UCI Changes World Cup DH Rules with New Semi-Final Points, No Timed Training & More

May 16, 2023
by Ed Spratt  

After a big overhaul of the rules was released earlier this year, the UCI has gone back to the rulebook to make some more adjustments for the DH World Cup season ahead of the opening round next month. It is interesting to see these changes come shortly after the UCI test event at Lourdes, and we wouldn't be surprised if some of these changes have come from the rider feedback following the 'not-a-race' in France. Check out some of the changes we spotted below.

You can read the full rule amendment document here.

Semi-Finals are Worth Fewer Points

While we still don't know exactly how semi-finals are going to play out and whether it will feel like second qualifying or a second race, we can now see that the points haul has been significantly reduced. Previously, an Elite Men's semi-finals win would grant 200 points, just 50 points less than in Finals. Under the updated rules the same win in semi-finals will now offer 100 points for the winner, 150 points less than a win in finals.

There were worries before that semi-finals could become almost equal to finals in its level of importance to riders but with this update, this will most likely change as it doesn't grant many more points than qualifying.

Old Points
New Points

The Points for a Win are Back to Being Equal for Men and Women

One oddity we spotted back when the initial rules for 2023 were released was the change from the UCI and this year's new event organisers that a disparity between a win in the Men's and Women's racing had been created. Under the previous rules, a semi-finals win would grant an Elite Man 200 points while this was only worth 150 for an Elite Woman. The difference between the categories continued in the finals scoring with a Men's win scoring 250 points and the Women's 200 points.

Protected Rider Status for Finals has been Adjusted

In addition to all of the points changes the new rule update has added some extra statements around which riders will be protected for finals. Whilst the original document stated just three rules for protected rider status the new update has five conditions. The first new ruling is that in addition to the top three Elite Men and Women from the previous season, the best-ranked riders in the current standings can be added (that are not already included) until a total of 5 women and 10 men are reached.

A clause has also been added that if a rider in the first two groups does not confirm entry then the spot will not be filled be a different rider.

Alongside this a specific rule for the first round details that it will be the top five Elite Women and 10 Elite Men from the past season who are protected for the final. This is an increase over just the top three Women and five Men in the previous rule change. These riders will have to start a run in semi-finals but no matter the time they will still qualify. If the times of these riders would have meant they did not qualify then they will not take the place of a qualifying rider and will be added in addition to the already qualified riders.

bigquotesFor the first UCI World Cup round of the season, the top 5 women elite and the top 10 men elite of the final UCI World Cup standings of the previous season are “protected” for the final.

They must start in the semi-final round but qualify automatically for the final in any case. If the times of the protected riders are not among the 10 best times for women elite or the 30 best times for men elite, they shall be allowed to ride in the final in addition to the 10 women elite and 30 men elite riders already qualified.
UCI Rules

Old Protected Status
New Protected Status

No More Timed Training?

The biggest casualty of the new rules could be the removal of the most important event of a racing weekend, Timed Training. In the latest rule amendment, it would appear that rules regarding making sure a Timed Training session exists have been completely removed from the training section. While this may not mean the complete removal of a timed training session with the rule being removed it most likely means it is no longer mandatory at a World Cup round.

Despite the potential removal of this timed session, we will still see the same number of timed runs in a race weekend with the new addition of semi-finals, although it will be sad to see no more early glimpses of who may or may not be going fast at the races.

The death of Timed Training?


  • 181 0
 Ah yes, downhill, that mystical event set far into the future... I hope my children enjoy it when it finally takes place
  • 38 0
 I hope it's sponsored by Brawndo. It's got electrolytes.
  • 14 0
 @bigtim: It's what plants crave.
  • 6 0
 @bigtim: I want a Brawndo water bottle now.
  • 10 1
 @HankHank - my son is racing WC DH 17-18 this year and I'm stoked he only has to manage two trips across the ocean instead of four. The schedule is a HUGE win for reducing travel needed from outside of Europe.
  • 10 0
 @jbravo: Right, I can see how less travel could mean a requirement for less Brawndo. But who would want less Brawndo?
  • 2 0
 @jbravo: yep not sure why they even call it a WORLD cup.
  • 2 0
 @jbravo: Yeah I was seeing that as a positive. Sucks for a spectator but nevermind. Hope the lad goes well!
  • 93 5
 Not sure I care anymore. Just let me know who won the series at the end of the year.
  • 14 0
 When you read this in 8 months time Steve Peat won.
  • 68 0
 But how will we know who's won without timed training?!
  • 5 37
flag scott-townes (May 16, 2023 at 2:41) (Below Threshold)
 Told yall timed training doesn't matter.
  • 3 1
  • 16 0
 Well that settles it. Not paying for No Timed Training+
  • 15 0
 But good on Ed Spratt for his acknowledgement of this.....

