You can download the 2014 calendar as a series of individual events and dates. But what’s the big picture? Where are all these races, which are the busiest months of the year and what’s the split of races between their different categories?
First a simple question, how many days are there in the year? In cycling the number varies. There are 153 days of racing on the UCI World Tour calendar but a total of 1173 days of UCI-registered men’s pro racing around the world when you add in the UCI’s Europe, America, Africa, Asia and Oceania Tours and on top of this you can add the worlds, regional championships and more. Here’s the amount of racing per month around the world.
Note things go quiet during July (and it’s 2014 despite Datawrapper adding in 13 for fun). This looks like the shadow of the Tour de France, other races fear they’ll be ignored given the attention taken up by the Tour de France, whether in column inches or the volume of media attracted to France for July.
Next up, the number of races per country. The French lead and by some margin. Of course having the Tour de France, the Dauphiné and Paris-Nice means many days of racing but the Italians have similar events. Instead the calendar is filled with many .2 level races, for example the Tour de Normandie is seven days long. This means the Normandy region has more days of pro racing than the whole of Great Britain across the sea. Meanwhile Germany might be Europe’s largest country but it’s a racing desert with only 11 days of racing and trumped by most of its bordering countries, from Austria to Poland, Belgium and Switerland.
Much of the calendar depends on local attitudes on whether a race is added to the UCI calendar or not. Indonesia plenty on the UCI calendar but none at a high level. Also it’s one thing to put a race on the calendar, another for it to ahead. Syria has three races and the ongoing conflict means they’re unlikely to happen.
However these numbers are explained, they do suggest several things. Take Britain which seems to lack the normal pyramid structure, instead it looks top-heavy with Team Sky and its track cycling team but has few international races and, away from the calendar, no Pro Conti team. Contrast this with the US where there are 33 days of international racing and a broader base of teams. We can see plenty more oddities, for example we all know of the passion for cycling in Colombia but they only have one race for 12 days whilst Bolivia has two races totalling 15 days and Venezuela has 20 days. It’s all about budget and operations on the ground and shows us race days might not equate to public interest or more.
This chart shows the various UCI Tours. As you can see the Europe Tour is huge whilst the Oceania Tour is tiny, just the Herald Sun Tour and the New Zealand Cycle Classic. You can imagine this chart changing shape over time with calendar reforms, the World Tour will get shorter as will the number of European races.
There are many ways to crunch the numbers but the three charts show us a few things:
- pro cycling is a summer sport but there are more races on in the spring than summer
- France has a lot of racing but China, Indonesia and Brazil are high up too while India is conspicuously absent
- The likes of Britain and Germany might be two of Europe’s largest economies with sizeable populations and plenty of cyclists but they have few events on the UCI calendar to reflect this
- Any sponsor coming into the sport needs to think about where their team will be racing and especially whether France is a key market
If you want more on the women’s calendar, see the work done by Sarah Connoly over at the podium café.