UCI Announces Wider Recognition for Junior World Cup Racers

Feb 1, 2013 at 4:20
by Simon Paton  

The UCI recently announced a rule change for junior riders racing the World Cup series that will ensure the wider recognition and higher participation of riders at all future UCI World Cup events. This new ruling is great news for young riders coming up through the rankings, as there will potentially be more sponsorship deals on the table and more attention paid to their results.

In the past, at UCI World Cup events the junior racers were not separated from the elite field and raced on the same course in the same category. Many obviously struggled to qualify in the top 80 with such a strong field of riders, and were not able to take a race run on Sunday. Now the juniors will race before the elites in their own category and have their own separate podium.

jnr womens winner and future star in the making

Tahnee Seagrave on her own on the podium.


From the UCI RULEBOOK:
At the world championships and the world cup events, separate junior events are organized for men and women juniors.
The first 5 men juniors and the first 3 women juniors of the last UCI DHI individual ranking of the preceding year can decide whether they want to race the entire World Cup season as elite or junior. All other junior riders must race the World Cup season in the junior category. For World Championships and World Cup events, separate junior results (apart from exceptions above) will be established.

Here is the list in ranking order of qualified junior atheletes:
Junior Women: Tahnee Seagrave, Marianne Ruud and Holly Feniak.
Junior Men: Richard Rude, Dean Lucas, Phil Atwill, Jure Zabjek and Gianluca Vernassa.

We are currently waiting on clarification from the UCI on the following: We believe if any of these juniors decide to race elite then they will forfeit their chance to race the World Championships as a junior, which would be a massive blow and a potential decision stopper right there for them to move up a category.

Loic Bruni of Lapierre coming home as the fastest junior at the Pietermaritzburg UCI World Cup DH. And placing 27th overall.

Loic Bruni, 2012 Junior World Champ, racing at Pietermaritzburg where he finished in the top junior spot, 27th overall.


For all other races on the international calendar, the UCI points are awarded in relation to the rider’s time and not to their category. To ensure that this rule is correctly applied, only one combined result needs to be sent to the UCI. When a junior downhill rider scores the best time at the national championships, (s)he must wear the elite jersey. The junior jersey is not awarded in this case.

This could cause a massive upset at National Championships as we could potentially see a junior take home the jersey/arm band leaving the elites without a title on their resume, plus loss of prize money and ranking points. From an organizer's point of view, all juniors and elites would have to be seeded together.

The above new ruling has several ramifications and there is nobody better to quiz on this than Trek World Racing and IMTTO President Martin Whiteley, therefore we asked him a few questions regarding the matter at hand.

Regarding this new ruling, will the points from juniors racing junior level at World Cups be allocated to their UCI Trade Teams points, therefore boosting the team's World Cup ranking?

I believe only juniors that have opted to race in the elite category (the top ones that get invited to move up), can count World Cup team ranking points towards their team. World Cup team ranking points are only awarded to the top 30 men and 20 women in the elite race anyway. But you need to clarify this with the UCI MTB Department. I have no juniors on my team this year so I haven’t fully investigated this.

Is this a good ruling? Where did it come from, and who pushed for it?

Chris Ball pushed it and I understand the reasoning. A large number of juniors travel to these races but very few get through to race the final on Sunday. This can be discouraging. So in order to give them a race on Sunday against riders of their own age, and also to free up the numbers a bit in the elite race, this solution was reached. Personally, I think we could go one step further, almost as Moto GP does, and have three classes, and therefore three races on Sunday. Start with juniors (men and women) in the morning, then the men ranked outside the top 60 or so (call them World Cup 2), and then the big final, World Cup Pro, Men and Women. Needs work but it means more races, more excitement for the fans, and a way for talented riders to come through easier.

Will we see a three man podium for the seniors now?

It will remain five for 2013, but the UCI keeps pushing to change it. The teams and riders are completely against changing a 20 year history in our sport of having five rider podiums. DH does not benefit from Olympic status or extra government/National Federation funding like XC, so it needs whatever it can to promote its riders and sponsors. We love being able to say we got a podium at a World Cup, it’s a great headline, and potentially 10 teams can tell their sponsors and fans that each week. For juniors they have already decided only three, and as it’s a new category we were unable to argue the history angle. I believe if the UCI keep pushing this three rider podium “because it looks neater” for them, the riders and teams will stage boycotts.

Saracen's Phil Atwill Crosses the line at Fort William - picture courtesy of Sarah Barrett.


