UCI Climb rankings

Mar 7, 2009
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I always wonder how the climbs are REALLY ranked. For example, in today's P-N stage, there were three climbs, all ranked as Cat. 3, ranging from 1.4 km to 6.9 km in length, and the shortest at 3.5% gradient, and the longest at 4.4%. So can anyone tell me why a 1.4 km at 3.5% is given the same points for difficulty as a climb that is 6.9 km at 4.4%? Is the road surface that bad on the short climb to make it so difficult? Patterson Pass, east of Livermore has a steeper gradient than any of these, for roughly 2.5 km (and a not-great road surface at that) but is rated as a Cat. 4 climb. How much subjectivity is placed on the ranking and is it done by the SAME person? I doubt that. I'd be interested to hear from anyone in the organization of the race to see how these climbs are given their ratings.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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It's all fairly subjective. It depends on the length, gradient, location in the race, and whims of the person doing the rating.
 
Mar 7, 2009
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That's pretty much what I have figured all along. If it were me, today's stage would have probably had 2 Cat. 4 climbs and a Cat. 3 That first short climb is something that usually doesn't even get ranked in many cases - a 49m rise? 161 ft - just a big bump for these guys! Yet they gave it a Cat 3? :rolleyes:
 
Mar 10, 2009
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ATBScott said:
That's pretty much what I have figured all along. If it were me, today's stage would have probably had 2 Cat. 4 climbs and a Cat. 3 That first short climb is something that usually doesn't even get ranked in many cases - a 49m rise? 161 ft - just a big bump for these guys! Yet they gave it a Cat 3? :rolleyes:
I'm sure they do that to give some incentive early in the race. With some KOM points up for grabs, some of the big names might take an interest earlier than otherwise and have a good sprint for the top.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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ATBScott said:
That's pretty much what I have figured all along. If it were me, today's stage would have probably had 2 Cat. 4 climbs and a Cat. 3 That first short climb is something that usually doesn't even get ranked in many cases - a 49m rise? 161 ft - just a big bump for these guys! Yet they gave it a Cat 3? :rolleyes:
I think it is all context. In a panflat course there would never be a category3, 2 or 1 climb and nothing that resembles a Cat 4 either. In a 1 day race like Paris Roubaix there are so many other things that can be classified that a climbers jersey is inane. So in a stage race there is usualy a climbers jeersey (except in Qatar) and each stage needs drama in the classifications. One day a climb is a cat 4 and a cat 3 in another race on another day. A cat 3 in March is a 4 or unranked in late June. You see context over the season. Everything is considered when you classify a course. Obviously an HC climb has to be big and big in comparison to anything else in the race as well as how hard it is to the field assembled. A legitimately hard climb in March is easier in July. That realy big race in France is also harder because it is longer too.
 
Is there even such a thing as UCI climb rankings? I was under the impression that it was the race organizers that do their own climb rankings. The most famous one being the ones from the tour de france which I believe is the standard by which alot of climbs is compared but I don't remember hearing that there is any type of official universal rankings done by the UCI.
 
Mar 12, 2009
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Alfred E. Neuman said:
It's all fairly subjective. It depends on the length, gradient, location in the race, and whims of the person doing the rating.
Yep, no science to it that's for sure, I know road quality has a part also, but considering most roads have been resealed since first getting ratings do they change?
 
Mar 10, 2009
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incentives...

Master50 said:
I think it is all context.
[...]
That realy big race in France is also harder because it is longer too.
Someone that many love to hate once said the reason that the TdF is so hard is because the pace is so fast. Having ridden l'Alpe d'Huez, Galibier, Isoard, Ventoux, and Col de la Madeleine (amongst others), the later was the toughest, most anguishing climb I've chosen to do - 20km averaging 8% (from the south). But I can not imagine trying to cling onto a cat 2 rider's wheel up Ventoux or L'Alpe.

Someone upthread said it (the incoherent ratings) has to do with animating a race. So true. Look where Verinque would win his Polka-dot jerseys. Heck, Look at Tony Martin today!

Gotta edit: The reason Col du Galibier is an HC from the north is not because it's super tough, it is because it is almost always preceded by Telegraphe. Combined, the most magnificant climb I've ever done.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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The climb rating lies in the subjective (and I would think collaborative) evaluation from the race officials: where the climb is positioned in the race season, a stage and/or race, the slope, elevation, etc. A bit like grading on a curve, subject to climb "inflation".
 
Mar 10, 2009
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I always thought a lot of the HC climbs that were given that categorization were from the early days. Organizers would go up the climb and if it they couldn't make it over the top due to weather, avalanch, too steep, etc they deemed it "Beyond Category" (as in they couldn't determine the category because they couldn't make it over)- and the categories "stuck" over the years.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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If that's the case, the climbs are surely victims of "climb inflation"; technology has made cycling easier.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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I had thought it was from the early days alright, but came from the car or tourist mag (I forget which) that helped found it - any hill that a car in the 1900 could not ascend for whatever reason was made Hors Categorie. There may be nothing in that, but I do remember hearing it somewhere.
 

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