Louisville Master’s Worlds/USAC Ranking Again

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Okay, I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but the line up procedure at Louisville is just plan wrong. A lot of us were talking up at Jingle Cross about the estimated amount of participates at the Master’s Worlds in Louisville and the opinions differed a lot. Some said that they thought that there will be more Master riders in Louisville because they don’t want to go up to Madison and race in the snow. Others thought that more guys would show up in Madison because of the other categories and wanting to travel with, and watch friends race.

I’m sticking with my belief that there will be less participates in Louisville than were at last year’s Cross Nationals in Bend. I’m not sure if there are going to be as many as in Madison, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is if there are over 80 riders in a category. I looked at the list of participates of the race at Bikereg.com and they are about 30 guys signed up in each category. I don’t really see it getting up to 80 in most. And I really don’t care much about most, I care about mine and can’t imagine that happening. So it goes back to “the most fair way” according to the organizers and the UCI, which is random draw. And I state it again, how stupid is that? A race that does not take any ability level into consideration, then lining up the starters in a random order, and calling it the World Championships is nuts. I still have no comprehension why the organizers think that introducing a random element into the start will assure the race to be the most fair. Maybe they missed the memo that all you do is to buy a license to race. Virtually anyone and everyone that desires can to it.

I’m not sure if I saw a foreign rider on the list, they are kind of hard to recognize by name. (I’ll have to go back and look more closely.) But, for sure, the majority of riders, by miles, are going to be from the United States. It’s still a month and a half away, so I sure wish someone from the organizing group or USAC would realize that it is an insult to all participates of the event, ie master riders in general, to have such a lack of interest in the event that they could screw up something this important and then just leave it.

I am perplexed why someone in charge doesn’t address this problem. Either have every rider participate in a time trial or just line the American riders up by the USAC ranking points, which they are doing for the Nationals the week before. They could let the foreign riders have their random draws and the US guys would line up according to their US rankings. The USAC seems to think that is the fairest way to run their National Championships, but the World’s organizers and the UCI think not. Even though 95% of the riders there are going to be from the US. Seems like someone has to be mistaken here. But, no matter how much I complain, I realize that there is very little chance that anything is going to change here. It’s a shame because it would be so easy.

Now to the USAC rankings. I’ve been following the rankings somewhat and realized it would take the majority of the season for there to be enough points for the formula to work. And it might take all of this season until next season for it to finally stabilize. I’m not sure about using the rider’s three best races in a calender year for the points. To me that seems like too few. I’ve been noticing that if a large group of riders keep competing against themselves in a local area, they just keep driving their ranking score lower and lower, which is really ranking them better according to the USAC. So, 10 guys, any category, could get together and race only against themselves throughout the year, every weekend, over and over, and eventually be the lowest ranked riders in the country, if they just switched their places around each race. I doubt that would ever happen, but the system seems to be a little strange.

I received an email responding to some of my questions from the USAC and I was told that the computer re-tabulates the rankings every Monday night. So I waited until Tuesday morning to check mine out. Below is my rankings from cyclo-x this year. I don’t understand why they fail to use my lowest three scores to get to the ranking number. Maybe someone could email and tell me why that is. If I have math mistakes on my rankings, then I assume there are lots of other mistakes. This thing only has to be completely correct by the first week on January, so I hope someone is paying closer attention to the whole mess than me and is addressing the situation sooner rather than later.

22 thoughts on “Louisville Master’s Worlds/USAC Ranking Again

  1. Chad

    Totally agree with this Steve. I’ve noticed that in order to get your national ranking higher, it would be better to finish dead last in an elite race than to finish upper mid pack of any masters race. In fact, when the organizers of Jingle Cross asked some of the Cat 2’s to move to the Elite race, a few of us realized that we might get a higher national ranking just by finishing last in that race.

    Also, if they have fewer than 80 riders for Worlds, why don’t they still hold the heat races on Thursday/Friday to determine starting order?

  2. Andrew Coe

    Steve – I think there is a bug in the USAC calculation where it doesn’t take two low scores from the same event to make the “current rank points” calculation. I saw this earlier in the season on my score as well.

