New UCI Points System for 2015

Giro d'Italia

The UCI have brought out a new system of points and rankings for 2015. The main ranking is the “UCI World Classification”, a rolling ranking of riders of all categories based on performances over the previous 52 weeks as opposed to each season or calendar year. Within this there are big changes to the allocation of points across races, for example all three grand tours are now treated equally.

All this is buried in a PDF listing modifications to the rulebook but below is a summary of the changes along with the new points scales.

Update Sunday 25 January: the UCI has scrapped the introduction of this scheme for 2015 following protests by teams upset at the sudden introduction. It should be back for 2016 but until then the old system applies: calendar year, more points for the Tour de France etc.

World Classification
The UCI World Classification will rank riders and nations. It will be calculated on a 52 week rolling basis with the rankings updated each Monday. The count at the end of each calendar year will be used to award an annual winner. It will include all male riders alike, from the World Tour down to U23 riders so points earned in all UCI races from World Tour to .2 status races will count to the UCI World rankings.

Continental rankings
There will be separate continental rankings where all points earned in non-World Tour races will be added up for continental rankings. A rider can appear in several continental rankings, for example score points in the Tour of California and you’ll appear in the America Tour rankings, score more in the Route du Sud later in the month and you’ll be in the Europe Tour rankings as well.

UCI WorldTeam rankings
There is also a ranking of UCI WorldTeams, the label given to the 17 top teams in the World Tour. This ranking is obtained by adding up the points scored by the team during each UCI WorldTour event. These points are equal to the points won by the three riders having scored the most points during the event (prologue, stages, GC, secondary classifications, wearing the race leader’s jersey cumulated).

UCI Pro Continental rankings
Based on the Continental rankings explained above, the cumulative score of the eight best riders from each UCI Pro Conti and Conti teams will be used to rank these teams

National Rankings
Based on the Continental rankings explained above the best eight riders from each nation will have their points added together to score for their country and rank each nation.

There are two main rankings to remember:

  • the UCI World Classification which ranks all riders and operates on a rolling 52 week basis and the winner at the end of 2015 gets a trophy
  • the UCI WorldTeam rankings cover the top teams each year and the leading team at the end of 2015 gets a trophy

The regional, national and continental rankings are subsidiary to these main rankings.

Points Scale
Here’s the more interesting part. Out goes the old scale and there’s a new system of awarding points across all races. Here’s the full table, scan it and we’ll get to a summary the changes below the table…

The first point to note is the equality for grand tours. In 2014 and before the Tour de France offered a points premium compared to the Giro and Vuelta (200 points to 170). Now it’s equal, an arithmetic alteration that’s a step to making the calendar more balanced.

Next points for all other World Tour races are equal. In the past the Monuments (Milan-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia) attracted a premium but now all races are equal, an overall win in the Tour Down Under is worth the same as Paris-Roubaix; the Vattenfall Cyclassics is the same as the GC of the Dauphiné.

However if the overall win in a stage race like the Dauphiné brings the same points haul as victory in the Tour of Flanders, a stage race offers more points elsewhere. New for 2015 is the ability to earn points by wearing the leader’s jersey each day in a stage race plus new points for the final winner of secondary classifications like points or mountains jerseys but only in grand tours. Here’s the scale:

UCI points scale 2015 rankings

This daily points allocation for stage races makes sense, wearing the leader’s jersey in a stage race is a valuable and prestigious event and being rewarded with points makes sense. However it does tilt the rankings to stage racers, someone who grabs a leader’s jersey early in a grand tour will rack up extra points. But not that much, wear the maillot jaune or maglia rosa for 10 days and you collect 250 points, fewer points that you’d get for finishing fourth – off the podium – in, say, the GP Plouay. Put another way, a 10 day spell in yellow brings more publicity than points.

Criterium du Dauphiné

Style vs Substance
Rankings aren’t the be all and end all of pro cycling but all the same if the UCI is making these big changes it’s curious to see them slip out inside a PDF that sits on a backpage of the UCI website listing rules and regulations. The rankings themselves matter more than the way they emerge but if the UCI wants people to value them it needs to work on the announcement and give them new system some prestige: a proper press release, some teaser pics of a towering trophy… instead of a furtive PDF.

Topping the league table or rankings matters in other sports but in cycling it’s performance in a race and the results that count: winning the Tour de France is the big prize, not landing 1000 points. But UCI points have been cycling’s undeclared currency in recent years as teams try to avoid relegation from the World Tour and this has affected tactics and performances in races too.

