UCI delays new rankings system after catching heat

The new system, unveiled January 1, dramatically altered the way riders and teams earn points during the season

MILAN (VN) — The radical points and ranking system implemented on January 1 lasted only three weeks. Over the weekend, cycling’s governing body scratched its changes and reverted to the WorldTour scales used through 2014 season.

“It has indeed become clear that the new ranking system was presenting teams and riders with considerable problems,” UCI President Brian Cookson wrote in a letter to teams and related associations, which was obtained by VeloNews.

The UCI updated its road race regulations Saturday to eliminate the massive text overhaul it made in red print on January 1. The January 24 changes put the points and ranking system back in line with the one used since the WorldTour replaced the former World Cup in 2005.

The UCI released its WorldTour rankings Sunday, with Santos Tour Down Under winner Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) on top. The system sits better with teams, some who complained that the changes came without proper notice.

“You can’t change your rules suddenly in January,” Richard Plugge told Dutch broadcaster NOS when the changes surfaced at the beginning of January.

The broad changes introduced which followers still were struggling to understand or were unaware existed would have changed the rules late into the offseason and impacted how cyclists and teams ranked for 2015 and beyond. They could have affected which teams receive a 2016 WorldTour license and wildcard invitations to the grand tours.

The new World Classification outlined January 1 created a single ranking for all elite and under-23 riders. Instead of a calendar year, it operated on a 52-week rolling year and the UCI was to update it weekly.

The regulations published January 1 included sweeping point scale changes. For the first time, all three grand grand tours offered equal points — 1,000 — for the overall winner instead of the Tour de France having greater weight. The remaining WorldTour events offered equal points to the winner, 500.

The World Classification would give the Critérium du Dauphiné overall winner the same 500 points as the GP Montreal winner, for example. The current WorldTour system favors the one-day monuments and stage races over the smaller one-day events.

The stage races would count for more with the holder of the leader’s jersey earning points per stage. In grand tours, the mountains and points winner would also take home points for the World Classification.

When the first World Classification appeared January 18, José Rujano led thanks to his overall win in Venezuela’s Vuelta al Tachira en Bicicleta stage race.

The UCI appeared on the right track with the World Classification, but introduced it too quietly and too late ahead of the 2015 season. Cookson, in his letter dated on Saturday, said despite the problems and the delay, the changes will come.

“The UCI has taken note of some concerns expressed recently on the subject of new rankings,” Cookson wrote.

“It has indeed become clear that the new ranking system was presenting teams and riders with considerable problems given that they had assumed that they would be working in 2015 with the 2014 system and had built their structures and planned their seasons accordingly.

“These concerns convinced us of the merits of a postponement of the introduction of the new regulation to allow all parties to adapt to the new ranking system.”

Cookson explained that the UCI will test the ranking system this season and refine it to be reintroduced for another year.