Are the UCI World Cup events wanting increased rider participation at their events now? On average at each round of the 2012 World Cup series we only saw 175 riders on the hill, broken down as follows:
Rd 1 Pietermaritzburg 134
Rd 2 Val di Sole 226
Rd 3 Fort William 173
Rd 4 Mont-Saint-Anne 155
Rd 5 Windham 162
Rd 6 Val d'Isere 228
Rd 7 Hajfell 148


That's more of a question for the likes of Mike Jardine or Rare Management who organizes the Fort William World Cup, but I believe that an attraction for any organizer is an increase in the number of hotel beds and restaurant tables filled so as to attract more local tourism support. More spectators, supporting families etc, all good stuff.

Also, to help further boost attendance, the UCI are allowing each federation to send in an additional six junior and elites riders both male and female that do not have the required 20 UCI points to race a World Cup. That is potentially another 24 riders per country adding to the entry field, in addition to any junior riders on a UCI trade team already.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThis can only be a good move from the UCI for every junior rider out there looking to make a name for themselves and receive additional sponsorship and support at the World Cup level. No longer will the big UCI trade teams have their fingers crossed for their single junior rider to roll the dice at the annual World Championships for their bets to pay off. They can now hopefully reap the rewards several times a year for a minimum outlay. The only two negatives we can see would be for an elite racer being left high and dry in favor of a junior rider. The second point is with an increase in rider participation will we undoubtedly see a drop in riding standards at our premium series. - Si Paton

photo by phunkt.com

Marc Beaumont came up through the ranks as a junior under Steve Peat's wing - will the likes of Taylor Vernon come of age now that he is with GT Factory Racing?


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Si Paton
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56 Comments

  • + 25
 KICK ASS
  • + 9
 Yeah this is sick! Only problem I can see is less online video coverage of juniors, the same as how women sometimes did not get video coverage during live feeds. Hopefully RedBull kills it again this year and does all three categories live!
  • + 17
 The UCI also confirmed XC eliminator as a full on event...Jesus, it's so dumb, just give us back 4x!!!
  • + 5
 Rebull kills it again' I can only presume you watched another set of cameras to me as I was less than impressed with the coverage they provided compared to freecaster!
  • + 0
 Haters guna hate Kevin!
  • + 6
 No he's right. Apart from a stable stream freecaster coverage was better.
  • + 0
 if you hadnt noticed free caster became paycaster and isnt doing them anymore. dh1 never even happened so redbull x uci wins right there.
  • + 2
 well yes, I sort of did notice, hence why I was getting at the fact that freecaster WAS better, and its also still called freecaster, not paycaster.
  • + 11
 Yep, I remember when Anne-Caroline Chausson, after winning her third CONSECUTIVE world championship in DH, and who'd been demanding they let her race with the Senior Elites even though she wasn't 18 yet (her actual time beat the senior womens winner, Missy Giove by about 10 seconds), refused to accept the gold medal and stomped off the podium crying. It was her last year as a junior so that'd put it as the 1995 race. She then went on to win the senior DH title for the next nine consecutive world championships, and then after missing the 2004 championship, won it again in 2005.
  • + 6
 Did not know. She's such a legend. Major girl crush.
  • + 1
 Hell it became such a problem with selected young seniors continually pulverizing the times/results of the older riders, while the rest of them were basically bottom of the field, that they added the U23 category to try and break up the results a bit. For every 1 Anne Caroline, there's 50 "who dats". But they continued to refuse to allow juniors who were fast enough/skilled enough, to race with the big names, for big money/recognition.
  • + 2
 @deeeight: Thanx for the history lesson mang! I love knowing more of the history of this sport. It doesn't seem as easy to get at or find as some others.

