor 1 200 CDM
14 Oct 2012 bpost bank trofee #1 – Ronse 2 30 C2
07 Oct 2012 Superprestige #1 – Ruddervoorde 3 40 C1
30 Sep 2012 Vlaamse Industrieprijs Bosduin 6 20 C1
29 Sep 2012 Fidea GP Neerpelt 5 10 C2
Total 300

Sven Nys’ 2012 Results:

Date Event Result Points Class
21 Oct 2012 UCI World Cup #1 – Tabor 5 110 CDM
18 Oct 2012 Kermiscross 2 30 C2
14 Oct 2012 bpost bank trofee #1 – Ronse 3 20 C2
07 Oct 2012 Superprestige #1 – Ruddervoorde 1 80 C1
30 Sep 2012 Vlaamse Industrieprijs Bosduin 1 80 C1
29 Sep 2012 Fidea GP Neerpelt 1 40 C2
16 Sep 2012 Süpercross Baden 11 8 C1
Total 368

Jeremy Powers’ 2012 Results:

Date Event Result Points Class
21 Oct 2012 UCI World Cup #1 – Tabor 7 90 CDM
15 Oct 2012 USGP of Cyclocross #4 – New Belgium Cup 1 40 C2
14 Oct 2012 USGP of Cyclocross #3 – New Belgium Cup 1 80 C1
07 Oct 2012 NEPCX #4 – Providence Cyclo-cross Festival 5 10 C2
06 Oct 2012 NEPCX #3 – Providence Cyclo-cross Festival 1 80 C1
30 Sep 2012 NEPCX #2 – Gran Prix of Gloucester 2 30 C2
29 Sep 2012 NEPCX #1 – Gran Prix of Gloucester 1 80 C1
24 Sep 2012 USGP of Cyclocross #2 – Planet Bike Cup 3 20 C2
23 Sep 2012 USGP of Cyclocross #1 – Planet Bike Cup 1 80 C1
20 Sep 2012 Cross After Dark Series #1 – CrossVegas 1 80 C1
15 Sep 2012 Nittany Lion Cross 1 40 C2
Total 630

So, if we went back to the pre 2011/2012 rules, where only this season’s results counted towards the rankings, Powers would be the number one ranked rider. However, using a calendar year, things look drastically different:

Kevin Pauwels’ Results:

Date Race Result Points Class
29 Jan 2012 Championnats du Monde / World Championships 3 320 CM
21 Oct 2012 UCI World Cup #1 – Tabor 1 200 CDM
22 Jan 2012 UCI World Cup #8 – Hoogerheide 1 200 CDM
26 Dec 2011 UCI World Cup #6 – Heusden-Zolder 1 200 CDM
04 Dec 2011 UCI World Cup #4 – Igorre 1 200 CDM
23 Oct 2011 UCI World Cup #2 – Tabor 1 200 CDM
15 Jan 2012 UCI World Cup #7 – Liévin 2 160 CDM
26 Nov 2011 UCI World Cup #3 – Koksijde 2 160 CDM
18 Dec 2011 UCI World Cup #5 – Namur 4 120 CDM
12 Feb 2012 GP Heuts 1 80 C1
20 Nov 2011 Superprestige #4 – Gavere 1 80 C1
01 Nov 2011 GvA-Trofee #1 – Koppenbergcross 1 80 C1
05 Feb 2012 Superprestige #7 – Hoogstraten 2 60 C1
01 Jan 2012 GvA-Trofee #6 – G.P. Sven Nys 2 60 C1
23 Dec 2011 Superprestige #6 – Diegem 2 60 C1
09 Jan 2012 Cyclocross Otegem 1 40 C2
19 Nov 2011 GvA-Trofee #3 – GP Hasselt 1 40 C2
06 Nov 2011 GvA-Trofee #2 – Ronse 1 40 C2
14 Oct 2012 bpost bank trofee #1 – Ronse 2 30 C2
01 Feb 2012 Augustijn Parkcross Maldegem 2 30 C2
08 Jan 2012 Championnat National de Belgique 10 3 CN

