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2015 World Tour Analysis

There are less than 100 days until the season resumes with the Tour Down Under. 2015 will look a lot like 2014 but here is a closer look at the calendar.

Which countries have the most races? Where can you win the most World Tour points? What’s the busiest month of the year? And more.

First let’s look at the flagship calendar, the UCI World Tour, reduced by one race with the demise of the Tour of Beijing. It has 27 races with a total of 148 days of racing. Here is the split month by month.

As you can see March is very busy month. It’s easy to think the season is just getting going but it’s actually in full swing thanks to the overlap of Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico which makes 15 days of racing plus another seven later for the Volta a Catalunya. Note the big gap in February, the World Tour might start in January but it returns to hibernation for over 40 days. Ideally the sport would find something to fill this but it’s an awkward time of year, too cold for the northern hemisphere and for now the Gulf races like the Tour of Qatar are not in the World Tour. August too is very busy, we might feel a lull after the Tour de France but the calendar is packed: a sign that quality and quantity aren’t the same thing, even for the premium calendar?

Where are the races? It’s called the World Tour but we’ve lost the race in China so now there’s nothing in Asia. There are no events in Africa or South America either and the US is skipped too.

Toy with the number of race days and you can see how a grand tour ensures many race days. France adds more days with Paris-Nice and the Dauphiné.

Now to the points available per race. For one day races the top-10 get points. For stage races the top-5 per stage get points with the top-10 overall scoring points in the smaller stage races and top-20 overall in grand tours.

You can see the obvious weight attached to the grand tours. But once again this emphasises the importance of March and April as 40% of the season’s points haul are allocated by the time the Tour de Romandie is over. So if you wanted to win points, where’s the best place to get them?

The chart shows the points attributed during the season, with stage races split between overall and daily stage wins. Remember there are no UCI points for wearing or winning a jersey. As the chart shows, there are more points for the overall classification of a race. This helps explain why Spain topped the rankings for 2014 given the consistent performances by Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez. Note the “classics” label includes everything from Paris-Roubaix to the Clasica San Sebastian, the GP de Québec to the Flèche Wallonne so this segment is divisible among several specialisms. All this means Alejandro Valverde is the perfect points-grabber, able to score on the GC, in hilly one day races and win or place highly during stage races.

Hopefully this puts some numbers on the concept that is the world Tour. It’s a quantitative take, a mere count of the days, races and their location. It doesn’t look at the quality of the events. This is for another day but for now remember the Tour de France is off the scale compared to everything else.

2015 looks a lot like 2014 but the World Tour is a little less worldly without the Tour of Beijing (there are still 48 days of racing in China on the UCI Asia Tour). For now the World Tour is very much focussed on Europe.

To win points stage races are the answer and the summer grand tours offer the most. But a team can’t neglect the early season races. Snooze in March and April and a team will worry about its place in the World Tour, especially if the plans to move too 16 teams progress.

  • Methodology: race days belong to race, so the Tour de France’s Utrecht start counts for France. The Eneco Tour has been split appropriately between Belgium and the Netherlands. For the no. of races, the start date determines things, for example the Vuelta a Espana counts as a race in August only; but for the race day count sees stages allocated between the months, eg 8 are allocated to August and 13 to September.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • thomas villars Thursday, 16 October 2014, 3:35 pm

    Was the Tour of California ever on the WT? Or the Utah or Colorado races? What about Tour of Britian?

    Interesting perspective on the sport of pro cycling. Would be nice to see races in South America and US and UK on the list, along with Asia and Africa. Still a very Euro-centric sport, it seems.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 16 October 2014, 3:39 pm

      No to all those races. A WT event must have a field with all the 18 World Tour teams and then only a handful of invites go to the second tier Pro Conti teams. So imagine a WT California or Tour of Britain, it cannot invite all the small local teams to participate. These teams would lose out on the TV air time and several would vanish. Tricky balance between wanting a big race but wanting/needing to include locals.

      • denominator Friday, 17 October 2014, 9:03 am

        OK, there is a plan to reduce the number of WT teams to 16, which sounds even more logical today if there will are only 17 applying. And Europcar having results of a Pro Conti (plus Astana under doping scrutiny). That reduction would give the organizers more place for invitees.
        I am sure that coutries with great market, sponsors and at least one WT team should have a WT race. Thus the mentioned ToB and ToC could be promoted. And maybe one near East race in February (Oman or Quatar) as well, because of calender – this argument would apply also for Paris-Tours after cancelling Beijing.