And I agree with a myriad of others I suspect when saying that Juniors do get screwed from time to time in this way. I know Anne-Caroline isn't the only one to feel screwed over in this way.
  • + 2
 today, she is racing enduro as megavalanche, and she is very far from the second girl...
I remember this year, she said at the megavalanche "I'm a bit sad because I can see, there isn't enough competition between me and the others...
  • + 2
 ACC was very pissed that year back then in Kirchzarten. It was a decision at the venue and I think the way it was handled was not good and made the bad feelings grow. She steped on the podium, but did not pull over the jersey. Her face impression was painful, punished by circumstances that felt unfair to a young racers heart. Have we seen tears there? I think she fight them.
  • + 2
 Well that she stormed off DID get her into the magazines, something that would not have happened beyond a minor mention of her name as the junior winner otherwise, and obviously when the reporters realized here this young girl was FASTER than every senior pro woman's race, well... other teams were already trying to recruit her, and sure enough, when the Sunn team disbanded, Cannondale snatched her up.
  • + 3
 Yes, A.C.C. did win the 1995 Jr. Worlds with a time faster than the the Senior Womens, however it was Leigh Donovan not Missy Giove who was Senior World champion in 1995. Also, while A.C.C. won the Senior Championship 9 times in total, it was 8 consecutive times between 1996 and 2004. I'm not intending to be argumentative here, I just think if the history of the sport is being mentioned it needs to be as accurate as possible.
  • + 1
 Fine, i got the consecutive count wrong, it was 11 in a row counting the three junior world champs, also she double world championed in 2000-2001 claiming the dual slalom titles to go along with the DH titles, and again 2002 and 2003 claiming the 4X world championships, plus 5 consecutive world cup DH series titles (1998 thru 2002), the 2000 World Cup DS title, and 2002 the World Cup 4X title, and the 2008 Olympic BMX Gold Medalist.
  • + 1
 All I've learned is that ACC is a bigger badass than anyone on cycling. Can't think of a single more dominant athelete.
  • + 1
 1995 ACC was not new to the scene. She won in May 1994 her first World Cup in Cup d'Ail and had a 2nd under very different conditions in Hindelang (mud and snow at start level) and another 2nd in Silverstar 1994. So she wanted to chose the Elite class and the competition to the best. What I can't remember, was she injured during the WCup saison 1995? I think so. Who knows why I cant find any results from WCups 1995?
  • + 5
 This is a WORLD CUP, not an age group local race. Why on earth did the UCI feel the need to do this? At the end of the day, it may have the complete opposite effect they want and stunt the growth of junior riders.

Do you think Troy would have been as fast as he is if he only had to race against juniors all season (he won by 9 seconds in Champery against the juniors, and would have been 2nd elite (albeit under slightly different conditions). The experience of racing and training against the fastest in the world is what allowed him to excel so far.

If you are a Junior and fast enough to race at a World Cup Level (see Troy Brosnan exmaple again) then that's where you should be. If not, you should be developing your skills at local races and earning it. Juniors do not make the elite finals simply because they are not at that level yet.

Political correctness gone mad.
  • + 2
 I don't think it will have a negative effect. The young riders still race against the older riders at local level. That's where the peer related improvement takes place. It is after all a time trial based race, come race day it's game face on and these kids will be going hell for leather, no matter what.
  • + 2
 I agree completely, but it sounds more to me like an effort to boost the profitability of the series for organizers.

"That's more of a question for the likes of Mike Jardine or Rare Management who organizes the Fort William World Cup, but I believe that an attraction for any organizer is an increase in the number of hotel beds and restaurant tables filled so as to attract more local tourism support. More spectators, supporting families etc, all good stuff"

This is not a toonie race, it's a world cup. It's pretty sad if World Cup organizers can't make it work.
  • + 1
 The top Juniors can ride elite though, surely that's a good thing?
  • + 1
 All juniors who qualify through their national federations can race in the Elite category at World Cups anyways, and then they can still compete at Worlds as a junior. New rules mean they must decide to forego Worlds as a junior if they wish to compete in World Cups as an elite rider.
  • + 1
 I think the 3 tier idea is gold. It will give more guys a chance to have a race day, because travelling isn't cheap (unless your wife is a flight attendant like mine) and this is great encouragement. Let's face it, most of the guys outside the top 30 know they haven't really got what it takes anyway. Put it this way, there are about 22 drivers in F1, 17 in MotoGP, and most of them are also-rans. I see it is being totally positive.

When I started racing I was 13 and it was just under 19s, seniors and elites. Totally unfair, asking a 50kg schoolboy to race against 18 year old men. As a result I finished my first race 44th and was devastated. A couple of years later they changed it to youth, junior etc, and I was straight top ten, top 5 on my day. I was never going to win or make it as a pro so telling me I couldn't directly measure myself against Jason McRoy, Will Longden, Tom Edwards, Steve Peat etc didn't really bother me. I'd rather be closer to the podium in my own age group race.

Plus, it means I don't have to waste my time sitting through 2 hours of racing that I don't care about because I want to see Brendog, and he qualified below some of the juniors. I'd be happy if the broadcast was just the top 20 men.

