The 2012 AsiaTour, which officially ended with the Tour of Brunei in September, was scattered across 13 nations and comprised 155 days of racing. Logistically and financially, it’s a puzzle for most teams – but has anyone wondered about the actual formula which bolts it all together? Is the calendar logically set out for sustainable development, or is it the by-product of short-term opportunity?
Aah, yes. It must be winter. Contemplation increases inverse to what used to be time spent in the saddle. Questions that previously melted in and out of consciousness now solidify and eventually become…graphs.
In the above graph [which can be enlarged by clicking on it] the host countries of the 2012 AsiaTour calendar are sorted from left to right by the number of UCI-registered pro riders each country has (2012 registrations), expressed as a percentage of all pro cyclists from Asian cycling federations. We can see that, together, pro’s from Japan and China represented almost 50% of all 316 UCI-registered pro cyclists from Asia during the 2012 season.
Naturally, we may expect to see a correlation between the number of pro riders and UCI races in these two nations. Indeed, 25.6% of Asia’s UCI-registered riders hail from China and the world’s most populous country fittingly hosts five UCI races, for a total of 43 (27%) of the racing days in the UCI’s 2012 AsiaTour calendar (taking cancelled races into account). What’s more, over half of these race days are in the lucrative 2.HC category. However, this is where correlations end.
Most disappointing – in my own opinion at least, considering the absolutely top-class organization, pro cycling culture and transparency of barriers to development potential – is the lack of development in Japan. With a growing number of UCI WorldTour pros , and the second-largest number of UCI-registered pro cyclists in Asia, the number of races and UCI points available in Japan are not reflective of its standing.
Of course, anyone can see this with a quick glance at the UCI calendar. Less easy to compare is the availability of maximum UCI points (simply defined in this case as combined stage and GC wins) in any given country, as this depends not only on the number of race days, but also the category they fall under.
The availability of UCI points in Oman, Qatar, Phillipines, Syria and Thailand seems to have done nothing to grow the base structure of professional cycling in those countries. Notwithstanding each country’s time on the circuit it would appear that, after the race is won and the banners come down, little in the way of development is done. Granted, this statement ignores what is going on at a club level, so only time will reveal if anything substantial currently simmering below will eventually bubble up into the UCI Continental arena.
Another interesting detail: all of the 2.HC points in the UCI AsiaTour come from countries where the races are either owned or controlled by government or monarchies – further evidence that the business model of cycling at this level has little to offer private enterprise – which usually means access to healthy doses of funding. On the face of it, the UCI is putting fresh cream on top of the same cake each year without inspecting to see if the cake itself could also be improved.
These are only a few hastily arranged thoughts and ideas. Any interpretations or commentary on the graphs are most welcome in the comments section below.