"The biggest casualty of the new rules could be the removal of the most important event of a racing weekend, Timed Training"

  • 11 1
 Allen Iverson (the one true AI) is gonna be pissed.
  • 3 8
flag DoubleCrownAddict (May 16, 2023 at 13:53) (Below Threshold)
 Fantasy teams just became much less interesting without timed training. Adjusting the semi final points right before the season starts is clear evidence that not alot of thought went into any of the major changes they have made.
  • 6 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: Do you see where it says 'Fantasy' on the banner at the top of the PB page?
  • 43 5
 All the rounds of qualifying, and still 1/3 of the final is made up of protected riders.
I get the pro teams push for this as it’s guaranteed exposure for their top names; but I’ve never liked it.
It’s taking away chances for people who are best on the day.
  • 40 0
 Read a little more carefully: "If the times of the protected riders are not among the 10 best times for women elite or the 30 best times for men elite, they shall be allowed to ride in the final in addition to the 10 women elite and 30 men elite riders already qualified."

So basically, if a protected rider is not one of the "best on the day" as you put it, then they are added to the back of the pack. The fastest 30 men and 10 women will still race, plus whoever was protected but slower.

Seems fair to me.
  • 5 0
 I completely agree with your sentiment, but actually from Ed’s summary above it looks like they’ll be /extra/ to those already racing. This implies the best thing is for all the protected riders to flunk and we’ll have the standard Top 30 men + 10 Protected. It’s an even better ratio for women: Top 10 women + 5 Protected - 50% expansion.

Someone feel free to correct me if I’ve missed (yet another) caveat that truncates those numbers….
  • 5 6
 My guess is that Dicovery pushed for this. TV audiences don’t like rogue riders, they like ‘names’ they can get behind.
Please note: the TV audience described above is nothing to do with actual DH devotees, just floating viewers and growing the market.
  • 7 1
 @EchoLimaTwoOne: I know people who ride regularly and like dh and have no clue who Loris Vergier is. DH and cycling in general has little to no Q-factor.

I think this is more for people who like their stars. I want to see Amaury do a race run no matter how slow he is today, I dont want to see up and comers or privateers get bumped to see it though.

Either way, im ok with it.
  • 6 0
 @srjacobs: my fault, I didn't read properly. I agree, seems fair.
  • 6 0
 @EchoLimaTwoOne: Jeans guy became pretty famous tho?
  • 2 3
I agree. And to those who downvoted me, fair enough, but it’s how TV marketing works.
I only worked in, er, TV and marketing for 20 years so what would I know, right?
  • 1 0
 @EchoLimaTwoOne: take my upvote because you are not wrong, jeans guy was a random fringe spectacle and probably only popular with PB readers.
  • 33 0
 This could be a good sign that the organizers aren't too stubborn while exploring the new formats, and will switch up what doesn't work.