  • BC Thursday, 16 October 2014, 4:06 pm

    At the very best the term ‘World Tour’ is a misnomer.

    Let the events, fans, teams and organizers choose.There appear to be too many restraints just to fill the coffers of the UCI, without any tangible benefit to anyone else – or am I missing something.

    • GB Thursday, 16 October 2014, 4:26 pm

      I get the impression a lot of the fans, organisers etc would throw out Canada and Australia and rename it the Eurotour if they could. 😛

    • Augie March Thursday, 16 October 2014, 5:50 pm

      Still better than in baseball where the “World Series” is features only American and a handful of Canadian teams.

      • Sean YD Friday, 17 October 2014, 2:40 am

        Um, Augie … news flash: There are no Canadian teams in Major League Baseball. The last one (Montreal Expos) became the Washington Nationals in 2005.

        • Anonymous Friday, 17 October 2014, 5:02 am

          My bad, clearly things have changed since I lived in North America and I should do my research (or stick to cycling).

          • Rob Ford Friday, 17 October 2014, 5:26 am

            Oy vey. Toronto.

          • Chris Friday, 17 October 2014, 11:33 am

            Last time I checked, Toronto was in Canada. Also, the World Series is named after a now-defunct newspaper, much in the same way the Tour started.

          • Dave Saturday, 18 October 2014, 6:15 pm

            Not that it matters; but the World Series is not named after a newspaper. http://www.snopes.com/business/names/worldseries.asp

    • theadore Thursday, 16 October 2014, 7:51 pm

      Its a bit problematic trying to spread the net wider in geographic terms. There is obviously huge financial benefit to so many races being in europe…. its where the fans and the sponsors are and therefore where the races will remain. It also means that the more modestly budgeted teams are able to get a squad out at every event. If the spread were more akin to say Formula 1, the cost would skyrocket and smaller teams may start to struggle.

      Expanding the sport wider would mean giving a higher status to the expansion races as well – in the short term this would mean increased prize money and WT points. In addition some of the European races would definitely have to perish to make room in the calendar. At some point there may need to be a trade off, but the classics and top stage races that make up the WT have such a rich history I honestly wouldn’t like to be the one who picks one to go.

    • Nick Evans Sunday, 19 October 2014, 1:19 am

      I guess the question is whether any of the WT races or teams find it easier to attract sponsorship & revenue as part of the World Tour?

  • Ablindeye Thursday, 16 October 2014, 4:47 pm

    All the statistical graphics are illuminating – really interesting summary of the “global” picture.

  • An Rás Thursday, 16 October 2014, 5:13 pm

    There needs to be a rebalancing between points for GC position and stage wins – too many riders being ultra cautious defending minor placings in stage races at the moment.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 16 October 2014, 5:21 pm

      Agreed. You get 20 points for a stage win in the Tour de France, the same for finishing 14th overall. We all celebrate the stage wins but nobody remembers who finishes 14th.

      The points system for teams qualifying for the world tour has changed now though with only a team’s best 5 riders counting. It means only the team’s best specialists need collect points, others are free to work for their leader or take risks for a stage win.

      • Augie March Thursday, 16 October 2014, 5:53 pm

        Agreed. In addition I think a stage win in a prestigious stage race like, say, Tirreno-Adricatco should be worth more than 6 points, the same as a rider would get for finishing 9th in GP Montreal or Clásica de San Sebastián.

        • Kev Thursday, 16 October 2014, 7:55 pm

          Careful, upping the points for stages creates stronger incentive for a riders to target a victory in a single stage, by easy, time-cut riding before the stage, and then abandonment soon (or immediately) after. It’s goofy to reward a sprinter high points for a furious 10-second effort in a stage, while giving little to a rider who demonstrates the tenacity and grit to ride consistently day-after-day. This is, at its core, an endurance sport.

          Look at the 2014 Tirreno; Matteo Pelucchi wins sprint stage 2, places 161 next day, 168 next, 161 next, and in sprint stage 6 – his specialty – was dead last, 163rd place. Final TT? 150th. GC? 3rd from last place. Where’s the prestige in that?

          Same race, a guy named Quintana stage-placed 15, 12,2,12,28 & 22. He ended up 2nd overall.

          • Augie March Friday, 17 October 2014, 5:05 am

            I think it’s a bit unfair to say sprinters only make a 10 second effort, I mean they have to not get dropped in what could be a 200km/5 hour + stage and then position themselves in the finale along with their team etc. My view is that as with the points jerseys in Grand Tours, World Tour points should reward winners not merely those who are consistently just getting into top 5s.

