News for January 31

Copenhagen Six - Third Night Standings

 1. Bruno Risi-Kurt Betschart (Switz)                   134 pts
 One Lap Behind
 2. Jens Vegerby-Jimmi Madsen (Den)                     151 pts
 3. Urs Freuler (Switz)-Pierangelo Bincoletto (It)      139 pts
 4. Silvio Martinello-Marco Villa (Italy)               133 pts
 5. Danny Clark (Aust)-Etienne De Wilde (Belg)          127 pts

The Whats What of Elites and Espoirs

Heres a recap and expansion of the new UCI regulations on cycle racing categories and the races members of different categories can participate in. ***The basic male categories*** The former distinction between professional and amateur riders is abolished, the fundamental categorisation now being based on age: youngsters (boys) -- under 16; juniors -- 17 and 18; espoirs (hopefuls, aspirants) -- under 23; elites -- all riders over 23.

Note that riders under 23 who have contracts with what the French call groupes sportifs (essentially the old pro teams) are regarded as elite riders.

How do we distinguish among the elite?

The groupes sportifs are divided into two divisions: ---Division 1 consists of the top 22 teams ranked by UCI points (this year as of January 15 1996); ---Division 2 consists of the remaining groupes sportifs.

Each country is empowered to organise the remaining elite riders as it pleases and this will obviously vary in line with the way the sport is structured in a particular country. In the UK, for example, the British Cycling Federation has prepared a listing of individual elite (including fomer "pros" and top amateurs), first, second, third and fourth category riders. Promotion within this ladder (and between categories) will be on the basis of race results. (In practice, this ranking -- at least in using this nomenclature -- goes against the spirit of the new system, since everyone over 23, however humble their performance, is supposed to be called elite!)

In France, to give another example, this is recognised in the terminology used, with the rest of the "elite", beyond the two divisions of groupe sportifs, divided into: Division Nationale 1 consisting of 12 top clubs whose members could respectably mix it with the groupes sportifs; Division Nationale 2 consisting of 30 important clubs whose field of play will be restricted to what were formerly the top-level amateur races; Division Nationale 3 consists of about 50 clubs at a lower level; Other clubs consisting of the former French category 3 and 4 riders.

(If anyone has information on how other countries are organising this set-up,it would be interesting if they could post what they know.)

Who can ride what?

---The three major tours (Tour de France, Giro dItalia, Vuelta a Espana) are open of right to the 18 top teams in the 22-strong Division 1, with wild-card invitations making up the rest of the fields.

In the case of the Tour de France, one of the four wild-card places is reserved as of right to the French team, if there is any such, that is placed highest between the 19th and 22nd place in Division 1.

I dont as yet have information on the wild-card selection processes in the Giro and Vuelta.

---World Cup events are open to the full complement of 22 teams in Division 1 as of right in the first instance. Any shortfalls up to a maximum of 200 riders (effectively 22x9-man teams = 198) can be filled by Division 2 teams. (Note -- most -- probably no -- World Cup races have universal appeal for all 22 Division 1 teams.

I suspect that teams in the home country of a particular race are favoured in filling the gaps, assuming that there are suitable groupes sportifs available -- for example, no suitable British team could be found to fill any gaps in the Leeds International Classic and presumably no Japanese ones to fill gaps in the Japan Cup race);

---Category 1.1 (single-day) and 2.1 (stage) races are open to the Division 1 and Division 2 groupes sportifs that particular race organisers choose to invite;

---Category 1.2 and 2.2 races are open to Division 1 and Division 2 groupes sportifs, plus a maximum 20% of teams of national elite selections (what would have made up in the past, for example, national amateur teams);

---Category 1.3 and 2.3 - as category 1.2 and 2.2 but with the maximum national elite selections set at 30%;

---Category 1.4 and 2.4 races are open to Division 1 and Division 2 groupes sportifs plus a maximum 50% of high-level clubs (in France this would mean Division Nationale 1 clubs being able to participate in races that were formerly reserved to pros or were first-category open races);

---Category 1.5 and 2.5 races are open to Division 1 groupes sportifs up to a maximum of 30% and Division 2 groupes sportifs, the total maximum for these two categories being 50%. The remaining 50%, at a minimum, must consist of clubs or national elite selections;

---Category 1.6 and 2.6 are not open to the groupes sportifs. They are exclusively for high-level clubs (in France, for example, the Division Nationale 1 and 2) and national selections;

---Category 1.7 and 2.7 are races reserved for espoirs (under-23s), for example the former amateur Paris-Roubaix and former amateur world championships.