As for 5-rider podiums. I have been wondering about that since I got back into MTB a couple of years ago. Why? You can say what you want about pleasing the sponsors, but all it does is devalue the currency. Yeh ten teams can tell the sponsors they got a podium, but the sponsors know all you have to do is finish 5th to get one, so the degree of stoke is lower. This is the only sport I've ever heard of that has 5 riders on the podium and I don't agree with it.
  • + 3
 Any word on how this will work with redbulls video coverage?? Will they show the top juniors? The top juniors usually broke into the top 30 elite riders anyway and were shown on video coverage on race day. Since theyre technically in a different class and race at different times than elite now, hopefully this wont mean no video coverage because i enjoy watching them race.
  • + 3
 I remember seeing a bit ago that UCI/USA Cycling were sending letters to pro's who participated in non-UCI/USA Cycling events like the Teva Games, and these letters mentioned fines and suspensions. How will this rule be applied now that Jr's will have their own race at the UCI level. It's events like the Teva games, Fontana and other non-UCI/USA Cycling events that get the Jr's the experience they need to move up. Hope this rule will be amended so that Jr's can participate in non-UCI/USA Cycling events and not have it hinder their ability to participate in World Cup events. Better so, let's just drop that stupid rule and allow everyone to participate in whatever they like and give our sport the spotlight that it deserves.
  • + 3
 This all seems a bit odd to me. I've always thought of the World Cup as the pinnacle of a sport. The best of the best race each other. This change seems to move away from that and I'm not sure it is the best move from a spectator point of view.

Over the last couple of years the UCI seems to have been moving in the direction of making the World Cups more exclusive and prestigious. They went from having the World Cup virtually open to anyone with an elite license, to requiring 1 uci point, then it moved to 20 uci points. If I'm not mistaken they reduced the number of racers who qualify on race day. These moves all seemed like good moves to ensure that you are showcasing high level riding. Maybe I'm alone, but when I watch a World Cup it is for just that reason, to see the best (as good as they are, sometimes I'll even skip a good part of the mens field until it gets exciting).

There have been alot of juniors working their way up through the elite ranks in the last couple of years. Personally I think that was exciting to see. Also if an elite rider doesn't qualify because they lost their spot to a faster junior, I see no problem with this. Again in my mind a World Cup is the best of the best. Are we going to start to see a junior category in the Redbull Rampage?
  • + 2
 Had to post in two parts because my message was flagged as too long/spam

It seems like this rule was put in place more to increase participation and numbers at the races. If this is the case and the UCI is having trouble attracting race organizers due to poor profitability, I guess this is a good response, but it doesn't make for a better series.

I am all for development of riders, but if Juniors are not ready for the world Cup then they should need to bide their time and hone their skills. I see nothing wrong with the system that was in place last year and in years past. The caliber of the riding was high, we had the excitement of watching juniors work their way up the ranks and even upset some of the elites, and they still had recognition in the form of a junior podium

