C What?! An Explanation of Cross Race Classifications

We often write our previews, predictions and power rankings using terminology that people may not know or understand. In order to help the more casual cross fan, we’ve decided to write a few posts explaining some of the more integrate details of the sport. Today we are tackling cross race classifications.

You will often see that a race was a C1 or C2. To a lesser extent you will see races classified as CN, CC, CDM, or CM. The biggest difference between the categories is eligibility, prize money and points. Obviously money is an important factor for the riders, but we are going to focus on the points aspect. We will skip eligibility, because that is relatively self explanatory.

Points

Points are very important in cross races since they determine your start position. The more points a rider accumulates, the better their start position. Beyond race classifications, there’s two interesting facts about points:

First, points are calculated over a period of one year by adding the points won since the preceding ranking was published. This means that riders keep their points from the previous 365 days. The UCI updated the results every Tuesday, so riders are credited with points earned from the same day of the previous year through that Tuesday. This can get a little complicated since riders can both gain and lose points from week to week. That will affect their overall total (and start position). It also means that riders in the US can grab a bunch of early season points, but will still start behind many European riders, as they get to keep their points from last year.

Second, there are limits on the amount of points a rider can earn in lower categorized races. Riders are limited to their best six results in C1 races and their best eight results in C2 races. It should be noted that slightly different rules and limits apply to junior and under 23 riders. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the elites.

C2 Races

90% of all races are either a C1 or C2. C2 is the lowest category of cross races, and the most common in North America. This season there are 50 UCI races in North America, only seven of which are C1. In Europe, most races are C1, including all Superprestige and DVV Trofee races. In C2 races, the top ten riders get points. The winner gets 40 points, while the tenth place rider gets one point. The points for C2 races are very top heavy, 66% of the points go to the top three riders.

C1 Races

For C1 races, the top 15 riders get points. The winner gets 80 points, while the fifteenth place rider gets one point. This is where things start to get interesting and why the C1 races, especially in North America, tend to be the focus of a riders season. The third place rider in a C1 race gets 40 points – the same as winning a C2 race. The tenth place rider gets 10 points in a C1 compared to one point in a C2.

Wout Van Aert in the 2015 Spa-Francorchamps Cyclo-Cross

CN and CC Races

The next two categories occur once a year (per nation). A CN race is more commonly known as a national championship. Virtually every country that has a national federation hosts a championship. The points go ten places deep (just like a C2 race), but in this case the winner gets 100 points (compared to 40) and tenth place gets three points (compared to one). With that said, a C1 race still offers more points for more places than a CN, despite it’s higher ranking.

A CC, or continental championship, is rated higher than a CN race. It is more comparable to a C1 race with the top fifteen places getting points. The winner of a CC race gets 100 points (compared to 80) and fifteenth place gets 1 point which is the same as a C1. In fact, on the winner receives more points in a CC race versus a C1. Second place through fifteenth are the exact same in a CC and C1 race.

CDM Races

The next category is a CDM aka a world cup race. This is where the points really add up and a rider can move up in the starting grid. In North America, any rider who has finished a world cup tends to start on the front row of any race they enter because of the points accumulated in world cup races. The winner of a world cup race gets 200 points – more than double that of a C1. The rider finishing eighth gets the same amount of points as the winner of a C1. Finishing in 20th place will get you the same amount of points as winning a C2. More importantly, any rider who finishes a world cup race gets a minimum of five points. 50th place gets 10 points and anyone beyond that gets five. That’s the equivalent of finishing 13th in a C1 and eighth in a C2 (those places actually get four points).

CM Races

A CM race is the granddaddy of them all – the World Championships. As you can imagine, the points are massive. The winner gets 400 points, twice as much as a world cup win. What’s interesting is that the points trail off quickly. A rider in 40th place gets 10 points (compared to 50th place in a world cup). As with world cup races, any rider who finishes gets a minimum of five points.

Conclusion

Hopefully this (somewhat?) brief overview of cross classifications provides insight into the differences between them. It also explains why some riders focus on certain races versus others. Points are super critical as they affect a rides start position. If you only remember one thing remember this: higher classifications mean more points for more places.