Sven Nys’ Results:

Date Event Result Points Class
18 Dec 2011 UCI World Cup #5 – Namur 1 200 CDM
26 Nov 2011 UCI World Cup #3 – Koksijde 1 200 CDM
29 Jan 2012 Championnats du Monde / World Championships 7 190 CM
04 Dec 2011 UCI World Cup #4 – Igorre 2 160 CDM
26 Dec 2011 UCI World Cup #6 – Heusden-Zolder 3 140 CDM
15 Jan 2012 UCI World Cup #7 – Liévin 4 120 CDM
21 Oct 2012 UCI World Cup #1 – Tabor 5 110 CDM
23 Oct 2011 UCI World Cup #2 – Tabor 5 110 CDM
22 Jan 2012 UCI World Cup #8 – Hoogerheide 6 100 CDM
08 Jan 2012 Championnat National de Belgique 1 100 CN
30 Sep 2012 Vlaamse Industrieprijs Bosduin 1 80 C1
18 Feb 2012 Cauberg Cyclo-cross 1 80 C1
01 Jan 2012 GvA-Trofee #6 – G.P. Sven Nys 1 80 C1
30 Dec 2011 Fidea Cyclo-cross Leuven 1 80 C1
11 Dec 2011 Vlaamse Druivenveldrit 1 80 C1
10 Dec 2011 Scheldecross 1 80 C1
29 Sep 2012 Fidea GP Neerpelt 1 40 C2
12 Feb 2012 G.P. Stad Eeklo 1 40 C2
11 Nov 2011 Fidea Jaarmarktcross Niel 1 40 C2
18 Oct 2012 Kermiscross 2 30 C2
14 Oct 2012 bpost bank trofee #1 – Ronse 3 20 C2

Jeremy Powers’ Results:

Date Event Results Points Class
08 Jan 2012 Championnat National des USA 1 100 CN
21 Oct 2012 UCI World Cup #1 – Tabor 7 90 CDM
14 Oct 2012 USGP of Cyclocross #3 – New Belgium Cup 1 80 C1
29 Sep 2012 NEPCX #1 – Gran Prix of Gloucester 1 80 C1
23 Sep 2012 USGP of Cyclocross #1 – Planet Bike Cup 1 80 C1
11 Dec 2011 USGP of Cyclocross #7 – Deschutes Brewery Cup 1 80 C1
12 Nov 2011 USGP of Cyclocross #5 – Derby City Cup 1 80 C1
06 Nov 2011 Harbin Park International 1 80 C1
15 Jan 2012 UCI World Cup #7 – Liévin 14 52 CDM
23 Oct 2011 UCI World Cup #2 – Tabor 15 50 CDM
29 Jan 2012 Championnats du Monde / World Championships 26 42 CM
15 Oct 2012 USGP of Cyclocross #4 – New Belgium Cup 1 40 C2
15 Sep 2012 Nittany Lion Cross 1 40 C2
12 Dec 2011 USGP of Cyclocross #8 – Deschutes Brewery Cup 1 40 C2
13 Nov 2011 USGP of Cyclocross #6 – Derby City Cup 1 40 C2
04 Nov 2011 Darkhorse Cyclo-Stampede International CX 1 40 C2
22 Jan 2012 UCI World Cup #8 – Hoogerheide 29 31 CDM
26 Nov 2011 UCI World Cup #3 – Koksijde 32 28 CDM

As a result Pauwels currently has 2,363 points, Nys has 2,080 and Powers has 1,073. This means Pauwels is first, Nys second and Powers 10th. Even more interesting, Zdenek Stybar, who isn’t racing this season, is third in the rankings.

You’ll also notice that some of this year’s results are missing from our table. That’s because these riders have maxed out their points in 2011/2012, and their 2012 results will not count until the calendar year cycles through.

Hopefully that helps clear up and explain the complicated points system the UCI uses to rank cross riders, which also determines their start order. If the old system was in place, Powers would be the first rider in the grid, for now he’s stuck in the second row (the grid is 8 riders wide) and has to continue to get results in C1 and World Cup races to move up.

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