Pro Cycling: where are all the riders from?

Country of registration – and even sponsor origin – is only a base indicator of professional cycling’s national roots. The regional creep of cycling’s popularity is globalising the professional peloton, especially at the UCI Continental level. Cycling iQ looks at the national makeup of each UCI division for the 2012 season.

Though 2012 UCI WorldTour and UCI ProContinental teams were finalised in December 2011, cycling’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale, today announced the conclusion of the registration process for 2012 UCI Continental teams. Finally, we can get a complete snapshot of where all the professional cyclists are from.

It is extremely tempting to analyse every possible angle, but I have instead decided to publish the below chart and table, which is a collation of all information in the UCI team’s database. A few interesting pull-outs follow the table:

Number of nations (of 74 with UCI-registered riders) represented by cyclists at:
UCI WorldTour level = 42
UCI ProContinental level = 44
UCI Continental = 70
(The red cells in the table represent divisional voids, where a nation does not have a single rider competing in any given division)

Belgium has the most registered road cyclists (231) competing on the UCI circuit in 2012, but it is trounced by Kazakhstan (46%), Spain (45%) and Italy (36%) when expressing the number of WorldTour (WT) professional road cyclists as a percentage of all registered road cyclists (ie, Belgium has 52 WT riders from its 231 divisional aggregate = 23%).

Considering its size, economy, infrastructure, industrialised status and reputation for being a competitive culture – in spite of its eight continental teams – Japan has a long way to go, relative to European nations, until it can be considered to have a global foot-hold in professional cycling.

If anyone would like a copy of the spreadsheet for their own analysis, please email me – I’d be really grateful it if any findings/angles could be shared in the comments section below for the benefit of all readers.

[Note: all data used to create these summaries has been copied directly from individual team pages on the UCI’s teams database, as at 27.03.2012. I can vouch for the accuracy and completion of the data only to the extent that each team’s individual database template is correspondingly accurate and complete. The above graph has also been update in this related Cycling iQ article].


17 thoughts on “Pro Cycling: where are all the riders from?

  1. Fascinating, thanks for doing this. So U.S. has highest % in conti teams; does that say we are good at bringing cyclists up the ranks? I wouldn’t have thought so, because we aren’t as cycling-crazed a nation as Belgium, for example…but maybe my conclusion isn’t the best one.

    Posted by Mary Topping | January 27, 2012, 12:16
    • Mary, thanks for dropping by. It’s an interesting point you raise.

      Perhaps it’s just a simple capacity and funding issue: available places in the professional peloton drop off significantly as cyclists transition through the levels. Even if the US did have a fantastic development program (increasing supply of hugely talented WT-level riders), this won’t necessarily change the demand-side (sponsorship $ expressed as increased availability of places on WT teams) part of the equation.

      American cyclists appear no less determined/aspirational than their European peers to make it to WT level; I wonder if, overall, they see opportunity, or limited places for their talents.

      Posted by cyclingiq | January 27, 2012, 16:58
  2. That is strange about Japan. We had 4 Conti teams last year, and a new one (Cannondale Space Zero Point) was recently announced.
    Thanks for the interesting reads

    Posted by Zac Reynolds | January 27, 2012, 16:17
    • Zac, that’s a great observation.

      I called the Cannondale Japan office after receiving your comment. The CEO, Mario Stein, is in the US on a business trip so I left a message for him to contact me. Unfortunately, the very helpful lady I spoke with in the office wasn’t able to disclose any further details about the team – I pointed out that UCI Conti registrations had closed for 2012. Will report back here as soon as I have additional info.

      Posted by cyclingiq | January 27, 2012, 17:13
      • Cam, I just went back to the UCI team list, and found 8 JPN registered teams that weren’t there this morning. Work in progress? Applications just finalized? Who knows…

        Posted by Zac Reynolds | January 27, 2012, 23:59
      • Thanks Zac, Japan was the last nation to be input on the UCI teams database; all 136 145 teams are now present and accounted for.

        Figures (and article) have been updated.

        Posted by cyclingiq | January 28, 2012, 08:37
  3. Sad to see so few South Africans …..

    Posted by New Cyclist | January 31, 2012, 02:35


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