New rankings system: IG Pro Cycling Index

Saturday, 25 June 2011

IG pro cycling index

At times this season the word “index” has rhymed with suspicion thanks to the leaked list of Tour de France riders.

But now a far less suspicious index and hopefully a safer way to manage data has arrived: the IG Markets Pro Cycling Index. Cycling’s a tricky sport for rankings because we have sprinters alongside climbers, one day specialists and stage racers. Now that’s all part of the attraction for me. But it’s hard to say who is the best rider in the world and the wider public, not to mention sponsors, often “have to” know who is the best.

Personally I take a pluralistic view and tend to rate several riders as the best at the same time since we don’t really see Merckx or Hinault style domination across stage races and classics alike. Plus I don’t know why but I have dislike of lists, you won’t find my “top 10″ features on here. But I’m still interested in rankings, especially because points are crucial for teams and riders. Points are effectively a form of currency.

Lloyd Mondory

No wonder he's smiling

Often you might not realise a rider’s value to a team until you check their ranking points for example France’s only squad with “ProTeam” status is Ag2r and you probably don’t realise their number-three ranked rider, on the UCI scale, is Lloyd Mondory. You probably wouldn’t recognise him if he walked past you but France’s only top level team is dependent on this guy.

 

The UCI rankings haven’t quite worked for me. They don’t get updated that often – the late Xavier Tondo is still listed – and there’s a tendency to reward consistent top-10 finishes over actual victories. I like the Cycling Quotient rankings indeed there’s a permanent link on the right of the page for easy access all the time but the site is run by volunteers and if it’s timely and accurate, it’s not well known.

Pernod rankings

When rankings mattered

To return to my earlier point yes it’s hard to pick the best rider but in times past the Super Prestige Pernod rankings were a big deal. Riders are unlikely to make concious or subconscious decisions during a race based on their IG ranking for the time being.

But we’ll see, the company is putting plenty of resources into this and the aim is to establish this as feature that’s here to stay, which is why I’m giving it a mention. Put simply it could be as useful as CQ but with a bigger push in the media to make it more widely understood and therefore valued. It’s this legitimacy that both the UCI and CQ rankings have so far struggled with.

http://www.igmarkets.co.uk/procyclingindex

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{ 10 comments }

C Grade Cyclist June 25, 2011 at 8:27 am

The rankings system will never be perfect – I mean how would do you compare Cavendish, Cancellara, Gilbert, and Contador??

To me, long arguments over a drink or three over the relative merits of these riders is what makes cycling so much fun. But I think any rankings system will always be doomed to favour one style of rider over another – I don’t think a perfect system could exist…

Granny Gear June 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I find the current ranking system weights Grand Tour winners too highly. Sure, they should be rewarded but I don’t think it rewards guys who perform consistently well in the Classics, like Nick Nuyens.

Sabre sausage June 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm

How about a multi-ranking system? Something like GC, Sprinting and Climbing. Teams could only use one of the riders category (presumably their highest) points towards the Team points and they would be limited in the total number of GC, Climbers or sprinters they had.

Alex June 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I’ve found a problem. Jens Voigt isn’t anywhere on that list.

JT June 25, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Great post, I’ve bookmarked the index page. There are some very interesting data in there. It’s good to see the days & km raced, those figures provide some real insight. If you just had the rider placings and points it would be quite a bland and tedious list and you’d be left asking annoying questions like ‘why is EBH two places below Cadel Evans?’. We know Cuddles has structured a light race program so far this year (so most of his points are from the latter half of 2010) and now we have the km data to confirm it.

Chris June 25, 2011 at 5:55 pm

I wonder how Thor Hushovd scores higher than Voeckler on this list, when he has one win to TV’s 8 or 9.

mdfrank June 25, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Calling IG Markets rankings more “legitimate” than the UCI’s makes no sense to me what so ever. The UCI is using their rankings to promote their World Tour as much as they are using them to rank riders and teams. Fans don’t have a lot of respect for the tours of Australia, Poland or Beijing but their points count significantly in the UCI’s scheme. The game is the UCI’s and they are promoting themselves.

IG Markets enters the picture with a what in my mind is a purchased package of sports data obtained from Opta. Are they just the named sponsors of the information, could this be known as the McDonald’s cycling index in the future? The IG Markets index is unique in that it can tell you who has had the best record in the past 12 months but you can’t compare it to the UCI list until the end of the season. What makes it suspect to me is that they have a panel who will award “bonus” points during the tour for “outstanding efforts” among other things (Do outstanding efforts occur only during the Tour? Will Team Sky be favored in these panel decisions?). I’m being harsh I know, but IG Markets are sponsoring a Pro Team.

Now compare the UCI and IG Markets efforts to the Cycling Quotient Ranking. With CQ you can easily research a riders detailed results for the past several years. You can match riders records in head to head racing i.e. Who beat the other the most times? Greipel or Farrar. Or follow a racers ascension through the ranking from year to year if you were wondering where did this new talent come from? Should I be suspicious if he does really well in a time trial? The ability to easily work with their numbers should be the model for indexes of this type (They do the really geeky work for you.). This index is made by and for fans and students of bicycle racing. It follows Continental, Pro Continental and World Tour racers and the women too. Financial motives don’t make the UCI or IG Markets indexes more legitimate, if anything they make them less so.

Breakaway Artist June 27, 2011 at 3:33 am

IMO, there should be a ranking system where the most complete rider is, at end, the one that get rewarded.

So this sytem would encourage versatile riders, riders who can climb as well as sprint as well as time trial for example: then the rider at the top of the ranking at the end of the year gets to wear the rainbow jersey.

That would be far more exciting cycling
(since I think that this specializing of cycling (Tour riders, Classics riders, Sprinters, climbers, TTers, etc.) is not good for the sport. I want to see more complete cyclistes (like Hinault for example).

And that would put an end to that absurd present system where that rider that wins ONE particular race at the end of the season is declared ‘World Champion’…

Roadie1 June 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Legitimacy… That’s quite a question. That could mean UCI’s ranking is most legitimate simply because it is the International Cycling Union (if you see what I mean).

As to rewarding or scoring climbers, sprinters, roulleurs, TT specialists (and any permutations thereof) on the same dataset, how can you expect clarity or disambiguation when e.g. the tour includes 2 secondary prizes for sprinting and climbing, as well as the overall winner? You’d need different datasets for riders scores in sprints, climbs AND overall time/race results.

The Inner Ring June 27, 2011 at 4:50 pm

By legitimacy, I mean that the prize of topping the UCI rankings isn’t a big deal for riders or the wider public. In times past the Super Prestige was…. super prestigious.

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