Qualifying Spots for World CX Championships

2012 Cyclocross Worlds Koksijde - Swiss and Belgian Fans

The 2013 World Cyclocross Championships will be held outside of Europe for the first time and in Louisville, Kentucky; USA. A great move for the expansion of cyclocross outside of Europe and representative of how much the sport is growing in the US. But it seems people aren’t quite sure on the exact rules that govern the selection of riders for worlds, or how many each country qualifies.

2012 Cyclocross Worlds Koksijde - Swiss and Belgian Fans
Will the US Worlds have the same fan atmosphere as European based events?

Let’s start with the rules that govern how many the UCI allows to go to worlds, then move onward to the rules that govern the US side of things.

The UCI’s rules for participation in Cyclocross Worlds are governed by rules 9.2.042 to 9.2.045

9.2.043 – The maximum number of riders per Men Elite’s national team shall be determined by the final classification by nation of the UCI Cyclo-cross Classification for the preceding season:

Nation ranked from 1st to 5th 9 riders, with 6 to start
All other nations 8 riders, with 5 to start.

In the other categories, the number of riders per team is limited to 8, with 5 to start

So the top 5 ranked countries can nominate up to 9 rider and have up to 6 riders to start the World Championships, but countries ranked 6th and lower are given only 5 start places. This means that Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Netherlands and the USA each get 6 starting positions in the Elite men’s race.

For the Women there is a maximum of 5 starting positions regardless of country rank.

9.2.044 – The national federations concerned may additionally enter the outgoing world champions and the leaders of the final UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup standings Men Elite, Men Under 23, Men Junior and Women.

This rule is where Belgium is able to enter those additional riders and confuse people. They automatically get an extra place for this year’s out-going World Champion Niels Albert, but also the winner of the World Cup if he is Belgian and not Albert. Potentially giving the Belgian team a selection of 8 riders.

9.2.045 – Each federation shall be required to include the following riders in their Men Elite’s team, as long as they are in the top 50 of the UCI Cyclo-cross Classification as published after the national championships in Europe:

federation with a selection of six riders:its first three ranked riders;

federation with a selection of five riders: its first two ranked riders.

This rule shall not apply to riders who have failed to fulfil their obligations under the regulations. In the event of a dispute on this issue, it shall be the responsibility of the National Federation to decide whether the rider will be selected.

For the US, this means that under these rules that Jeremy Powers (11th), Tim Johnson (17th) and Ryan Trebon (18th) would all have been automatic qualifiers last year. Two riders with the potential to shake up this top three selection are both Jamie Driscol and Jonathan Page, both of whom have ridden well enough to be ranked in the top three Americans, but also top 50.

For the US selection, their Cyclocross Selection Criteria, is fairly straight forward.

Elite Men – Eligible Participants: USAC International License Holders; Age 19 and over – Maximum Start Positions: 6

Athletes may receive automatic nominations to the team based on the following prioritized criteria:

1. Any athlete placing in the top three (3) at the prior year’s World Championships in the same event and category. In order to maintain their position on the Team, the eligible athlete(s) must continue to demonstrate the ability to finish in the top three (3) at the WorldChampionships during the current racing season. This evaluation will be based on results from major international competition and current ranking on the appropriate UCI IndividualClassification. If more than one rider meets this criterion, then the rider with the highest placing will be nominated.

2. Any athlete with a top-five (5) finish in a UCI World Cup event between the dates of October 21, 2012 and January 6, 2013. If more than one athlete meets this criterion, the athlete withthe highest World Cup ranking as of January 7, 2013 will be nominated.

3. The winner of the 2013 National Cyclo-cross Championships provided that race is held in its entirety and run under UCI regulations.

4. The top-three (3) ranked athletes on the UCI Individual Rankings as of January 14, 2013 provided those athletes are ranked in the top-fifty (50) overall.

5. Any athlete with a top-fifteen (15) finish in a UCI World Cup event between the dates ofOctober 21, 2012 and January 6, 2013.

6. The athlete with the most accumulated UCI Ranking Points from the following 9 UCI Category 1 events. If any of the following UCI events are downgraded from UCI C1 race status that event will not be used as a selection race. If any race not on this list is upgraded to UCI C1 status it will be added in this list.