On the plus side, I found the XC broadcast was great and in some cases better than the past (better be since it's paid).
  • 13 4
 xc was really good. although ric does not have a good voice for commenting. and gracia neither, they both sound more like kids.
  • 11 8
 @Korbi777: Rick is terrible.
  • 10 3
 @CantClimb: that may be true, but we're talking about Ric here.
  • 2 0
 @CantClimb: i mean his commenting is ok and will get better, but his voice has no volume. same for gracia
  • 5 6
 I'm unsure where all the positivity towards the XC broadcast is coming from. I watched it on Swiss public network. They buy the pictures from Discovery, I guess. The graphics and position infos were off to non existent. Even the commentators complained about "the new production company" not delivering. I could go on about boring genetic interview questions, rogue drone shots, etc. For now, it's a change for the worse.
  • 1 0
 @Korbi777: lol i've never heard of a voice lacking "volume" but that is exactly what it is! Nailed it. See Hart.
  • 1 1
 @silvanoe: please compare to the ökk race in chur 2 weeks ago. that was really bad. but nove mesto, honestly was cool. camera on quads, drones following downhill. start from drone high up was cool. barts comment was good as allways. all the important action was on camera, except flückigers toptube ride, that would have been cool to see. and his interview later for swiss tv
  • 31 7
 This all just seems to be getting over complicated. In its simplest form it's all about getting down the side of a mountain the quickest. Why did the UCI feel they needed to get a hold of DH and mix it all up and still can't get it right. I maybe getting old but all these changes and the broadcasting situation is loosing a fan here.
  • 22 1
 Wait til they bring in mandatory pit stops.
  • 11 2
 Hard agree. Dh should be "who can get down the hill the fastest?" not this weird tv friendly mess Warner Brothers are turning it into
  • 8 1
 @gabiusmaximus: It's still very much "who can get down the hill the fastest" it's just 100% make or break it on one run, but rather two. Fastest man/woman in the last run wins, just like before.
  • 4 15
flag enduroNZ (May 16, 2023 at 3:52) (Below Threshold)
 @gabiusmaximus: and all the riders should do it for free too, and we shouldn’t have to pay to watch it either, and the manufacturer’s shouldn’t care about selling bikes. What has the world come to?!!
  • 4 0
 @BenPea: Mandatory 2 different tire compounds per race
  • 1 1
 The number of people who think of racing as nothing more than a marketing opportunity to be monetised is truly mind blowing. It would be funny if it wasn't so utterly depressing. It used to be that sponsors supported racing, nowadays it seems like racing just supports the sponsors.
  • 1 1
 It called progress gramps. People just don’t like change. Give it a chance ffs
  • 1 0
 @CamNeelyCantWheelie: I prefer to refuel my Ethanol fuel tank between DH runss, don't see why the pros wouldn't do it either
  • 23 2
 Let them race the full series , then decide on the overall winner by the amount of insta followers they have .!!!!
  • 4 1
 !!! gonna make a few alt accounts to upvote you more.
  • 18 1
 What happened to the riders union?
Did they have their say with this year's format?

Also: Did someone already find a site that re-streams the finals?
  • 5 0
 At least on Youtube, the UCI channel shows.
  • 5 0
 Union probably played a part in getting these changes.
It's what the media would call a "U-turn" or even a "humiliating climbdown".
  • 5 0
 @mcharza: The recap video is interlaced! I haven't seen that in 15 years!
  • 2 0
 Gwin talked about it on "Making up the numbers" podcast recently. He is the elected head btw . Riders wanted fewer protected riders or none.
  • 15 0
 This whole thing better knock my socks off when it finally gets rolling - I'm starting to lose interest.
  • 12 1
 Well timed training was there for the Fantasy League and since that was also removed....
  • 9 1
 The rules should say "go down the hill"
  • 2 0
 That would be great. I could become World Champion. At least, if nobody else realizes that the new rules also allow you to show up with a jet-powered vehicle.
  • 2 0
 @ak-77: that sounds like innovation to my UCI Board members
  • 2 0
 @ak-77: no offense, but I’m not sure that would help you much against these riders.
  • 2 0
 @stevemokan: m.pinkbike.com/news/video-rob-warners-1995-race-against-a-rally-car.html
If Rob Warner can be defeated by a rally car, surely I stand a chance against Bruni if I strap myself to an unloaded cruise missile.
  • 2 0
 Without any rules there would be small motors, skin suits, fairings, and possibly wings that could allow flight over rocky sections. And PEDs...
  • 1 0
 @Snowytrail: I dont really think fairings and skin suits go against the spirit of bike racing. They are already tailoring their clothes to borderline skin suits for aerodynamics.
  • 7 0
 I hope this doesn't change the cathro shadow racing line choice/ time videos, though I know it is likely.
  • 1 0
 I agree! I think Cathro does such a great job with these, I always look forward to it.
  • 6 0
 Can someone summarise the format of a DH race weekend, as I'm a bit lost now...
  • 3 0
 Qualification on saturday, sunday morning semi-finals and then the finals.Or depending on the schedule, friday and subsequent saturday
  • 4 0
 Sign autographs at team tent, party hard AF the night before finals, and barely make it to your start time. Not sure which days.
  • 5 0
 What was the reasoning for the points difference between men and women? The number of riders in the field perhaps?
  • 9 27
flag danstonQ (May 16, 2023 at 1:38) (Below Threshold)
 Sexism, simply.
  • 5 0
 @wburnes, as you suggested indeed. You need more points if you've got more people competing and you need to differentiate between the top finishers in the finals. If you have fewer riders there, you need fewer points to make that difference. You could multiply all those points by three and the women will end up with more points than the men. But you'll just have bigger numbers to work with, it won't change anything about who eventually wins the overall.

