Master’s Cyclo-X World Start Positions

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Yesterday, it was printed in lots of places the proposed start and call-up procedures for the Master’s World Cyclo-X Championships in Louisville this winter. I’m still smarting from my fiasco in Belgium in January, so the subject is probably a bit closer to home for me than some of you. But, that being said, I think that it is an insult to Master riders throughout the World to say that a random start order is fair.

The random start order is going to be used only if the field size is less than 80 riders. If it is more than 80 riders, then they are going to run a qualification race. I pray for more than 80 guys in my race in Louisville this winter. I doubt any of the women’s fields will have that number, so they are going to get jacked in the process, no matter what.

Here’s a quote at from Philipe Marien. I’m not sure if Phillipe has no respect for Masters riders or is just ignorant, but here it is-

L W: This past year the promoters for our nationals used a time trial to seed riders for the starting grid. Have you had problems / complaints in the past with the way you’ve seeded riders at your event? Do you have any thoughts on other approaches to seeding riders? Should it simple be a lottery system?

Phillipe Marien: We always have used the lottery system, this is the fairest way to draw the starting order. In this particular category it is very difficult to gather an official national team or to check who is national champion or not. Each year there were some complaints from riders but that’s normal.

So, he says that the fairest way to make the starting grid is to randomly pick it. And that the UCI has no method to check to see who is a National Champion. Both these statements are so stupid that he shouldn’t be involved in the processs, ATMO.

In cyclocross, the start is so important. That is a given. The start order in the Master’s division is more important, if anything. There is so much diversity in ability levels that the race is chaos already. Throughout the year, Pro/Elite riders travel throughout the world collecting points that make their starting positions better. It happens here in the United States for the starting position at the National Championships and every UCI race, including the World Championships, the start is decided by points you’ve gathered throughout the season. But, according to Phillipe, this isn’t fair? He says the fairest way is to “randomly pick it”. Bullshit.

The problem here is that this group of consultants/promoters/cyclo-x “experts” have no respect for Masters. So, they put no thought process into the issue. Show me another Cyclo-X Championship that is lined up in this radom order. The reason for the random order is because the Worlds in Belgium was a local event. You couldn’t even pre-register. So, let’s leave the status the same because the last promoter was lazy?

I understand that it is very difficult to rank Master riders on a worldwide basis. But, it is important to make an effort to do so. Here’s some of the things they need to do.

A certain number of riders need to have preferred call up positions. The top riders from the previous years World Championships for one. You pick the number. I don’t know how we can attract any of the best riders from Europe to travel to the US for this event without throwing the riders that competed last year a bone. I talked to quite a few guys in Mol last year and not one said they would come to the US to race.

Current National Champions too. There won’t be that many and anyone that goes to the trouble to win their Nationals and then travel to the US to race the World Championships, isn’t a bad rider and deserves a call-up.

Then a time trial to seed riders, like we did in Bend last year. This isn’t perfect, but it will at least get riders close to where they need to start. But, that takes effort. A qualifying race is just dumb. There are way too many things that can go wrong in a qualifying race. If you have a problem during that race, they are saying you’ll get to race again to get back in through a Consolation race. And line up at the very back of the Worlds once again. Wrong again.

Kevin Hines was lined up at the back of our race in Belgium. The very back. I was only 1/2 way back. Kevin barely made it to the top ten and he was going good. He’d finished 2nd to me at Nationals and 2nd at the Worlds the year before in Mol. And had to start at the very back of the race the next year? Stupid. Insulting. Amateur.

If the US is going to promote this event, then they can’t let important issues like this go unaddressed. And, if they address them, they can’t come up with solutions that aren’t solutions at all. It is an insult to all of us.

15 thoughts on “Master’s Cyclo-X World Start Positions

  1. Jonny Bold

    You hit the nail right on the head Steve. They (the UCI) have no respect for the Master’s athletes. There were certainly problems with the way the race was run in Mol, but I suspect with this ignorance in place and WAY more racers toeing the line in Louisville, we’re gonna see the problems multiply greatly.

    Mol’s “random” system wasn’t all that random anyway. The officials there are a strange breed, they almost exude laziness and the attitude that you better not question they’re tried and true traditions. Here we seem to have mall cop mentality, and our officials are eager to spew venom on anyone breaking the simplest of rules in the slightest manner. It’ll be interesting to see how they mesh.

    I’ve been pretty outspoken about this subject, but I have to admit that USAC did a pretty good job last year in Bend. The TT put strong riders like yourself and Don Myrah at the front of enourmous start grids where you belonged, and they got most of the riders out of the way BEFORE they got lapped. I hope they can do something close to that at Louisville.

  2. DavidR

    Amen. If the governing body of our sport does not govern well, then what good are they? Your righteous anger is coming through loud and clear; let’s hope the right people are listening. With the continued expansion of Master’s categories, the UCI and USAC need to not only work on better and fair seeding procedures (that should really be codified, just like the non-Master’s categories), but also to re-examine the notion that just anyone can enter. I would have no place in a Master’s World Championship race, yet I could (technically) enter; as you’ve said, “that’s just stupid”.

