Thursday, August 13, 2009

Another Look at Worlds Qualification

Thank heavens for astute (and polite) readers!

As someone commented after Wednesday’s post, I seem to have overlooked something in my discussion of the UCI's procedure for determining the number of starters for each nation in the Worlds road race. In a nutshell, the UCI World/Pro Tour ranking is only used to determine the first 10 qualifying nations for Worlds (I got that wrong by saying it was used for more than 10 nations). After the first 10 on the World ranking, the various Continental rankings (which can be quite different) are used to determine the rest of the field. In most cases, this doesn’t pose a problem in regards to the solution I proposed, but in Europe's case, it most certainly does. So let’s revisit!

As discussed earlier, these are the first 10 nations on the UCI’s World ranking:

1. Spain 1334 pts.
2. Italy 910
3. Australia 710
4. Germany 661
5. Russia 590
6. Luxembourg 563
7. Belgium 505
8. Great Britain 462
9. Norway 414
10. USA 389

All 10 of these teams qualify to start 9 riders in the Worlds road race. As for the rest of the European qualifiers, the first 16 teams on the UCI Europe Tour ranking also qualify—excluding any teams that have already qualified via the World ranking. Here though is where things get a bit vague. Perhaps it would be best to quote the UCI regulation itself:

“The first 16 nations of the classification by nation of the UCI Europe Tour on 15 August 2009 [qualify for participation in the World Championship road race] excluding the nations qualifying via the world classification: the first 6 nations qualifying can enter 9 riders, with 6 to start; the nations ranked 7th to 16th can enter 5 riders, with 3 to start.”

What’s vague is the “excluding the nations qualifying via the world classification” part. Are we to take the Top-16 from Europe and then exclude those that have already qualified; or do we first exclude those that have already qualified and then take the Top-16? I’m interpreting it as the former as opposed to the latter; thus taking the Top-16 and deleting those already qualified via the World ranking.

So here’s the first 16 teams in the UCI Europe ranking:

1. Italy*
2. France*
3. Netherlands
4. Spain*
5. Germany*
6. Belgium*
7. Slovenia
8. Poland
9. Russia*
10. Portugal
11. Ukraine
12. Denmark
13. Great Britain*
14. Estonia
15. Norway*
16. Austria

*Nations in the Top-10 in the UCI World ranking

Now we need to delete the teams that have qualified via the World ranking, thus leaving us with the following nations:

1. France
2. Netherlands
3. Slovenia
4. Poland
5. Portugal
6. Ukraine
7. Denmark
8. Estonia
9. Austria

Of these (if I’m reading it right), the Top-6 get 6 riders in the road race and the rest get 3.

The biggest loser here has to be Denmark, which now only gets 3 starters (as our reader rightfully pointed-out).

And remember too, that there are still other ways for countries qualify based upon the ranking of their individual riders--there's a list of them here.

But let’s go back to the Pavé adjusted ranking, shall we?

Under the Pavé system, these are the Top-10 nations in the World ranking:

1. Spain
2. Italy
3. Australia
4. Germany
5. Russia
6. Belgium
7. USA
8. Luxembourg
9. Norway
10. Netherlands

The list remains largely unchanged aside from the Netherlands replacing Great Britain (sorry, blokes!). Now we delete the European nations on this list from the Top-16 of the UCI European ranking and get the following:

1. France
2. Slovenia
3. Poland
4. Portugal
5. Ukraine
6. Denmark
7. Great Britain
8. Estonia
9. Austria

Like before, the Top-6 get 6 starters, the rest get 3.

So under the Pavé system, the Netherlands now brings a full team to Mendrisio by jumping into the World ranking's Top-10. Denmark jumps from 3 to 6 starters, and Great Britain loses 6 starters, dropping waaaay down the ranking.

Is my method fair? Maybe not, but I feel it’s a better system than the one being used now. An even better solution might the way points are weighted in Pro Tour races, as another reader suggested, or to just make Worlds a trade team-only event--yet another suggestion from Pavé's commentators.

No matter what, I hope you appreciate the revised attempt at setting the UCI straight. And thanks to whomever set me straight; it gave me something else to think about during these dog days of August.

Now back to your comments!

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