The UCI has confirmed it will back track on the introduction of a new points and ranking system for 2015 after protests from several major teams. The WorldTour ranking system used until 2014 will be kept in place during the 2015 season, while a study of the new rules is carried out.
The UCI's decision was confirmed at the Tour Down Under via the distribution of a letter sent to teams, national federations and race organisers. The letter was signed by UCI President Brian Cookson.
“It has indeed become clear that the new ranking system was presenting teams and riders with considerable problems given that they had assumed that they would be working in 2015 with the 2014 system and had built their structures and planned their seasons accordingly.
“While reiterating our entire confidence in the work carried out by the members of the Road Commission and the “Rankings” Working Group, those concerns convinced us of the merits of a postponement of the introduction of the new regulation to allow all parties to adapt to the new ranking system.”
Serious implications for the future of the WorldTour
The 2015 points and ranking system was set to have serious implications for the allocation of WorldTour licences in the future as part of the expected major reforms of the WorldTour structure.
Points scored in 2015 could affect team's chances of securing a WorldTour licence and wildcard invitation to major races in 2016 and 2017, compounding the fact that teams and potential sponsors have no firm idea of how the sport will be structured in 2017.
The teams claimed they had signed riders and planned race calendar for 2015 based on the old points and ranking system. The teams were also angry the UCI had not involved and informed them of the introduction of the new system. The UCI had quietly revealed the new look 2015 points system in early January, with the rules and points structure hidden away in a general rule update.
The 2015 World Classification was supposed to be a single rolling ranking of riders of all elite and under-23 categories based on a 52-week rolling basis with the rankings updated each Monday.
According to the rules published by the UCI in early January and first revealed by the inrng.com blog, points scored for each race, daily stage victories and days as leader of the various race classifications (mountains, points, etc) are significantly different to the 2014 rankings, with the three Grand Tour given equal points for the first time. A Grand Tour victory awards 1000 points, with other points on a sliding scale until 60th place. Winners of WorldTour stage races and one-day races score 500 points. The best three riders in each WorldTour race score points for the WorldTeam ranking, with the World Team Time Trial Championships also awarding points.
The first UCI ranking update of the year appeared on January 18, with Jose Rujano the first leader of the 2015 World Classification after winning the Vuelta al Tachira en Bicicleta stage race in Venezuela.
Those rankings have now disappeared from the UCI website and have been replaced by a WorldTour ranking, following the 2014 rules. This shows Tour Down Under winner Rohan Dennis (BMC) as the leader of the individual ranking and with BMC leading the team ranking and Australia dominating the nation ranking.
The UCI told Cyclingnews it would be “conducting an evaluation internally of the revised [but postponed] points system by testing its application on the season’s events.”
“The UCI will spend the season gathering the opinions, comments and observations of all its stakeholders concerning the rankings and points scales in order, over the year, to evaluate the new system and to consider any necessary improvements or adjustments for the future,” the UCI told Cyclingnews.