The UCI Management Committee met in Doha, Qatar during the 2016 UCI Road World Championships – and agreed some significant regulation changes across the track disciplines.
A review of track cycling – focused on the UCI Track Cycling World Cup and Track Cycling World Championships and was apparently designed to improve the ‘competition narrative’ and create ‘even more spectator-friendly racing’. A “subcommittee of diverse experts” made a series of recommendations to the Track Committee, which resulted in the following regulation changes.
- General regulations
- Riders are now forbidden from wearing tinted visors or glasses in the track centre at televised events
- Riders will no longer have to ride Repechages to avoid disqualification
- The list of mishaps that can result in a race being re-run or a rider being given laps out has been clarified to include only ‘legitimate’ falls
- A 30km Women’s Madison will be introduced to the UCI World Championships
- The rule for a gained lap has been brought in to line with Points Race (20 points) and points are awarded every ten laps.
- Points awarded in the final sprint have been doubled to keep the race in play until the final sprint
- Points Race
- Points awarded in the final sprint have been doubled in line with the Madison
- As has been widely reported, the new competition format will consist of four bunch events (scratch (10km for men, 7.5km for women), tempo race (10km for men, 7.5km for women), elimination and points race (25km for men, 20km for women)) which will all be held on the same day
- The first three events will result in omnium points – 40 for 1st, 38 for 2nd, 26 for 3rd and so on to 20th – then 1 point for all remaining riders
- The Tempo race will see 1 point awarded to the leading rider on lap 5 and on every subsequent lap. Riders taking a lap will gain 4 points. Lapped riders will be removed from the field and lose all points.
- A new format allows more riders to participate (28 instead of 24) while slightly reducing the length of the tournament
- The four athletes with the best qualifying times skip the 1/16 finals and go straight to the 1/8 finals
- The seeding changes with the fast rider contesting the round of 16 – the 5th fastest qualifier – facing the 17th fastest, the 6th fastest facing the 18th fastest and so on.
- The fastest qualifers face the mid-field in the 1/8th finals – the fastest rider facing the winner of the 10th-22nd heat, second facing the winner of 11th vs 23rd etc
- The losing quarter finalists will be ranked 5th to 8th based on their qualifying times
- Kilometre and 500 metre Time Trial
- Two athletes will ride simultaneously on the track during qualifications
- Finals will be held individually in the evening
- The sprint distance will be increased to 3 laps to make the race more tactical, with the pacer leaving the track after the pursuit line on the home straight
- Riders will take up position behind the pacer based on the draw
- The rules about overtaking the pacer have also been altered with riders now required to stay behind the leading edge of the front wheel of the Derny – rather than the rear edge of the rear wheel – before the pacer passes the pusuit line
- Team Pursuit
- Two teams will now ride simultaneously on the track in the qualifying heats
- There will be no more finals for 5th & 6th places and 7th & 8th places (except in the Olympics)
- Team Sprint
- A first round has been added to bring the Team Sprint in line with the format of the Olympic Games and similar to the current Team Pursuit format.
- At the completion of the lap, the leading edge of the leading rider’s front wheel must cross the pursuit line before the leading edge of the following rider’s front wheel
UCI President Brian Cookson said “While it is important that we safeguard the essence of our cycling disciplines, we also need to be brave and embrace change in order to give our sport real meaning to those who are watching live or on screens across the world. The changes announced today show that we are moving with the times to ensure that our disciplines are presented in the most compelling way possible, and are rooted in the desire to attract and inspire even more fans into cycling.”
Regulation changes are always controversial – and usually quickly forgotten about. We were convinced that the Elmination race would be a disaster in the Omnium – and we couldn’t have been more wrong. But here’s our initial thoughts on the latest changes.
The addition of the Women’s Madison – trialed at this summer’s Junior World Championships in Aigle this summer is the least controversial of the changes. The return of double points at the finish of the Points Race will be welcomed by many – although it was removed because it effectively turned a close race into a Scratch with everything coming down to the final sprint. And while adopting the same points system for both the Madison and Points Race will make both easier to understand for spectators, there is a real danger that it will fundamentally change the nature of the Madison and reduce the excitement by downgrading the significance of gaining a lap.
Dropping the timed events from the Omnium means that – unlike athletics’ decathlon, with which it is often compared – it is now a pure endurance event, rather than a true all-round test. The UCI suggest that it will bring a “better balance” to the track programme but it also creates an Omnium with three very similar events.
The changes to the Keirin could also change the nature of the event – with an extra half lap potentially encouraging riders to slow up after the Derny pulls off, effectively creating a match sprint and rendering the first 5 laps almost pointless. The Derny pulling off on the home straight is also going to create some problems for photographers at the finish line! And the changes in the regulations governing passing the pacer appear, on the surface, to be harder to judge than the outgoing rules – although easier to comply with and more likely to be covered by a camera.
The Time Trials, too, will require a different approach. Riding two Kilos in a day is obviously going to be physically demanding, but tactically, getting enough out in the heats to qualify, with enough left to challenge for a medal compounds the problems. Rumours of ‘short’ qualifying – 750m for men and 375m for Women – don’t seem to have made it into the regulations.
The addition of a First Round to the Team Pursuit was unpopular at the time but seems to have been accepted – although we don’t think anyone will miss the 5-8th Finals – and its addition to the Team Sprint will probably be the same. By contrast, the changes to the Team Pursuit are minimal – although two teams on track during qualifying will require accurate seeding to ensure safety and fairness.
Finally, the modifications to the Sprint competition are slightly more controversial. They reward the fastest qualifiers and (slightly) increase the (minimal) chances of the slowest qualifiers progressing to the later stages, but they do make it (slightly) harder for the rest of the top half of the draw to progress and easier for the middle. The fifth fastest qualifier would have traditionally faced the 20th fastest – now they will face the 17th – with the 16th fastest – who would have been up against ninth, will now line up against 28th…
We suspect that there are other reasons for the changes than simply improving the ‘competition narrative’ and creating ‘even more spectator-friendly racing’. We think they’re designed to get more track cycling events into the Olympics. Let’s hope it works.