2014 Pro Cycling Calendar Analysis

Tour Down Under

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.

Tour of Azerbaijan

22 thoughts on “2014 Pro Cycling Calendar Analysis”

  1. From a Great Britain perspective it is a mystery why the Tour of Britain does not have a higher ranking of 2.HC

    Also surprising to see that countries such as Algeria, Iran and Morocco have such high numbers of race days.

    • Britain is like the US with the Tour of California, if you upgrade the level of the race then you also upgrade the level of teams who take part. By doing this you leave behind all the small domestic teams. A national race that shuts out the local teams can see the public disinterested by a bunch of foreigners but it can also spell the end of the domestic Conti-level teams who count on TV exposure in the race for their existence.

      • I suspect the British public would be much more interested in a race which attracted a higher level of racing even if they are foreign riders. At the moment any big names who turn up (particularly from Sky) dont seem bothered and treat it like a training ride

        • Sky can hardly be faulted for their approach to the Tour of Britain this year – however much they can be faulted for previous years. They took control from the first hour and never let up. As for the public’s attitude, suggest looking at the crowds around the Sky bus at start and finish every day, plus the crowds on the roadside for whom Wiggins, Sky (as well as Cav) were a HUGE draw.

      • In the case of the Tour of Britain, the organisers would like to move to 2.hc but were denied this status by UCI. The prospect of accommodating World Tour teams rather than local Conti teams would be welcome, but it seems like they did not have the right support at the UCI. Maybe with Cookson it will change?

        The source of the story is from velonation.

      • *ALL* Home nation Continental teams can race 2.HC. The only entrant from 2013 that would not be able to enter Tour of Britain as 2.HC would be An Post Chain Reaction as they are Belgian-registered.

        • But at 2.1 level there are a max of 50% WT teams allowed, at 2.HC that goes up to 70%. So if the WT teams take it up, there’ll be less space for continental teams, regardless of how many are eligible.

  2. Germany suffers from the big doping crisis with Team Telekom. It was the Implosion of a german cycling boom additional to the economic crisis. All traditional regional stage races, except Bayern-Tour, dissapeared. That were round about 30 racedays. But I am optimistic that they will come again, step by step, as sports reputation slowly recovers.

  3. Is the small number of race days and absence of a pyramid in GB a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy? i.e. lack of quality teams = lack of domestic sponsor interest = lack of races = lack of quality teams

    • Possibly, although road closures seem to be a big problem in Britain. The Premier Calendar races are always under pressure e.g. down from 12 in 2007 to 6 this year. There seem plenty of entrants for criteriums, which presumably the police prefer due to only having to close small circuits.

      The Tour of Britain wanted 2.HC status but the UCI said no, so it doesn’t seem to be the organisers keeping the lower level British teams on board that prevented it from happening.

      • If it goes to HC, British conti teams would still be invited, it would just mean a smaller number than the 6 at present. Plus the GB squad would still get invited on top of the restricted number, as the national team).

        Road closures are a problem here. To be honest, its not unique to the UK – seeing similar pattern in countries like US and Australia (which saw a big race cancelled recently due to unability to reach agreement over road usage, or some such. I’m sure an Aussie will read this and provide more accurant info!). For race organisers here the requirements and resulting costs around insurance have gone through the roof, as have the costs of policing – organisers have had enough of propping up races year after year with their own money, so its not surprising that we’ve lost some domestic races.

        And we come to the sponsor side. People say more TV coverage would be the answer – but the Tour Series appeals to ITV4 because its a series of races over a relatively short period where there can be continuity over who won at the previous race, which team’s leading the Series and so on. And the urban setting and the evening timing means they can spectators out onto the course. With the road races, its not like that – the races are scattered over several months, and lets be honest, attracts very few spectators.

        Having said that, BC are revamping the Prem Calendar, so lets see if this has any effect

        • Yes the Goulburn to Sydney (first held 1902) was cancelled this year because the organisers couldn’t provide full road closure and the riders wouldn’t ride without it. It is very hard to do this route without using the main highway from Melbourne to Sydney for significant stretches.

  4. So, with 153 days on the WT at present, and only 120 days to be allowed for Division 1 in the future, presumably that means that 33 days worth of races will become WT Division 2? And an extra 17 days to be promoted from HC status?

    Agree with the other comments about the amount of UCI-recognised racing in the UK being hampered by the British antipathy towards road closures.

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