  3. james

    It sucks, but I think the lack of interest/caring on the part of the organizers has to do with the fact that the number of people affected just doesn’t matter to them. Other masters athletic events can seed based on time – running, triathlon, swimming, etc.

    If you opened the Ironman World Championship to ANY age-group amateur, they would have a ridiculous amount of entries…not just 50 from the ENTIRE world (which is probably the average field at this year’s Master’s Cyclocross Worlds)

    My guess is that USA Cycling looks at the 400-500 cyclists that will compete and says “that’s just not enough to give a real crap about figuring out a seeding system”. I don’t agree with it, but it’s probably reality. Good luck, regardless.

  4. myles

    There is only one way to do it. Single lap TT seeding.

    Either that or a loin cloth clad battle royale. But no one wants to see that crap.

  5. tilford97 Post author

    Chad-I agree that running heat races for everyone would be another option. I say run a heat race if there are over 20 riders. That is the reason I started racing the Master’s races at Nationals to start with. I think that it is an advantage racing on the course before the “real race”.

  6. Reid

    I don’t understand why they don’t even do the bare minimum for master’s world- if you’re National Champ in your age group you get called up. Or even podium- it might just call up 3-9 guys but its something more than just anarchy.

  7. Ritchey_Breakaway

    I’m still going to disagree with you and state that the call up system is inherently unfair. And, the USAC points system is flawed insomuch that they only take into account USAC sanctioned races.

    I am hoping for >80 fields so there will be qualifying rounds. The low number of current entries is probably because anyone who doesn’t already have a USAC international license (like me) is waiting for December to buy them and the entry fee doesn’t go up until a couple weeks into the month so there’s little motivation to enter until then.

  8. Pete Webber


    This oughta get you fired up…

    The reason (I think) that your 3 lowest point races are not used to calculate your rank is because USAC has decided to only count one race from an “event”. So if the whole weekend is under one event permit, only one race may be used for point tabulation. In your case, only your lowest Jingle Cross result is used, the others are thrown out. Other readers may also find this to be the case in their own rankings, especially is their two lowest scores are from a USGP weekend, such as Fort Collins for us Colorado guys. A friend and I have been trying to get USAC to change this illogical policy, but so far no luck. See below for an email on the topic…

    From: “Mahoney, Tom”
    To: Brian Hludzinski
    Sent: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 2:01 PM
    Subject: Re: CX Rankings, license # 16334 ?

    Hey Brian-

    The reason that your rankings are acting like that is because of a fail safe in the rankings program that prevents the rankings from being artificially inflated. We were seeing that a lot of the rankings were getting lopsided because the same people were winning a lot in the same weekend against the same people. So to prevent this from erroneously slanting the rankings we built into the system that riders can only use one ranking score from a given event to help their overall ranking total in a given discipline.

    We launched this Thursday night, and we haven’t had time to update the FAQ with this information.

    Tom Mahoney
    USA Cycling
    Results, Rankings & Registration Manager
    210 USA Cycling Pt
    Ste 100
    Colorado Springs, CO 80919
    [email protected]

  9. tilford97 Post author

    Pete-That pretty much explains it. I understand the principle of the USAC the “fail safe” concept, but it is completely illogical when applied towards races such as USGP or UCI races.

    Plus, changing the way the scoring is done in mid season seems a little fishy too. I know that there is not a really good time to do this, but after the season seems fairer.

    Thanks. I’ll send Tom an email to voice my opinion.

  10. Landon

    I was wondering the same thing about how points are determined. Some relative weak races had better ranking scores than other tougher races. It’s weird. If my 2 USGP races were against the best competition and got the lowest scores why not count them both? Guess I need to figure out how to play the system.
    Random staging for Worlds Masters is just about as logical as having CX nationals in Madison in January. Doesn’t make sense.

  11. tilford97 Post author

    Jim-I’m not going to disagree with you about the call-up system being fair or not. But, compared to random the call-up system is a much, much better choice. Nothing is perfect, not even time trials, but random is just an insult and a joke.

  12. braaaap!

    I am all for a lottery for starting position and gold hot pants for the “winner”, just like Single Speed Worlds. it’s masters racing for crissakes, take faith in the fact that USAC even supports Walter Mitty racin’. they don’t have to

  13. devin

    I still can’t figure out how the new system for the MTB points and placing nationally is calculated..

