In our final post looking back on 2019, we take a look at the number of UCI race days that domestic men’s teams participated in. One of the key drivers for teams to register as a UCI Continental team is to access higher-level UCI races – particularly the Tour de Yorkshire and Tour of Britain in the case of British teams. But elite teams can also participate in UCI races, up to .2 level (see our explanation of race classifications here). And as our analysis shows, some elite-level teams raced more often at UCI level than their Continental-level counterparts.
UCI race days – overall
Let’s start by looking at the number of UCI race days overall.
Running a double, occasionally even triple, race programme, Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes packed in more UCI race days than any other domestic team. This was done alongside fielding competitive teams in all of the key domestic race series: the National Road Series, the Tour Series and the National Circuit Series.
Team Wiggins Le Col completed almost as many UCI race days, fielding teams at most of the key U23 races in Europe as well as a healthy dose of senior-level races too. Unlike Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes, they elected not to race a full domestic calendar too – they didn’t ride in the Tour Series for example – but were still competitive enough domestically to qualify for the Tour of Britain. With a focus primarily on U23 riders, their absence will a big loss in 2020.
Next up are two teams that are not UCI Continental registered: the Great Britain Cycling Team and Holdsworth Zappi. The Great Britain Cycling Team is a bit of an anomaly here in that it often fielded a composite team in 2019. Its core squad were the 7 riders on the Senior Academy, but it used another 18 riders in addition (e.g. Ethan Hayter, Sean Flynn, Tom Pidcock and Stuart Balfour). 13 of these rode more than one UCI race day for GB and 7 of them rode 10 or more race days.
Like Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes and Team Wiggins Le Col, the Great Britain Cycling Team rode both the Tour of Britain and the Tour de Yorkshire, helping to boost its race day numbers. With the 10-day Tour de l’Avenir and Giro d’Italia U23 races also on its programme, it’s easy to see how the team racked up very close to 60 UCI race days, even without counting its European and world championships participations, or its extensive track racing programme. Note that the team is reported to have said that they plan to use Senior Academy riders only in 2020. It will be difficult to run such an extensive race programme if they only have a pool of 7 or 8 Senior Academy riders to choose from.
It may be a surprise to some to see Holdsworth Zappi, an elite-level team, so high up on the list. But they have one of the best UCI race programmes around as far as development teams go. It demonstrates that development teams don’t need to register as a UCI Continental team in order to build an effective race programme. Other top developments team such as the Lotto U23 team have also proven this. It’s a model Tom Pidcock’s Trinity Racing can follow next season.
Madison Genesis and SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling are next in the race day league table. Most of their UCI race days came from stage races. Both teams rode the 4-day Tour de Yorkshire and the 8-stage Tour of Britain. Madison Genesis then also rode the Tour de Normandie and the Tour de Loir et Cher. SwiftCarbon also rode Loir et Cher as well as the Polish stage race the Wyscig Mjr. Hubala – Sante Tour. Like Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes, both teams also raced a full domestic racing calendar. Unlike Canyon dhb, however, both teams rode single race programmes and had smaller squads, meaning there was less scope to field teams abroad alongside their British racing calendar commitments.
The Wales Racing Academy may be a surprise name on the list, topping UCI Continental teams Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK and Ribble Pro Cycling. But, as well as riding a good number of domestic races, they also exposed their development riders to see solid stage races in France: the Tour de Bretagne, the Flèche du Sud and the Kreiz Breizh Elites.
Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK and Ribble Pro Cycling are next, lower down the list than their UCI Continental counterparts, in part because they missed out this year on Tour of Britain qualification. Like most other UCI Continental teams, they were also committed to a full domestic calendar, restricting their opportunities to enter UCI races, particularly on a single race programme.
Finally, two elite teams also did more than the UK’s sole .2 UCI race, the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic (the only race in the UK that gives men’s elite teams the opportunity to compete at a UCI level). Spirit Tifosi went to Poland to race the Baltyk-Karkonosze Tour, a race they are likely to return to in 2020. In fact, they appear to have an impressive UCI race programme shaping up for next season from what we hear. And Saint Piran rode the GP des Marbriers in France, a race won by Ribble Pro Cycling’s Damien Clayton.
UCI race days – per squad size
Now let’s looks at how many UCI race days each team did per squad member.
With 15 squad members, Team Wiggins Le Col’s 60 UCI race days meant that they rode an average of 4 UCI race days for each of their riders. The Great Britain Cycling Team is next, although the squad size we gave them – 16 – is a little arbitrary given that they actually drew on 25 riders all told. One could argue their ‘race days per rider’ average should be lower, or higher, depending on your point of view. Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes rounds out the ‘race days per rider’ podium. Whilst they did the most UCI race days, they also had the largest squad – 19 riders – of any domestic team.
UCI races – .1 races or above
What does the picture look like if we only count ‘high-level’ UCI races i.e. races at .1 classification or higher?
Here, Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes come out head and shoulders above their peers with an impressive 42 race days at .1 level or higher. Team Wiggins Le Col, SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling, Madison Genesis and the Great Britain Cycling Team all had similar numbers of ‘high-level’ race days thanks to their participation in both the Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain (both .HC races in 2019). Whilst Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK and Ribble Pro Cycling, on the other hand, only raced the 4-stage Tour de Yorkshire at this level. It’s worth noting that elite-level teams are not permitted to race at .1 level or higher, hence their zero tallies.
UCI races – .2 races
How about .2 races, a level at which elite teams could also participate?
Team Wiggins Le Col and Holdsworth Zappi top the bill here. .2 races are sometimes de facto development races in their own right and even when they include over-U23s, they offer important exposure to senior-level racing for developing riders.
UCI races – ‘U23’ races
Finally, how about ‘U23’ races i.e. Nations Cup races – which only nations can ride – and open U23 races (.2U races)?
Unsurprisingly the development teams dominated this category, especially the Great Britain Cycling Team who had a full plate of Nations Cup commitments. Note, however, that Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes also gave its cohort of 6 U23 riders the opportunity to ride U23 races, arguably a good move to help support their development. It won’t be a trick we’ll see them repeating in 2020 as they won’t have sufficient numbers of U23 riders.
Featured photo: David Hares / www.davidhares.co.uk
Methodology. These rankings include all races that took place in the 2019 calendar year (i.e. not the UCI’s 2019 season, which ran from October 2018 to October 2019). All UCI races included in the rankings are those classified as such in the UCI’s rankings system.
We have included all domestic men’s teams that raced 2 or more UCI race days in 2019.
National, European or world championships are not counted as race days for the purposes of this analysis.
A race day is defined as either a one-day race or a stage in a stage race.