This isn't going to stop me from watching, but I dont' think that this was done for the right reasons or for the right goals.
  • + 1
 It would be cool to see the top five juniors at each round get an opportunity in the elite field also. For example if there were only 75 elite male qualifiers and the remaining five positions were filled with the top 5 juniors from their race at that world cup. Effectively giving them the opportunity to have two race runs. 2c worth
  • + 1
 Beware greeks bearing gifts and it all sounds a bit Greek to me .
UCI have taken away 4x ! . Enduro racing event ???. So really they are not trying to develop MTB as a sport .
The UCI are just trying to make the event more profitable for the UCI . They are not giving the sport anything , the riders are the assets . There is still only 24 hours in a day and still a limit on the number of riders men , women and juniors you can get down a hill on one track . I think we will see more guys leaving the pro circuit as they will only be able to make end meet and not a living at DH as teams/ sponsors opt for junior riders for media and brand exposure .
  • + 1
 I can see the value in a Development category that the wc2 idea would create. Maybe you win your way out of it like soccer divisions... Top 10 riders from little wc go into big WC... Last 10 riders from WC go to wc... More winners, more teams, more sponsors, to watch, more incubation, possibly a, lower cost little wc series before you hit the big time.
  • + 6
 great news!
  • + 1
 Good step to have a Junior Class. Smart idea with the Moto2 comparison. Need to think about this. I agree, podiums should stay with five riders! This is classic and specific for gravity MTB! And I prefer this a lot. I like Supercross and I like girls, but there the silicone-breasted, naive grinning Monster girls taking half of the podium. A sports podium should present the riders. And to me it feel good to be part of a sport with a own identity and tradition to take 5 on top. Pure riders, girls and somethimes politicians just framing. Easy to cut away from the pic. For the juniors 3 is okay to me. The public will focus only on a few young guns during a World Cup.
  • + 1
 Get a grip fraserbritton, in the olympics they have a place for juniors and thats how it should be. Forget local races what the hell are you talking about. Repression has its place in law enforcement, not in sports. Thumbs up for the UCI, we need evolution.
  • + 1
 I just can't see how it won't be very low numbers with one rider dominating for each sex. When was the last time there was a close battle for junior world cup overall? How many juniors even raced the whole series last year? 5 men, even fewer women? Low numbers and lack of competition will decrease the coverage and airtime in a category which will already struggle to get publicity. I hope to be proven wrong....
  • + 1
 You are right, the number is small, but a change like that can stimulate more juniors to enter the race, more teams to sign and invest into junior riders, which is already happening with a couple of teams this year (info about the junior world cup has been on the UCI rules since October and all the teams knew about it) and that is the right way to develop young talents. Overall, that leads for local racing scenes to have more motivation to race, more people buying bikes, scene getting bigger.. that what this is all about.
  • + 1
 Good point. This will put a premium on developing junior talent since the UCI is essentially artificially increasing exposure for juniors. Because there will be significantly more juniors I'm willing to bet there will be more competition in the junior class for the title than there has been. Nobody improves faster than juniors in a competitive environment, so one of the effects of this might be that the sport becomes faster overall. But it also might turn DH into more of young mans game, with riders reaching their peak at a younger age, and then get injured and retire after trying to keep up with the next generation of fast juniors coming up. Just speculation...
  • + 1
 IThere is the rare possibility that a first year junior could post the fastest time overall, and still not be on the elite podium like they would in the past. but overall it will be good since it's always interesting to watch Junior's race. More exposure for everyone. I liked Whitely's idea of 3 divisions.
  • + 1
 I wonder whether the junior riders should still race at the same time in the Elite field as they currently do (obviously then it would be 80 Elite plus how ever many juniors) because I think it would be better for coverage (i.e online they will get shown potentially if they do make top 30, photographers are going to be on the track for the Elite anyway, etc. etc.) as opposed to being a class in the morning where people/spectators aren't going to show as much interest, etc. and therefore this will be better for spono/recognition etc which seems to be the main aim of this move.
  • + 1
 Anybody remember when troy brosnan was a junior and still shredding it in the top 10, sometimes even onto the podium, in world cups? I know it wasnt long ago but it feels like it
  • + 3
 Juniors are still doing this
  • + 0
 sounds good, but bad at the same time. The ruling is not clear enough to produce wise decisions for juniors as of now. Yes, this is good for the lower ranked juniors; however, for those like richie rude and dean lucas who could potentially grab top ten and even podium spots in elite this could be bad if the whole Worlds thing is true.
  • + 1
 Top 5 juniors from last year can choose if they want to bump up to elite or not. Im sure we will see all 5 stay as juniors for their shot at junior world champs. If they didnt have this rule change they would all be battling for the junior world champ title anyway.
  • + 5
 about time aswell...
  • + 3
 Makes a lot of sense,can't see why it wasn't like this from the start
  • + 3
 Dick Rude, the podium will be seeing you...
  • + 3
 This is a long time coming. About time.
  • + 3
 Smash it Tahnée!
  • + 3
 Good article
  • + 1
 Good for riders and fans !
  • + 1
 Beaumont's whip...very well executed.
  • + 1
 How old do u have to be to start racing jounior WC?
  • + 3
 The UCI doesn't score categories like "cadet/youth" that have national / regional licensing status for world championships and world cup events, so basically anything under 19 is considered junior currently.

sites.google.com/site/goracebc/cycling-bc/race-license/faq---categories-and-upgrades

Riders over 30 have long had the option to switch their Senior Elite license to a masters class license, and there are seperate master-class world championship events held in cycling, often at a different venue. For five years in a row, the Masters UCI mtb world championships were held in Bromont. This gives the aging but still racing pros the chance to actually still win a rainbow jersey, and not worry about being beaten by riders 10 or more years younger than them, who don't have the same pressures in their mind NOT to get themselves hurt/killed.
  • + 1
 Yes konabrother1 we got this Smile

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