  3. thurlow

    I can’t understand why you guys are even complaining about CX. See what they did to Master Road Worlds.It’s no longer a race replaced by a” Grand Fondo”.They will get around to telling us how they are going to pick the winners sometime in the future. But in the mean time there qualifing races going on with huge sanction fees paid to the UCI.Small potatoes arguing over start order when on the road the haven’t decided on how to pick the winners.

  4. BH

    I got an idea, how about we ask USAC to go to bat for us and kindly ask UCI to let them use a TT since it worked well last year. Maybe we need to start a riders union for masters, talk of that may scare someone to make some changes.

  5. TC

    They also need to make the race longer. Didn’t you only have a 30 minute race at worlds last year? That is not hardly enough time to sort out the details. From the gun the lap counter says 5 to go.

  6. Jean-Marie

    @old guy: Interesting. Does anyone know when the fiscal year begins for USA Cycling? I’m not 100% sure how this stuff works, but if USAC delays the upcoming elections until July 1, wouldn’t that potentially put those elections into the forthcoming fiscal year, which would allow the existing board to continue to make decisions about governance and budgets?

    USAC has pulled these kinds of governance tactics more than a few times in its recent history. The board has used classic, corporate leveraged buyout tactics to overpower the existing governance in order to satisfy the interests of those in power. The makeup of the newly-approved board of directors is a joke: wasn’t the USAC Development Foundation originally run by the current CEO? And ostensibly the four independent directors that would be elected by the board would be elected based on their willingness to cooperate with the board. As it is, USAC successfully convinced the membership at large to relinquish their voting power in the very organization that is there to serve them.

    I could be totally mistaken about all of this, but I don’t have a good feeling about any of this news from USAC. Again.

  7. Tlea

    World Masters Cycling Federation has been formed as a result of the UCI’s decision to “reorg” the masters road worlds. Masters don’t need the UCI to award a title and jersey. The WMCF will be awarding a world championship title to the road and tt winners as they have for the past 40 years. Maybe WMCF should think about a cross worlds as well. But if we really want a true cross worlds with more than a handful of internationals – it cant be in the US nor should it be the week after our nationals. I think I heard that master racers still have jobs!

  8. bob

    Steve you are correct things need to be nailed down with a little common sense. All categories men & women need to be seeded. Do something along the lines of top 15 from previous years worlds, then use a TT for the remainder of the seedings. this assures the participation of good riders as they will be close to the front.
    Also by running a TT say two days before your race allows time for seeding properly and also gives local business a few more dollars from each rider.

  9. dirty_juheesus!


    The current management of USAC is run by Weisel and the Stapletons. The mismanagement goes largely unreported. Members are apathetic too. Bad combination.

    I suspect Tailwind has been in deep moral hazard territory, essentially using the federation and the USACDF as seed revenue for capturing profits in related ventures. (ex. rider agent fees)

    BH, USAC is the UCI’s proxy in the U.S. ‘Fist in glove.’ There’s no ‘fighting’ with the UCI. As such, USAC’s interests are UCI’s. That means grassroots cycling suffers while they continue their failed search for the next Armstrong that can transcend the sport.

  10. flyn' pharmacist

    I vote for the one lap tt. At least this will separate the contenders from the pretenders to some extent. I can appreciate a seeding process , but as you found out last year, that can suck for a new guy in the age group. As far as masters in general, I am also noticing a trend of promoters to either reduce the payout or even have no payout at all for the masters classes. Its also interesting to see how large the masters classes are becoming at alot of races.

  11. johnnyj

    Hey Steve.

    Playing devils advocate here: So if random is so horrible, then why do you go to Belgium to race?

    About the categories, you need to inform yourself. It is not legal to keep out Cat 4s due to the Stevens Act in the US. It states that you cannot prohibit Americans using different standards than foreigners. The US is the only country with Categories.

    At least it sounds like random in Louisville will be really random as opposed to Euro Random.

    I also heard that few Euros will come but then again, they never travel do they? Even Niels Albert does not race outside of Belgium.

  12. Ritchey_Breakaway

    I have a fairer solution for this whole call-up system, and it comes from motocross. What needs to happen is that the start area needs to be off the main course and widened enough to accommodate 50 riders, not 8. Before your race, you pick a number for your chance to select a spot on the line. If there are more than 50 riders, they line up behind the front row. The start straight is 100 yards long, funnels and turns into the main course. The whistle blows and everyone has a chance to get the holeshot. Even if you did do call ups, it would be to select the best position on the line–then you have to earn getting into the lead by getting to the first corner before everyone else. With 50 rider lines, the farthest back you’d be is 4 rows (200 riders).

    What do you think?


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