What's a relegation in cycling?

What's a relegation in cycling?

A relegation in cycling can refer to one of two things. During a race, for a variety of rule infringements a rider can be relegated. Relegation in this sense refers to giving the rider who has broken the rules the time of the last rider in their group.

This is most common during the final sprint when a rider "deviates" from their line. Regardless of the position they finished in the sprint they'd be given the last position of that group of sprinters. So say there was five sprinters who sprinted for the line, and sprinter A finished first but they got relegated for deviating from their line, they'd be assigned fifth place and the same time as the fourth rider.

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Relegation also can refer to how cycling teams are relegated or promoted on a tri-annual cycle (every three years) from the world tour ranks. There are only eighteen world tour teams and depending on the number of UCI points they garner during those three years they can either be "relegated", moved down, or "promoted", moved up.

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If you're aware of how the Championship and Premier league systems work in football (or soccer for our North American audience) it's similar. But instead of every year it's every three years. Which is quite odd. But probably makes planning a bit easier.

UCI points are garnered by winning, placing, or achieving certain sub categories (such as the green jersey at the Tour de France) at one day and multi day races throughout the calendar year. It's an interesting dynamic that plays into races, especially the early season races where teams may aim to bank points.