@danstonQ : Sexism would be in prize money and media exposure. And yeah, that's a valid point too. But the points awarded for the race results, not so much.
  • 10 6
 @danstonQ: lol seriously ? When you have 5 riders capable of going for the podium and probably 1 or 2 to win the overall, giving a lot of points to absolute non-contenders seems quite silly. Compared to a men's field where you have 10 guys capable of winning the overall and probably 20/25 to win a race on any weekend, so it is more fair to give more points further down the ranks to provide more chances to equally talented riders to ranks well in the overall. Pretty logic but you always have virtue signalers to call sexisme and whatnot everywhere. If the women's field was a competitive, with as much riders it would make sense to have the same points and system, but it isn't, by any stretch of imagination. And I am not saying women are not as good or entertaining, but Elite field is 10 times smaller, just facts.
  • 8 4
 @Balgaroth: Did you read the points table? The women's points still drop off faster than the men's after P3. This supports your argument. The illogical (and sexist) thing was awarding the female winner fewer points than the male winner. The points scale is completely arbitrary, so the only thing you acheive by reducing the women's top score is forcing them to feel like their win is worth less.
  • 4 11
flag housem8d (May 16, 2023 at 2:20) (Below Threshold)
 @Balgaroth: a big reason why the women’s field isn’t as deep is because of….hmmm…they’re not programmed to take risks?

sarcasm off.

it’s obvious that sexism has played a huge role in discouraging women from pusuing things that seem “unfeminine”…but the last years have been encouraging; the talent is really growing
  • 7 10
 @housem8d: that the fable that every one goes for yeah. But in reality women are not as goal driven as men and usually don't enjoy racing as much as we do. Now that is a small sample but from all the girls we have in our group, some being really good riders, most of them don't care about racing and just want to ride and have a good time, wereas most of the guys do at least a few races each season and many take part in one or many full racing series. It might be that the girls in our riding group have been raised in a gender specific way but if that was the problem you would see a lot of women racing in Sweden, Norway and such, yet most WC riders are from countries that a far behind the gender neutrality way of raising kids so I have a hard time believing this is the reason why we see so little women engaging in racing (or any/most competitive sports).
  • 9 4
 @Balgaroth: Here is LE mâle Alpha. Believe him (believe in his beliefs), praise him (goal driven true men need that), hug him (because a goal driven true man ego is fragile and easily offendable).
  • 1 2
 @Balgaroth: You think women in Scandinavian countries are raised to compete more in mountain bike races? Gender equality isn't necessarily spread evenly among different areas of society. I'm from The Netherlands. In cycling, at least road and cx, we rule the roost when it comes to female riders, performing way better than the men. In my also traditionally male professional field (physics) women are not doing nearly as well.
Even if it were true that Scandinavia has relatively more women competing, there aren't many competitors from those countries in the top male field so even if ratios were more equal there it would not immediately show up.

It is true that in most current societies, women are less competitive and goal driven, less interested in natural sciences, and less likely to take big risks. I firmly believe that a big part of that has nothing to do with innate properties but there is a self-perpetuating aspect where women don't do mountain biking (or fill in any other male dominated activity) because there are hardly any women that do mountain biking.
  • 4 0
 @Balgaroth: Funny thing is, a goal is only a goal if you define it as such. You can define a goal as something independent (like wanting to do a manual for the length of your street) or something relative (like, being the first to cross the finish line which you have achieved if the rider in front of you gets a mechanical and you've failed when the rider in front of you doesn't). Apparently I (as a male) have a female mindset as I indeed set goals for myself but don't care whether that's better or worse than someone else. With all the (nationalist) ego that can surround big sporting events, female participation in sports has become a weird one. In cultures where there is a lot of discrimination of women, often it were the men who got to study and recreate whereas the women had to stay home and work. So few women got to the point where they could compete. It were typically the more wealthy countries where women (even though still discriminated) could find time and resources to also engage in sport and become competitive. But winning at the Olympics got such a nationalist ego thing that a medal is a medal and some countries found that there was more low hanging fruit in the female field. So some countries like Russia and China put some girls under a very strict training regime so that they were sure to collect lots of medals. A lot of physical and mental abuse for the sake of medals at the Olympics. To this very day, female athletes from the DDR (former Eastern Germany) whose lives have been destroyed still haven't been compensated. Either way, back to modern day cycling sports. First of all, it is resource intensive so cycling competition is mostly available to the more wealthy countries. Obviously in The Netherlands (where I live too) pretty much everyone as a kid learns to ride just as a means to go places. To school, the shops, to wherever you want to go and be independent. And luckily, traffic and infrastructure for cyclists is relatively safe here too. So if you enjoy riding bikes, there is no way to not know it. You don't have to discover it. Just like running, you're already doing it and you might realize you want to do it even more. Plus riding a bike is as socially accepted as walking whereas in some other countries women riding bikes is being frowned upon. Anthill is about to release this "The Engine Inside" video in which also covers the fact that in some places, women riding bikes have to face a lot of adversity.

