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The 2014 Oceania Road Championships are being held in Toowoomba, Queensland this weekend, bringing this year’s Oceania Tour to a close … even though it’s only February. So what is the Oceania Tour? Jono Lovelock explains.
The Oceania Tour is the circuit of races that all UCI Continental and Professional Continental registered cycling teams from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Guam can race. Drapac Professional Cycling is the region’s only ProConti team and the remaining Continental teams are African Wildlife Safaris, Avanti Racing Team and Budget Forklifts.
Most cycling fans will only care for the WorldTour; the circuit that all UCI WorldTour teams (although technically they are called ProTeams) race on. The three Grand Tours, the Classics, and a number of other races make up the WorldTour calendar. Below the WorldTour sit the Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania tours.
The history of these continental circuits is best described in the document UCI’s 2008 publication “A Blueprint for the Future of Cycling”, as summarised by Cycling IQ and reproduced with permission here:
“In 2005, the UCI launched a major overhaul of road cycling. The reforms, prepared between 2002 and 2004 in consultation with the major stakeholders, were intended to solve a number of problems that cycling repeatedly faced:
– lack of universality (to the extent that it threatened its Olympic status)
– overly dispersed and incomprehensible calendar, concentrating on just one continent
– insufficient participation guarantees (for teams and organisers)
– unreliable television coverage
– unstable team structures.
“As part of the reform, the UCI created five continental circuits (UCI Europe Tour, UCI Africa Tour, UCI America Tour, UCI Asia Tour and UCI Oceania Tour) and one world circuit, the UCI ProTour (now WorldTour). For each of these six circuits, the UCI created three rankings: individual, team and national, along with distinctive jerseys for the leaders of each series.
“A new team structure was simultaneously put in place: at the top of the pyramid were the world’s biggest teams, which held a licence certifying that they met very strict quality criteria; then there were the UCI Professional Continental Teams, and finally the UCI Continental Teams.
“In order to support the development of cycling on the African, Asian and American continents (by increasing the number and quality of events and teams) the UCI appointed three Continental Advisers.”
Who can race what?
Article 2.1005 from the UCI rules for road races (see below) shows that:
– WorldTour/ProTeams can race WorldTour and 1.HC or 1.1 events
– Professional Continental teams can race WorldTour, 1.HC, 1.1 and 1.2 events
– Continental teams can race 1.HC, 1.1, and 1.2 events.
In the above, the prefixes 1. or 2. refer to the length of the event: a 1. race is always a one-day race, a 2. race is always a multi-day race. The suffixes .HC .1 and .2 refer to the ranking of the event with .HC being the highest and .2 being the lowest.
Correspondingly, the higher ranked an event the higher the proportion of higher ranked teams that can race. For example (and as underlined in red in the chart above), the Herald Sun Tour was a 2.1 ranked event so according to article 2.1005 it could have a maximum of 50% WorldTour/ProTeams. Out of the 16 teams racing only three were WorldTour teams but for future editions they could have up to eight.
The calendar rankings
The 18 WorldTour teams are automatically invited to each WorldTour race. On the continental circuits it is more cut-throat. The number of teams wanting to race is ever-increasing, but the number of races available is diminishing.
Currently for a 2.2 level race in Asia (e.g. the Tour of Thailand) there will be 16-18 spots available, and up to 50 continental teams applying for those spots. Article 2.1007 of the UCI rules for road races states:
The organiser of a class 2 event in Europe or class 1 or class 2 events in the America, Asia, Africa or Oceania Tours must invite … the first 3 UCI continental teams in the classification by team for the relevant continental circuit.
Meaning that the top three ranked teams at the end of the season — which is September for the Asia Tour — will then secure automatic invites to every 1.1, 1.2, 2.1 and 2.2 event for the following season.
The scale of points is arbitrary and not necessary to fully understand what’s going on here, all that matters is that for teams on their respective circuits, they want to perform well to earn points to work their way up the team rankings.
The only award of any significance out of the Oceania Tour is that the team that wins the overall team ranking receives an invite to compete in the team time trial at the UCI road world championships. Last year Huon-Genesys (now Avanti) received the invite but were unable to fund the trip. This year Drapac, Budget and Avanti are all in contention and willing to travel to world championships if they top the ranking. Avanti currently leads the ranking with 93 points, Drapac has 86 and Budget 80, but that could all change with 100 points available for the team that wins the elite men’s road race at the Oceania Championships on Sunday.
Although the battle for world’s TTT selection has added some interest to the Oceania Tour, it has not changed the fact that there are only four races on the elite men’s Oceania Tour: the New Zealand Cycle Classic, the Herald Sun Tour, and the time trial & road race at the Oceania Road Championships. For Oceania-based teams, there are therefore only limited opportunities to race in their home region. The significance of this is explained in this article about calls to merge the Oceania Tour and the Asia Tour (the latter of which features 28 races).
About the author
Jonathan ‘Jono’ Lovelock has raced with a variety of Australian national teams, various continental teams and travelled the world a few times over, and is still just 24 years of age.
While trying to find constructive ways of procrastinating during his commerce degree Jono discovered the art of blogging and the rest is history. When not busy riding he was writing and what started as nothing more than a fleeting foray has snowballed into regular features with RIDE Cycling Review and full-time employment with Cyclingnews.com.
Jono recently retired from cycling due to a persistent knee injury.