The changes for 2015 are substantial with a single UCI World ranking that will list all riders. Also there’s greater equality between the World Tour events with equal points for the three grand tours plus the addition of points for wearing or winning a jersey.

Update (Friday PM): if you found it surprising to find these major changes tucked away on a back page of the UCI website, it seems the pro teams agree. Via the AIGCP grouping the teams are making a protest to the UCI and it could be that the rules are delayed to 2016 or even scrapped says, with LottoNL-Jumbo team boss Richard Plugge saying “you can’t change the rules suddenly in January”.

42 thoughts on “New UCI Points System for 2015”

  1. Quick note to the piece above, today’s bulletin from the UCI lists big changes to men’s racing, there’s nothing for women’s racing, just an upgrade in the points awarded for the Olympic and Worlds TT races.

  2. Brian Holm will probably be happy. When commentating on danish Eurosport he has often complained about the lack of points for riders outside the top 10.

    • No, it’s just emerged. Not sure if the UCI will make a retrospective ranking based on last year’s results as the news has only emerged inside a PDF on a back page of their website. Hopefully they launch the rankings properly soon and we get a proper explanation.

      • If not, we would still be stuck with the winner of TDU as leader of the ranking for the first couple of months. So for this season it would not make that much difference.

  3. I still think that there should and could be a legitimate competition throughout the season. This rejig helps, but it will only be of interest if the UCI makes it interesting. They need to make more noise about the rankings through the season. Make it a bigger deal.

    • Also you still get more points for finishing 12th in a GT (125) than winning a stage (120) or the points/mountains jersey (also 120). So it still encourages riders and teams to be safe and hang onto minor GC placings rather than animate the race.

  4. So what’s happening for World Champs / Olympics rider qualifications? Presumably thats now going to be based on the 52 week ranking which would be another boost for the later season races.

    • I don’t think even the most Aussie of Aussie pros would view victory in the TDU as the be all and end all for their season. At least, I hope that’s the case . . .

      • It’s a way to say the calendar has an equal value but as Larry says, it test the legitimacy of the new system. The moment someone points out that a rider is “only” leading the world rankings because they won an inferior race compared to the second placed rider who won something that everyone regards as better is the moment people will question the value of the rankings.

        Each race has its value and prestigate and a bit like a currency the points need to reflect the correct exchange rate between races.

  5. Reform is a step in the right direction, but this is just plain confused. There are still Worldtour teams and races, but no ranking anymore. They are retaining certain leftover strands from the McQuaid era of organization that just make no sense anymore. To me this looks like Cookson is desperate to shake things up, but is too afraid or powerless to implement meaningful change.

    • There is nothing left over from McQuaid/Verbruggen. UCI has been in planning mode for these changes for a long, long time. Keep in mind that McQuaid’s role as president meant his role was to put the UCI’s Management Committee plans in action. The plan hasn’t changed. Cookson just took over.

      Many more changes coming, most of which will not appeal to longtime watchers of the sport. IMO, the worst will be that the WT calendar races will be “equal.” The points structure is hinting at this. But, it will have a bigger impact in the next couple of years. Paris-Roubaix equal to Tour of Oman, or Tour of XYZ when Omani royalty becomes bored, is ridiculous, but that’s exactly where it’s going.

      • Yes, this is an ongoing process and in a way the points changes help lead to the UCI’s proposed reforms.

        By the way, this year’s Tour of Oman looks set to be the last, or at least the contract is up and new news of renewal yet. A shame as of all the Gulf races this has been the best with varied landscapes and genuine places to visit rather than lapping a half-empty skyscraper.

        • Not a surprise given the price for a barrel of oil.
          Curious to know if the Pro-continental calendar is lighter this year in Russia, or Kazakistan?

      • This is exactly what I have been seeing the last few years, step by step. The UCI and some teams are working towards a totally new sport. Professional cycling as we know and love it, isn’t what they are interested in and somewhere down the road there will come the point where the split or takeover can’t be avoided any longer.

  6. Thank’s. I don’t really know how you find the time to assimilate all this information. As you and others have pointed out, a PR opportunity missed by the UCI.

    I personally still like the idea of individuals deciding themselves who they consider the best rider of the year, and which events are important. Not definitive, but then neither is a points based system. At the end of the day there is no financial incentive or benefit for the riders, so I’m sure most riders won’t be too concerned about the changes.