    For national events and world events with all the travel and prep,, that goes into it.. Call ups and start positions need to figured out in a fair manner.

  14. Dude

    How about lining up in order of registration?

    Every time I think it’s 2011, and there’s data everywhere you look, I run into this. Brilliant!

  15. Bruce Bell

    Thank you Peter Webber for the explanation of the flawed USAC ranking system. While USAC thinks of “events” in terms of permit #’s, their constituents correctly view “events” as races, regardless of whether they occur on consecutive days promoted by one entity. While a racer may have a good weekend and win both days, there are plenty of examples of racers having a good day followed by a better day, or visa versa. It doesn’t make any sense to penalize that racer by not acknowledging both results. What are they thinking?

  16. jwrab

    I think they should use the TT for the seeding. Then call everyone to the line in reverse order (i.e. slowest first). That would make for some real racing!!

  17. Sean

    This is making it’s way around the interweb, so it’s obviously a concern. Any idea about how it was handled in Europe previously? Also, assuming there will be Euros, how would they be folded into the USAC point system?

  18. Sean

    “…for all the years the Masters Worlds were in Mol, Belgium, the call-up was by random draw of numbers, didn’t even matter if you were a defending World Champ. ”

    Remember, we’re hosting, not creating or “fixing” this event.

  19. Mike

    OK – For ALL you NON-Math Majors out there…

    The USAC Cycling Ranking System is the best statistically ranking system I have seen.
    (Of course, working far superior on the LOCAL racing scene than on the National Level)

    Even with that said, it is still pretty darn good and being tweaked now and again to improve.

    I can even PROVE that the “Event” idea is better for rankings than every individual race.
    (Provided of course during a 3-Day Race – same riders, ride same categories all 3 days)
    I’ve run tests on a simulated computer database to verify the reason Tom Mahoney from USAC gave in an above comment is accurate. He’s correct and reasoning is valid.

    Regarding they should base rankings on more than 3 Best Results.
    WRONG! Keep it at the 3 the Best Events. IF you live in the Kansas City Area and race every single cyclocross race in a 100 mile radius you’d have the chance to race about 11 week-ends. Of the 511 licensed KS/MO cyclocross racers, their lucky to be racing 5 to 7 races. The “SUPER STARS” of cycling (Cat 1 – Racers) probably race more often. But let’s see how many of them exist. 7 Cat 1 racers in the state of KS have raced at least 1 cyclocross race and 9 Cat 1 racers in MO. Only 11 of those Cat 1’s have raced more than 4 cyclocross races. IF we were to base rankings on like 10 races only about 10% of licensed riders would be accurately ranked.

    USA Cycling had a previous ranking system that was absolutely terrible based on 10 races. Do you know how many licensed Cat 4/5 riders even rode 10 Crits, 10 TT’s, 10 Road Races in a summer? The percentage was small – very small. I vote to keep “3 Best Results Per Event Week-End”!

    Anything is better than random call ups at Nationals, whether it be USAC’s Ranking System, the rider’s category or what appears to be best a Time Trial lap on the course or similar course near by. I hate random call-ups – shouldn’t the riders EARN their place?

    And last but NOT least – will there ever be a perfect ranking system? Of course not! It’s like saying who’s better, Mark Cavendish or Andy Schleck? It wouldn’t matter who was ranked what – all we would have to do is look at the course: Sprint Finish-Mark Over 3 Mountains with Mountain Top Finish – Andy. Need I say more?

  20. Pete Webber

    Mike – Yea, I can see what you are saying about the 2 or 3 day events statistically, however the reality is that it isn’t possible to apply this consistently. How can the scoring system identify which races should be considered too similar to warrant throwing out? The only criteria they are using now is that the races are filed under one permit. But a promoter could just as easily file two permits and voila, both races are scored. Similarly, why should riders who may only be able to attend a few races be penalized by having some scores thrown out? That was our situation in Colorado, where the USGP weekend in Fort Collins was the only USAC-sanctioned races in our region, and both days were really needed by the riders seeking points. This is also true in other regions like Oregon.


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