UCI Points and Rankings Explainer

Richie Porte has just won the Tour Down Under and collects 500 UCI points, as many if he’d won Paris-Nice or the Tour de Suisse. A rankings system in pro cycling often seems pointless, it’s a synthetic means to compare stage racers, sprinters and others who often only compete indirectly with each other. But UCI points can be a currency and the quest for points is a tactical fact. So here’s a look at the points per race and more.

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UCI Rankings Explained

Peter Sagan pictured on his way to winning the green jersey… and an extra 120 UCI points. With team licences for 2020-2022 partially dependent on UCI rankings, points aren’t quite back in fashion but they’re bound to influence targets and tactics this season. What’s better, wining the Tour Down Under or placing fourth in the Giro or fifth in Tour de France? There’s no right or wrong answer but there is a correct reply if it’s down to UCI points. Win the GC on Sunday for the Tour Down Under and a rider will collect 500 UCI ranking points, more than a rider gets for fourth in the GC in the Giro or fifth in the Tour and a good reason among others why Richie Porte still targets the Tour Down Under. Here’s a closer look at the UCI rankings.

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Ranking the Rankings

Who is the best rider in the UCI World Tour? Peter Sagan, Chris Froome, Alejandro Valverde… it’s Simon Yates according to the UCI rankings. The point here is any ranking is subjective but it’s especially so in cycling where, unlike other sports, the notion of a league table or a points-based ranking is almost redundant. It might even be having an effect on the racing.

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Riders Blocked From Racing

It looks like the perfect picture for a cycling team. A smiling rider stands tall on the podium, dressed in yellow with the team logos in evidence as the girls hold their pose for the cameras. Even his sunglasses are perched just right on the team-issue baseball cap. But there’s something wrong with the picture.

I’m not talking about the composition of the image. You might notice the podium girls haven’t zipped up their jerseys fully but it’s not that. No, the problem here is that Radioshack-Nissan’s Jakob Fuglsang has won a race and bizarrely this could prove damaging for the interests of his team.

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Ag2r’s Iranian rescue plan

For a brief moment in the Worlds on Sunday Iranian rider Hossein Askari jumped away from the bunch. This might be the first time you’ve seen an Iranian cyclist competing at the top level. But the Iranians have a strong team and the Tabriz Petrochemical Cycling Team is second only to HTC-Highroad in the number of wins this year.

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New rankings system: IG Pro Cycling Index

IG pro cycling index

At times this season the word “index” has rhymed with suspicion thanks to the leaked list of Tour de France riders.

But now a far less suspicious index and hopefully a safer way to manage data has arrived: the IG Markets Pro Cycling Index. Cycling’s a tricky sport for rankings because we have sprinters alongside climbers, one day specialists and stage racers. Now that’s all part of the attraction for me. But it’s hard to say who is the best rider in the world and the wider public, not to mention sponsors, often “have to” know who is the best.

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A new ranking system

Giro podium 2010

Team Sky’s co-sponsor IG Markets are going to launch a new rider ranking, the “IG Markets Pro Cycling Index” and it will attempt to reward panache ahead of anonymous consistency.

One of my pet hates is lists and rankings. Things like “Best film ever” or “top-10 dog breeds” can be pointless exercises and often used by newspaper editors to fill pages and generate debate, you can be sure people have opinions and, online, readers will leap to the comments section, thus generating more valuable clicks.

In cycling I find it hard to define the “best cyclist”. Is Alberto Contador better than Fabian Cancellara? Is Philippe Gilbert better than Ivan Basso? These questions are subjective and in trying to answer them we often reveal more about our preferences and biases than the riders’ abilities.

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Ranking points, incentives and race results

I want to pick up a point touched on in this morning’s L’Equipe: are the UCI ranking points influencing the outcomes of races? With several riders in the top-10 overall, Team Radioshack went into the final stage of Paris-Nice in a strong position. Although short, the route had five climbs, some tricky descents and the … Read more

Why the UCI rankings matter

I don’t like lists and rankings, the ordered ranking of riders never expresses the full excitement of a season’s racing. In some sports the rankings matter but in cycling the UCI rankings haven’t taken off as a measure of performance across the season. Yet the rankings matter. As we’ve already seen, nations need riders with … Read more

Team Rankings: Quick Step sinking

Take a look at Cycling Quotient’s team rankings, or see the screenshot below: These are the ProTour teams which explains why the “ranking” column has gaps. Liquigas-Doimo are at the top of the table for now, not surprising given their excellent Giro but they have been taking wins everywhere this season. Now Footon-Servetto are at … Read more