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The UCI has announced a series of changes to its individual and team rankings designed to make both systems more coherent to fans. But since little about the rankings system is particularly coherent now, allow us to explain why each change matters.
First, the basics. The UCI has two major worldwide rankings systems, the World Ranking, and WorldTour Ranking. World Ranking includes all professionally licensed riders and races, 2,952 riders in total. It is calculated on a rolling, one-year basis. WorldTour rankings only include riders on WorldTour teams, and in 2016 was calculated based on a given season (January to October). Peter Sagan won both last season. For 2017, the two different rankings remain, but they’ve been homogenized.
Change: WorldTour Nations ranking is scrapped. The World Nation Ranking remains. The World Nation Ranking will be based on results in the UCI International Road Calendar.
Why it matters: Remember when the United States only got two men’s road race slots at the Olympics and Iran got four? This should help solve that. Before, Olympic allocations were based on WorldTour Nations ranking, then open slots filled by Continental rankings. The Americans had a bad year in the WorldTour, and top Americans didn’t gain Continental points, so the nation fared poorly there, too. Now all riders will contribute to one World Nation Ranking, which should allow the ranking to better reflect the actual strength of a nation.
Change: The first 60 riders to finish will score points. Used to be the first 20.
Why it matters: UCI says it will “improve the spectacle.” The change is more relevant for team rankings, which determine which teams stay in the WorldTour. You’ll see more sprinting far from the front, which is a sort of spectacle, we suppose.
Change: The points gained by all riders in a team will count toward the team’s ranking. Before, only the points of the first five riders counted.
Why it matters: This change has potential implications within the rider market. Before, only top riders (top five from each team) had useable WorldTour points; now every rider could have useable WorldTour points. If points are currency, this is inflation. There will be more points in the system, because more riders will earn them (top 60 each race) and every rider’s points will count (instead of just 5), so it makes the points earned by those top five riders less valuable.
Change: New WorldTour races, added for 2017, get their own points scale.
Why it matters: The new WorldTour races are required to invite all WorldTour teams, but the teams don’t have to come. The points scale for these races is lower than other WorldTour events (300 points for a victory, compared to 400 in races smaller one-days, 500 for major one-days, 850 for the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, and 1000 for the Tour de France). Since skipping these new races will result in a smaller points penalty, teams are more likely to skip them.