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UCI race classifications decoded (a bit)
By Jeff Jones and John Stevenson
One of the most commonly asked questions of our hard working editorial team at Cyclingnews is, "What do the weird numbers e.g. 1.1, 2.3 etc. beside the (road) race names mean?" One of the most commonly asked questions by our even harder working boss is, "When are you going to put a link on the site to a page where this question is answered?"
Five years down the track, here we are:
The UCI has classification criteria that it applies to races, with a classification convention that reflects the type (one day or stage race); and relative importance of the race with respect to UCI points, prize money and the numbers of Division I/II/III teams that are allowed to start.
With the exception of the three Grand Tours, major championships and national level (but non UCI) events, each race typically gets two or three designations, separated by decimal points. The first is either a 1 or a 2, indicating that the race is either a single day or a stage race. The second indicates what type of race it is. Inbuilt into the second designation is the category of rider that can take part: Elite Men, Elite Women, U23 Men, Junior Men and Junior Women.
The Elite Men are given values between *.HC (Hors Categorie, one level below grand tour) and *.6 (a UCI sanctioned race with no UCI points on offer). As explained above, * is either 1 or 2, depending on whether the race is single or multi-day. The higher the numbers, the lower the classification of the race in terms of UCI points, prize money, and number of division I teams allowed to start. Thus, a *.1 race will typically attract a stronger field than a *.3 race.
The Elite Women have just two standard classifications: *.9.1 and *.9.2. Similarly, the U23 men have two classifications; *.7.1 and *.7.2. Junior Men are either *.8 or SC, the latter standing for Super Calendar races which contribute to the annual Junior Men's points score. Junior Women have the *.10 classification, but to our knowledge there is only one UCI junior women's even on the calendar, apart from the World Championships.
2.HC is a multi-day race for Elite Men rated as Hors Categorie.
It should be noted that at Cyclingnews we tend to use 'NE' to designate non-UCI races that are of more than just local significance, such as the USA Cycling National racing calendar series. We freely admit that the distinction is often a little arbitrary.
That takes care of the road, but there are similar but different systems for mountain biking, track and cyclo-cross races.
Mountain bike races have two main categories, D and E, for multi-day and one-day races respectively. There are so few UCI-sanctioned multi-day mountain bike races that it's very rare to see anything but E after a mountain bike race name. As on the road, there is then a number to indicate the importance of the race in terms of prize money and UCI points on offer, and most mountain bike races are therefore designated E1 or E2 with, just this year, a very few EHC category events. There are also A and B grade mountain bike events - the world championships and world cups respectively.
The biggest events on the track are designated CM (world championships) and CDM (world cup) just as they are on the road. But track also has unique designations that identify specialist velodrome events, and you'll often see 6D (a Six Day race), IM (an International Meet) and ISGP (International Sprint Grand Prix) against the names of track events.
Finally cyclocross races are designated C, with the numbers 1, 2 and 3 to indicate the level of prize money and points.
JO = Olympic Games (it stands for Jeux Olympiques, the UCI being a mainly Francophone
A full explanation of the UCI points scoring system can be found here