    • Looking at the UCI PDF I did think it would be a headache to read but reading it and making notes in a blog post is a quick way to get a better idea what the new points system is about. It didn’t take much time… most blog pieces are rushed and first draft only… which explains the typos and why I’m always grateful for reader corrections.

  7. So, win a GT with a long stint in yellow/red/pink, win a few stages, top-3 a few others, get a podium in the KOM and you basically get 2000 pts. You can really clean up at one GT. In that light, the Giro and Vuelta should still be less point valuable than the TdF.

    • I think this new system has the effect of encouraging top riders to shoot for 2 GTs in a year. The Vuelta has benefited of late from injuries/suspensions in terms of attracting top riders, but GC riders chasing points may consider the Tour-Vuelta, Giro-Tour, or Giro-Vuelta double in a given year. Sure, the prestige of the Tour will not be eclipsed anytime soon (I think most of us can name the last 5 TdF winners but not necessarily the last 5 WT points champs), but the new points system makes the Giro and Vuelta more relevant to GC riders in a way that the previous system did not. Seems like it’s good for the sport.

  8. Thank you for this; I don’t know how many times I have seen you use the phrase, “Some PDF buried in the back of the UCI site.” It points both to your tireless efforts and to their collective heads being- well, not able to see the sun.

    No disrespect whatsoever to Aussie friends or those from Oman- but equal to the Hell of the North?
    That is a slap to all the hard men who have spilled on the cobbles.

    Why is it not possible to be innovative without disrespecting the traditions?
    They didn’t get to be called “Monuments” for nothing.

    • Because the UCI is obsessed with “growing the sport”by repackaging the sport’s traditional events.

      Let’s be fair to everyone on the business side. They have to try to make a “new” event every year to keep the advertisers/sponsors signing. I get that. So, as much as I find some course looping and tickets sold to premium areas distastful, it’s okay. In that sense, they must adapt. Resetting the hour rules is another example.

      But, the UCI’s obsession with the “One race to rule them all” some weekends and reducing all production stakeholders to emulate F1 is a dead end.

      The coming changes have nothing to do with tradition or core audience. It’s another reason why the sport will always be a minor sport in most of the world, even in France and Belgium.

  9. If the UCI insist on sticking to this system, am I the only one with a heart-felt enough feeling towards the classics to think they deserve more points than World tour events?

  10. I don’t think that trying to determine which races with the same classification are ‘worth more’ than others is sensible. It would lead to never ending debates about whether one race is worth the same or 1.2 or 1.5 or 2 times another.

    A winner of a race that is seen as special or important will get the fame and respect like always. This is not about that but rather is an additional competition over the length of the season. The person who wins might not have won anything ‘big’ but that’s like one who wins a stage race without winning a single stage – they have been the most consistent over the term in question without necessarily being the best at any one point. To try and make it reflect the perceived value of different races make such a competition redundant as this already happens, albeit unofficially

    • Maybe I’m misunderstanding something but couldn’t one interpret the fact the classics are worth the same as multi-stage races distinguish them as particularly noteworthy and challenging races?
      Rather than concluding that comparing TDU or Oman to the classics is an insult?

    • It feels like a step in similarity towards the ATP rankings, whereby the 4 “Grand Slam” events gve winners the most ranking points, and then you get progressively fewer points for winning other, smaller tournaments – I don’t know off the top of my head, but I think there are 3-5 levels of deemed importance in the tennis tournaments, and so the same numbers of levels in terms of points worth to the victors.

      I think the UCI could (and indeed should) have added in an additional level between GTs and WT races, being the 5 monuments; it’s not a matter of arguing over every race as to which is more important, more that there are certain races that have such a history, and are generally seen as being more difficult to win; these should surely carry with them more ranking points?

  11. A step forward, even if not all is well designed. FE: every team trial gives sharded points to the riders, Only at the world champs tt no individual points are awarded.

  12. For comment subscribers, note the update to this piece:

    Update (Friday PM): if you found it surprising to find these major changes tucked away on a back page of the UCI website, it seems the pro teams agree. Via the AIGCP grouping the teams are making a protest to the UCI and it could be that the rules are delayed to 2016 or even scrapped says (, with LottoNL-Jumbo team boss Richard Plugge saying “you can’t change the rules suddenly in January”.

  13. I would still like to see a few (albeit very few) uci points given for intermediate sprint and kom points. I feel it would make early race action more exciting as breakaway riders would be less likely to give away these points so easily because they aren’t “targeting the jersey”. If I see half a dozen riders roll single file through a “sprint” one more time…

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