2023 CX Rankings Update 1130x600
National Championships

2023 Cyclocross Rankings Update

Riders may have noticed changes to the USA Cycling Cyclocross rankings last month. This was in response to an error we discovered in our ranking algorithm. USA Cycling prides itself on being a trusted resource for competitive cycling data in the United States. We’re committed to protecting the accuracy and transparency of our race and rankings data. The purpose of this email is to provide details of this change and explain how it may have impacted your cyclocross ranking.

USA Cycling rankings are calculated using a well-established algorithm that takes racer participation, competition, and racer results into consideration. Given that these rankings are used at the Cyclocross National Championships to determine starting positions within each race category, it is extremely important that this data is accurate.

The calculation error we discovered led to riders in certain regions being unfairly granted lower (better) rankings, which then influenced their starting position at recent events. This error also impacted several elite athletes who were missing from the top 50 rankings completely. To avoid corrupting upcoming race data, future race rankings, and the upcoming National Championship start positions, USA Cycling took swift action to identify the error, implement the necessary code changes, and recalculate rankings. Due to the nature of this error and its relationship to our 2020 rankings data, we made the decision to re-calculate rankings from the 2021 season forward.

Our Technology, Event Services, Officials, and Customer Service departments verified the adjustments to the algorithm with manual calculations and references to known current results and standings. In addition, we shared updated rankings data with several external stakeholders (racers, coaches, and race directors) to gain further feedback on data accuracy. The feedback from this group was that the data looked accurate from both a national and regional perspective.

One consistent concern expressed by this stakeholder group was that points totals appeared higher than expected. While rank order is calculated on a rolling 12-month basis, ranking points take a long tail of information into consideration. Since all athletes were reset to baseline ranking points (600) as of January 1, 2021, ranking points for all athletes will remain higher throughout the next 2-3 seasons and will naturally find their place (in the 125-150 range for top athletes) over time. This does not impact rank order, so the rank position is correct.

The changes and full recalculation gave us the reset needed to ensure accuracy going forward. We've also implemented system upgrades that automatically recalculate rankings nightly, so you can expect changes to appear on a more frequent basis. If you'd like to take a look at rider results or rankings, click here to head over to our current Results & Rankings website.

Please note that other sources may calculate rankings based on aggregate event data. Many of these systems use sanctioned as well as non-sanctioned race data, which changes opposition metrics and other variables USA Cycling relies on for consistency. Their rankings and upgrade points are independently calculated and should not be treated as official USA Cycling rankings or upgrade points.

A new, mobile-first Results & Rankings project is underway, with a targeted launch in 2024. Stay tuned for future updates! If you have questions or would like to learn more about rankings, don't hesitate to get in touch with us at rankings@usacycling.org.