2020 UCI Cyclocross Rule Changes

Every year following the Cyclocross World Championships the UCI releases a memorandum outlining rules amendments to Part 5 of the UCI regulations. Part 5 is the Cyclocross chapter in the UCI regs. The memo, dated February 3, 2020, states that the new amendments will be applied starting July 1, 2020.

In the past, we’ve seen changes to how the sport is raced. Rules about planks, 180s, pit exchanges, etc. This year, we have some fairly significant rule changes addressing how the sport is administered. I’ve attempted to highlight the biggest ones in the bunch. There are several more that I didn’t think warranted much discussion. You can see all the rules in the UCI’s original document, here.

Also, check out the latest episode of Cyclocross Radio, where we put the media pit magnifying glass to the rule changes and the 2020-2021 calendar.

The first amendment, which affects rule 5.1.001, recognizes, for the first time ever, junior women as a racing category in UCI events. And that for all events other than World Championships, the elite, U23 and junior women may race at the same time, albeit in separate categories. Organizers can give them separate time slots, but they don’t have to.

For all of these rules, everything in red is new language. Everything in red that has a strikethrough is old language that is newly removed.

Rule 5.1.004 deals with the race calendar and has a significant amendment that affects North American racing. The prerequisite that an event must have “at least 10 foreign starters, representing at least 5 different nationalities,” to be considered for Class 1 status HAS BEEN REMOVED. This is huge for North America, which saw the number of C1 events slashed in the past year after this rule was applied out of the blue after being ignored for years. This change should see the return of multiple C1 events in North America. If the calendar is to believed, Charm City and Kings CX have regained C1 status for 2020 following this rule modification.

The amendment also states that a junior women’s race “can be organized during all UCI events, except the UCI cyclo-cross world cup when decided by the cyclo-cross commision.” It does not say that the junior women’s race “must” be organized, as is the case for the men’s junior category.

Rule 5.1.043, Start Order of Events, is amended to reserve the first row of the World Championships for the first eight riders in the World Cup standings. This is a significant change from the current rule which stages riders based on UCI overall ranking, not World Cup ranking. The rules for World Champs are also amended to get rid of the staging by federation system that was used in this year’s World Champs for the junior races.

For World Cup staging, the first eight riders in the World Cup standings will be in the first row. The next two rows of eight will be staged according to UCI points. The fourth row will be reserved for “wild cards” who are ranked in the top 50 riders in the UCI mountain bike cross-country or UCI road world ranking. [If you listen to the media pit discussion on this, I get it wrong and say it’s top 24 and not top 50. Micheal had it right] This is a change from this past year’s process, which staged the first three rows according to UCI World Cup points and the fourth row on from UCI ranking.

Rule 5.1.048, Duration of Events, is amended to require that world cup and world championship women’s races must be as close to 50 minutes as possible. All other UCI women’s races must be between 40 and 50 minutes. “As close to 50 minutes” is open to interpretation, so I’m not sure what this modification is supposed to accomplish. My suggestion, require all elite races be “at least 50 minutes and not longer than 60 minutes.”

Rule 5.2.004, Categories for Rankings adds a 17th category, a race for women junior C1 or C2 events (where there is a separate event for women under 23 and women elite). Junior women were also added to the World Cup junior category.

Rule 5.2.006, Points Awarded at Each Event, underwent significant changes. This is a big one that gets rid of point buckets except for Junior men. In the past, the best 6 C1 results and best 8 C2 results counted towards UCI rankings. That has been completely scrapped and now ALL results are taken into account for UCI rankings. That is especially good news for North American race organizers of C2 events, especially ones later in the series. In the past, top riders would consider skipping these events if their C2 “buckets” were already full. Now, with all points in play, top riders may consider races they might have skipped in the past.

For junior men, the best 6 results from C1 or C2 events will be taken into account along with the best 5 World Cup results.

The other big change to the World Cup process has elicited cries of anti-Belgian rulemaking by the UCI. The new rules for how national federations select World Cup teams is the recipient of this anti-Belgian, “UCI Killed Cross” sentiment coming from the baby blues. For the past few seasons, every racer who appeared in the top 50 of the UCI rankings had a golden ticket to race in the World Cup. Your federation could not deny your entrance. If you were on the list, you were in. That meant that if 27 Belgian men were in the top 50 of the UCI rankings, each and every one of them could race. That has now changed.

For 2020-2021, if you are in the top 50 you have “pre-qualified for the World Cup race but that doesn’t guarantee you will be on the start line. The maximum squad any national federation can enter into a World Cup category is 12. Every country is allowed to bring up to eight racers. Countries who have multiple riders who have pre-qualified are given extra allotments, up to 12. For countries that have 11 or more racers in the top 50, they must choose 8 of those from the pre-qualified (top 50) list and then they get four “coach’s choice” selections. For nations pre-qualifying 10 racers, there are 8 spots for pre-qualified racers and 3 coach’s choice picks for a squad of 11. It goes down from there.

Belgian men’s racers who are not on a big team, and feel like they may otherwise be overlooked, are concerned that they have invested in point hunting to be assured a spot in the World Cup and now those opportunities have been removed.

Rule 5.3.013, Classifications, changes the allotment of UCI World Cup points, not to be confused with UCI points. World Cup point positions have been cut in half with only the top 25 instead of the top 50 finishers scoring world cup points in a World Cup event. UCI points are still awarded up to 50.

The rule on how many results count for non-elite categories at World Cups has also changed.

There are several other changes to the rules that revolve around the creation of a Professional Cyclocross Team that differs from a UCI Cyclocross Team. The traditional UCI Cyclocross team that must have a minimum of three riders and at least one woman remains on the books. The rule change that was floated, last year, that mandated at least one man be on a UCI Cyclocross team has been wiped from the record, which is a good thing and preserves the opportunity to have all-women teams.

The last big change I wanted to highlight is the change to the points table. It is something that has been rumored for some time. The UCI told us back in June we’d be seeing it soon, and finally 8 months later, it’s happened. Under the new table, C1 elite wins are bumped up from 80 points to 100 points. National Championship elite wins bump from 100 to 150 and Continental Champs winners now get 200 points, the same as a World Cup.

As noted above, this isn’t an all encompassing list of the rule changes, but touches on the hot button changes that are being debated. All of the other rules are available here.

Check out the Media Pit discussion and subscribe to the Cyclocross Radio podcast:

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One thought on “2020 UCI Cyclocross Rule Changes

  1. The new pre-qualification rules for World Cup races should be known as the ‘We Want Wout’ rule. (Or should that be ‘Need’?).
    Due to his injuries and subsequent curtailed racing program, WvA is currently ranked 15th Belgian and would be lower under the new ranking regime. I wonder if the ‘8 top ranked riders plus 4 selected lower riders’ part of the rule change was a last minute panicked addition when someone suddenly realised they had created all these new Belgian World Cup races and had managed to preclude the Belgian crowd favourite from competing!

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