  • Rooie Thursday, 16 October 2014, 5:47 pm

    Never knew there was a point-difference between the old classics MSR, Flanders, P-R, LBL and Lombardia and the new classics AGR, SanSeb and Vattenfall. Strange. I always thought those last three races were of the same level as the four I named earlier. And I also thought that AGR, SanSeb and Vattenfall were a level higher than Plouay, Quebeq and Montreal.

    Maybe we should look more at the quality of the field and less to the points awarded?

    • snap Friday, 17 October 2014, 12:44 am

      Yes it’d be good to see a system where the points reflect the quality of opposition you had to beat in order to win, rather than the traditional significance of the event.
      But this could erode the significance of some traditional races, even some GT’s, as highly ranked riders pick and choose their events to prepare for another race later in the calendar. So, a classic historic race could end up being worth fewer points and eventually threaten it’s place in the WT?

      • Garuda Saturday, 18 October 2014, 11:00 am

        USA cycling federation has something that takes into account whomyou beat in the field to consider how many points you get in a race.

        Flipside is, it becomes imperative to you that the good riders don’t crash or even fall outside the top 10.

  • Nina Thursday, 16 October 2014, 7:54 pm

    Coppa Italia: I thought the reason for calling the lawyers over the Giro-Wildcard for 2015 was Andrioto and his 4th place at GP Beghelli and not Rabottini who won no points after his Test anyway.

  • AJW Friday, 17 October 2014, 2:14 am

    Interesting that the Tour de France has more points available than the other two GTs. Where are these points earned – ie. does 1st in TdF earn more points than 1st in Vuelta, or are points available elsewhere?

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 17 October 2014, 8:58 am

      Yes, the Tour has ~20% more points in total. For example 200 to the winner, 170 for the Vuelta/Giro winner, a stage win = 20 vs 16 etc and when you go down the points scale things get more equal.

  • Anonymous Friday, 17 October 2014, 8:48 am

    Very interesting analyzes but do not forget that UCI is rebuilding a complete revisited new points scale for 2015 men races (WorldTour, HC, 2.1…).

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 17 October 2014, 8:56 am

      They were supposed to but it looks like some of these changes are stalled. What seems to be happening is a common points system across all races but the actual WT points offering looks to be the same, at least going by the approved rules from the UCI Congress – which maybe get changed again before the Tour Down Under.

  • Anil M Saturday, 18 October 2014, 11:51 pm

    It was somewhat reassuring to read this just after the end of the season. Like taking the news about the next day at sunset.

  • Charles Sunday, 19 October 2014, 10:43 am

    Just so you know, that Datawrapper thing causes all sorts of problems on an iPhone

  • Ian Monday, 20 October 2014, 9:53 am

    Very illuminating. I’d be interested in what Inrng’s blueprint would be for a remodelled world tour and points system if you had a blank piece of paper and could organise it how you want. It has always seemed to me to be a very chaotic system but that perhaps lends it much of it’s charm. While there is talk of trying to ape say F1 I’m not sure that would be at all beneficial and perhaps the sport should be left alone, the races that matter to fans will be the ones the riders want to win and compete it and visa versa ?

  • Roelof Tuesday, 21 October 2014, 1:01 pm

    You mention The Netherlands has one race, probably the Amstel Gold Race. To which country do you attribute the Eneco Tour? It starts in The Netherlands 🙂

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 21 October 2014, 1:29 pm

      To Belgium when counting the number of races but split between Belgium and Netherlands for the count of race days. The race is run from an office in Paal in Belgium, so I had to pick this.

  • MultiplexRant Tuesday, 21 October 2014, 3:00 pm

    Interesting. When I’ve played ‘fantasy dictatorial head of the UCI’ (more fun than it sounds), I’ve thought about how I’d redraw the World Tour calendar and start cautiously bringing in new territories and races.

    OUT would go Romandie, Tirreno-Adriatico (I know, it was either that or Paris-Nice), Catalunya, CSS, and (presciently!) Beijing.

    IN would come Oman, the Strade Bianchi/Roma Maxima weekend, a one day race in South Africa (linked to Cape Argus?), a three-day stage race in the Colombian hills, and of course the mighty Tour of Yorkshire.

    Montreal & Quebec grudgingly remain, though I would’ve liked to have a US race in their as well – not ToC due to the limit on pro-conti teams mentioned earlier.

    I’d also (try to) get a .1 event in either (or both) of Eritrea or Rwanda, with a view to getting it to .HC in five years.