  • Cross Vegas, Las Vegas, NV, September 19, 2012
  • USGP of Cyclocross Planet Bike Cup, Sun Prairie, WI, September 22, 2012
  • Grand Prix of Gloucester 1, Gloucester, MA, September 29, 2012
  • Providence Cyclo-cross Festival, Providence, RI, October 6, 2012
  • USGP of Cyclocross New Belgium Cup, Fort Collins, CO, October 13, 2012
  • Harbin Park International, Cincinnati, OH, November 4, 2012
  • USGP of Cyclocross Derby City Cup, Louisville, KY, November 10, 2012
  • The Jingle Cross Rock-Rock 3, Iowa City, IA November 18, 2012
  • USGP of Cyclocross Deschutes Brewery Cup, Bend, OR, December 8, 20127.

7.  If positions remain, then riders may be selected by the USA Cycling coaching staff following USA Cycling Principles of Athlete Selection (www.usacycling.org).

Rule 1 is not applicable since Belgium dominated ALL the top spots at last years world championships and the last (and only) Elite Men podium was Jonathan Page in 2007. The second rule get’s a little more interesting as a top-5 is not unthinkable, but quite hard for most of the US Elite men riders. Last year the rule included any top 15 in a World Cup, but since this years Worlds would be very in demand I think the selection committee went with more strict rules.

Rule 3 gives priority to the soon to be crowned National Champion. This would be the most secure way for a rider not currently ranked in the top 3, riders like Page, Driscol, Wells and maybe Jones, to guarantee themselves a place at Worlds.

Rule 4 goes back to the UCI rule we talked about earlier, If an athlete has qualified based on the first three rules there is a very good chance, because of the weighted points of World Cups and World Championships, they also meets this qualification.

Rule 5 is where those on the bubble can guarantee themselves a place at Worlds. Top 15 in a World Cup is not an easy task, but has been done several times by different riders currently in the running for Worlds selection. With World Cups in Plzen and Tabor, Czech Republic, Koksijde and Zolder, Belgium and Roubaix, France there are plenty of chances. Riders who want to try to qualify this way need to be ranked in the top 200 (in order to be selected) and have a very good day on the bike.

Rule 6 brings us the most complicated, but best chance for what will likely be 1 spot left after the first 5 rules. The best ranked riders out of the 9 C1 UCI races will be able to qualify for Worlds. This is some serious travel, but going to all 9 events, with consistently high rankings (especially if one is able to crack a top 5 at a couple) should give a rider enough points to be ranked at the top of the table. Currently with only two events you have three guys who will likely be on the bubble, Chris Jones, Tristan Schouten and Brian Matter all scoring points, but there are still 7 races to go in a long season.

Rule 7 is the good old coaches selection. A good reputation, some friends and some solid results will certainly be the trifecta to gain a spot via this position, but I don’t think it will happen becuase of the desire of athletes to race Worlds in the US.

Panorama of 2012 World Cyclocross Championships in Koksijde
Panorama of 2012 Hegers Dunes section of Koksijde Cyclocross Worlds; over 67,000 fans were at the race!

The Women’s selection is basically the same as the mens with the exception of the Rule 4 which requires a top-10 in lue of a top-15 and there is no automatic qualification for the top 3 ranked riders. Top 15 was quite achievable for several girls last year, but pushing the bar up to 10th is going to leave a few girls looking to qualify via the US races rather than a great top-10 at a World Cup.

For the Women’s side I’m predicting the obvious choice of Katie Compton with most likely Kaitlin Antonneau and Amy Dombroski both qualifying based off of a World Cup result (both pulled off a top-10 last year). That leaves two more qualifying spots (unless Katie Compton wins the overall of the World Cup (rule 9.2.044), in which case there would be three remaining places). Those are going to be hard fought battle between the likes of Georgia Gould, Meredith Miller, Nicole Duke, Mo Bruno Roy and Teal Stetson Lee. I’m sure theres going to be another wildcard contender in there, but we’ll have to wait to see how the season progresses.

For the Men’s side I’ll go ahead and make my prediction for the first 5 qualifying spots being Powers, Johnson, Trebon, Page and Driscol. The final spot is most likely to go to Chris Jones in my opinion, but with strong competition from Todd Wells. My underdog picks for the final spot are Tristan Schouten and Justin Lindine. Both have had great rides in C1 events in the past and could qualify via their C1 points this year. Others to watch include Dylan McNicholas and Brian Matter.

It’s still early in the year and a lot can happen. There will be quite a race within the races happening as guys are fighting for even minor off podium spots this season, with the potential that even a single point can be the difference between going to Worlds or watching it on TV.