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.