Elite Women at Jingle Cross 2018
Photo credit: Phil Roeder

A Deep Dive into the UCI Cyclocross Rules for 2020/21: Part 1

With the 2019/20 season winding down and the World Cup and World Championships over, we are going to take some time over the coming weeks to look at all the news and information that was released during the World Championships. This includes the 2020/21 rule changes, calendar and World Cup schedule. In this article, we are going to take a dive into the rule changes that were published on February 3, 2020.

A lot of the changes and tweaks revolve around the addition of the Junior Women category and an introduction of a UCI cyclocross professional team. There are additional changes for races who want to be C1 races. The most jarring and significant changes revolved around the World Cup. Along with a new schedule, there are many rule changes regarding the starting grid, other races on the same day, etc.

The UCI publishes both a rule book and a changes to the rules book which can be found on their website. We will be referencing the official UCI chapter, section, etc but will be paraphrasing the changes.

For part one, we are going to discuss the changes to cyclocross events (races) themselves as well as the changes to cyclocross rankings. In part two we will discuss the changes to the World Cup rules, UCI teams and the UCI points table.

Cyclocross Events

5.1.001 – Participation


A majority of the rounds of the World Cup will feature a Junior Women’s race. In addition, many of the major races in Europe and North America will also be adding that category to their program. The UCI rules now dictate that if a U23 Women’s or Junior Women’s race is offered, riders must race in their appropriate age category. Otherwise, they may race with the Elite Women. This is nothing new, it’s just explicitly spelled out in the rule books.

UCI recognized teams 

There is now a team type called a UCI cyclocross professional team. There are more details around this change to follow, but the big news is that these teams may race on the road. There are other things like minimum rider requirements that we will get to later.

5.1.004 – Calendar 

The rules regarding the calendar bring in two minor changes and one significant change.

All UCI events can now offer a Junior Women’s race . Last year, only National, Continental and World Championships could offer the category. They also removed some verbiage so that a Junior Men’s race must be held at any UCI race, except for the World Cups.

The major change revolves around C1 races. Here is the exact qualifications:

An event will only be given or maintained class 1 status if the previous season’s race does not present any major organisational issues and following the UCI’s approval.

This change is massive for a country like the United States. It removes the minimum country and international riders needed to qualify. Last year, the UCI rules forced a majority of the C1 races in the US to fall back to C2. Now, races like Charm City, are back on the calendar with a C1 race. We will have more on this in our look at the 2020/21 schedule, but this major change opens the door for more C1 races around the World.

5.1.005 – Protection of the dates

In response to the massive changes to the UCI World Cup and as a potential nod to C1 races occuring around the World; the UCI allows a C1 to be held the day before or after a World Cup. It does require UCI approval, but this agains opens the door for countries like the United States to have a C1 on the same weekend (just not day) as a World Cup. Other countries like Switzerland and the Czech Republic will also benefit from this.

5.1.043 – The start order of events is determined as follows:

Another massive change, this time affecting the World Championships and World Cup starting grids.

World Championships

For the World Championships, the final World Cup standings will be used to grid the first row (eight spots). Therefore, if you lead the World Cup, you get the number one spot in the grid. The only exception is the U23 Women because they do not have a separate World Cup standings. Instead, they will take the top eight 19-22 year olds from the Elite Women’s overall to grid the first row. This obviously gives more power and importance to the World Cup. Riders will then be seeded by UCI ranking.

In addition, they removed the bizarre gridding for both the Junior and U23 Women. Previously, they used the nation rankings and did a rotating grid positioning. This led to some bizarre gridding scenarios where top Junior and U23 women were being gridded in the third row even though they were in the top two or three of the UCI rankings.

Continental Championships

Continental Championships now follow the same tradition grid structure of UCI ranking. Previously they followed the same gridding as the World Championships.

World Cup

As was hinted throughout the winter, there are major changes (again) to the grid for the World Cup. Last year, the first 24 riders (three rows) were gridded based on World Cup standings. Now, the first eight riders in the standings will be gridded on the first row (this does not apply to the first World Cup race). The next two rows are based on UCI points before things get just downright silly. For the Elite Men and Women, the fourth row (25th – 32nd) will be allocated to riders ranked in the top 50 of other disciplines/rankings, unless they qualify for a position on the first three rows. 

If a rider is ranked in the top 50 of the UCI mountain bike cross-country ranking, they get a spot in the third row, same with the top 50 in the UCI road world ranking. If two riders have the same ranking, they will be placed by drawing lots. 

Here’s the simplified version: if you are one of the top road or mountain bike racers, you can get a fourth row spot at the World Cups. So, a rider like Peter Sagan or Nino Schurter can sign up for a World Cup and start in the fourth row. This seems very gimmicky to us, but it had been in the rumour mill all season, we have accepted it.

5.1.048 – Duration of events

There are only three minor changes to race duration. First, Elite Men’s races must be as close as possible to 60 minutes. This is the existing rule, they just removed an addendum for races that include both Elite and U23 Men. In addition, they removed the rule that during the World Championships and World Cups the Elite Men events must be between 60 and 70 minutes. What we take this to mean is that those races may now fall under 60 minutes. Finally, during the World Championships and World Cups, the Elite Women’s race must be as close as possible to 50 minutes. Again, nothing truly revolutionary here.

Cyclocross Ranking


The events are classified into 17 categories on the basis of the number of points to be awarded. 

The change here is the addition of the 17th category. As we have mentioned, a lot of these rules are because of the addition of the Junior Women’s category. In this case, there is a new points table for C1 and C2 races for the category.


In another major change, the limit on points riders can accrue for their UCI ranking has been removed. With the exception of the Junior Men, all race results now count towards a riders point total. There is no longer the limit of the top six C1 and top eight C2 results. 

This allows riders to accrue a lot more points towards their overall ranking. It also encourages riders to race more so that they do not skip smaller races because they’ve reached the point maximum. This also includes World Cups. For Junior men, they take the best six C1 and C2 races as well as the best five results in World Cups.


This new rule states that any rider who retires will be removed from the UCI ranking 20 days after they retire. Helen Wyman had herself removed this year because she was still top-ten in the UCI rankings, despite retiring. She felt like she was taking up a spot that another rider should be in.

Join the conversation below. Let us know what you think about these changes.

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