New Categories and Lapped Riders

With the increased popularity of cyclocross comes larger field sizes. Also with the popularity comes additional categories (i.e. Men 35+/3s, SingleSpeed etc). These additional categories are easily added by having the new category start 30 seconds to a minute behind the established category. A couple unintended consequences occur from these added categories. The first consequence is the dilution of other fields. For instance, the addition of the 35+/3s has taken away from the 35+ and the 3s. The second consequence is lapped riders.

What is interesting is there has been quite a bit of talk about how to handle lapped riders. This issue is not a Colorado issue but happens at all levels and all around the country. When talking about lapped riders people usually bring up the 80% rule. Here is an explanation of the rule from the USA Cyling Rulebook

5G1. Before the start of a race, it should be announced whether lapped riders will be pulled or remain in the race. If riders are to be pulled, the following applies:
(a) Riders who have been lapped shall continue the lap to a designated location before the finish line and withdraw, under the control of the officials.
(b) The Chief Referee may, after consulting with the organizer, impose the 80% rule. Under this rule, riders whose time gap to the race leader is at least 80% of the race leader’s time for the first lap will be pulled by the officials unless it is the final lap. The number of 80% is merely an approximation based on a typical course; the intent is that all riders should be pulled before they are lapped.
(c) Riders who have been pulled because of lapping or the 80% rule will be listed in the results based on their position when pulled and the number of laps remaining. The results will list the number of laps remaining after the lap on which they were pulled.

Here are two comments from racers in other parts of the country. From Jared Roy who is racing in the Portland area:

The 80% rule sucks for the Master 1 racers because we race with the Pro/1/2 guys who start a minute ahead of us, so we are always in danger of the 80% rule.

From Steve Tilford:

This rule is for lazy officiating. It’s just a bad rule all around. What if a rider loses 60% the first lap. He is going to be lapped for sure the next lap, but the rule doesn’t apply.

Here are two tweets referencing the rule. So what do you think? Should the ACA enforce the 80% rule? Are these new categories causing problems?

News Item: 


no slight intended

I definitely don't mean to imply that CO officials aren't dedicated. I know for a fact that they are hard working and often their job goes without thanks. I know I've personally taxed Yvonne while getting my categories sorted on my membership card.

All I mean in my comment was that the success of OBRA scoring wasn't because scoring is simple, its because they sometimes stay up all night, or spend shocking amounts of times trying to accurately score down to the 146th Cat C rider.

Officials everywhere are always operating on a larger degree of passion and generosity than compensation.


The ACA already DID upgrade most, if not all, of the 35+ Cat 4 sandbaggers. Not really sure what your suggestion would accomplish other than forcing a bunch of fast roadies with potentially limited 'cross handling skills to be thrown to the wolves. If you're a Cat 3 or above on the road, you will likely upgrade quickly in the 'cross ranks unless you just flat out suck at bike handling.

That's my point. You likely

That's my point. You likely will upgrade quickly......meaning you shouldn't have been there in the first place. I understand not wanting to be mid pack vs. at the front but when the top 10 guys in most cat 4 races are all cat 3 roadies and get upgraded before we hit November, it is obvious they shouldn't be in the cat 4 race. It is a difficult issue obviously but I don't think having to race in the Cat 3 35+ field is being thrown to the wolves. Today's race had 50 riders in the cat 3 and 70 in cat 4, yesterday was 41 vs 101 respectively.

Best to expect the unexpected

It can be frustrating, but the fact is, if you're a 4 or it's equivalent in any bike race around the country you'd do well to expect that an elite athlete (or two) from some other discipline may show up at any time, at any race and dominate...and then never be seen or heard form again.

That's racing.

It's helpful in this case to define sandbagger. To me, a sandbagger is someone who is eligible, or just shy of eligibility, for an upgrade and purposefully "throws" races to avoid being forced to upgrade, usually because they have some goal race that they want to win somewhere up the road. I've seen this happen but it's very rare as the vast majority of riders upgrade at the appropriate time.

A sandbagger is not: an athlete who happens to be at the elite level in some other endurance discipline who decides that they want to have a go in say, road racing, and follows the proper sanctioning body protocol to do so, which puts them into the entry level category per the rules.

When you buy your license there is not some guarantee made that says you won't be competing against elite athletes from some other discipline. It's just a fact of life and you do your best to compete regardless, train, turn up to as many races as you can, seize opportunities that present themselves and hope they pay off when you commit.


totally agree on automatic cross upgrade if your road cat is upgraded. Look at some of the top 10 finishers in the 35+ 4's cross races this year. I would like someone to tell me how a rider who has won or finished in the top 10 of 5-6 Cat 3 hill climbs, road races, TT's and criteriums is a Cat 4 cross racer????

I get the bike handling issue, but if you have the engine to be placing in top 10 in Cat 3 on the road it is just plain ridiculous to be racing next to a 36 year old who is in their first race of any kind.

It's not just the 35+4s.

It's not just the 35+4s. There are women cat 2 roadies racing cat 4 CX. There are people winning 2 races and not upgrading. There are cat 1 mtb'rs racing cat 3 and cat 4 CX. Etc., etc. It is very difficult for Yvonne to catch everyone and upgrade accordingly. If you think someone should upgrade and they are sandbagging, email Yvonne van Gent at with the racers name and provide some evidence. She appreciates the help.