So yeah, long story (sorry again) but I just think more ladies from The Netherlands compete on bikes because they are on bikes already so it is easy to find the spark. And they are on bikes already because the culture is there and the infrastructure is there. I don't however think women are less goal driven by any means. Look at the number of women fighting for the environment, against repression, work hard to realize a dream or just indeed to be better than a direct competitor.
  • 2 5
 @ak-77: did I say that women in Scandinavia were raised to compete more ? I just said that kids in these countries are not raised in a traditional gender way, yet it didn't really change the way kids evolved in the end, if I remember correctly there is some data showing that it had the opposite effect actually. Source: www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/the-more-gender-equality-the-fewer-women-in-stem/553592
This was as a response to @housem8d who was saying that we don't see many female athletes because they were discouraged to embrace "unfeminine ways".

@danstonQ I mean coming from someone who's name says "in your as*" and can't debate with actual argument and just try to be insulting I guess I should take that as compliment. Feel free to share your opinion and arguments that would disprove what I am saying, otherwise I don't see any reason to discuss with a ideologist dumdum 3 :-*
  • 5 0
 No time training? What will we talk about ?
  • 2 1
 I actually liked the fact there would be higher points for the semi finals, you get basically two races in a weekend. In fact, I'd be in favor of a format like in some winter sports with two heats and added time for the winner. On the one hand it favors the rideres that are consistently the best, but it also promotes an all-or-nothing approach for those willing to take extra risks in the last run.
  • 2 0
 that 60 minute day-of-final practice is going to be a scheduling problem......especially for those places running slow lifts or remote pit areas...
  • 2 0
 Always been the same. 1 hour of practice race day morning
  • 1 0
 Can someone explain the daily breakdown of qualies, semi-finals and finals? I bought tickets for race day but I am getting unsure of what am I actually gonna watch..
  • 1 0
 Regarding the points difference between men's and women's for same finishing position,is this just reflective of the number of competitors in both fields?
  • 9 6
 #savewomenssports is the rule change the UCI needs.
  • 3 3
 Hopefully will see logic and common sense, but not till August 2023. road.cc/content/news/uci-defends-transgender-policy-will-reconsider-rules-301047?amp
  • 2 0
 Will these points be used in fantasy, or will that be calculated differently?
  • 1 0
 Those charts are impossible to read. For example, it shows qualie points at 200 off 1st at one point, which was never a thing.
  • 1 0
 So does this mean that the only training time provided will be on the morning of quali's?

"One day before the final a training period will be provided"
  • 2 2
 how long until enduro and downhill become one?
  • 1 1
 @owl-X: downduro?
  • 1 1
 Can someone ELI5 what a protected rider is? It sounds like what they mean is "people know their name so they have to race no matter what"
  • 2 0
 People who are entitled to race even if they didn't post a sufficiently fast time in the qualifying round.
  • 2 0
 Do they really expect juniors to race with only one practice?
  • 2 0
 Two practice sessions as always. Length of practice for juniors has not changed
  • 1 0
 @DH0123: I read this as riders are only guranteed one practice session before qualifying.
  • 1 0
 Kinda like F1 doing the sprint weekends..good to have more options to get points..make all that travel $/time worthwhile.
  • 1 0
 As long as they don't start allowing men to compete with/as women I'm good with it.
  • 1 0
 Today is a really good day for Nina
  • 2 1
 UCI being UCI....
  • 1 1
 PB in 2023: The whole front page covered in race results…
  • 4 5
 All of this is for naught if Rob isn’t leading the broadcasts.
  • 1 3
 Timed training was worthless. Good on them for cutting that excess baggage.
  • 1 3
 WTF see the DH sking format just copy the you lemons.
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