HOW THE 2020 POWER RANKINGS ARE CALCULATED

Pure Gravel Power Rankings

WHAT THE POWER RANKING MEASURES…

This is an unapologetically populist list. Part of the ethos of gravel riding in America is that anyone can ride. When the pros come out, they ride the same course as the rest of us. You rank at the top of the list by doing well at the most popular events. Simple. If a pro comes out and crushes the field at one event a year, they probably don’t make the top-10. They aren't engaging the gravel scene very heavily, and their power rank will reflect that. The leaders on this list are people who come out and ride with the people all year long.

WEIGHTING THE EVENTS

POINTS

The top-15 riders in each event score points on a scale. We are using there same scale the Tour de France uses for a sprint. (50-30-20-18-16-14-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2). Points are cumulative. If you rank in the top 15 in more events, you get more points. This rewards riders who engage the gravel circuit more heavily. If you only show up to one or two events a year, you will not rank very high even if you podium.

FIELD SIZE

It would be wrong for Gravel Worlds to be given the same weight as The Dirty Kanza. DK has a larger and more skilled field. To acknowledge this, each event is given a different weight base on the field size of the “main Event” distance. (This distance is not always the longest or even the largest, but everybody knows what it is. For DK it is 200. For Barry Roubaix it is 60.) For instance, Dirty Kanza had 2712 participants in 2019, but only 1189 did the DK200, so Dirty Kanza is given a weight of 1189 in the rankings. Winning in a field of 1000 is given twice the weight of winning in a field of 500 riders.

New for 2020, we will be allocating points for “Uber” events. These are small fields that are longer and harder than the main event. There are three of these in 2020. DKXL, The Queen’s Stage Race at Rebecca’s Private Idaho, and the 100-mile Psycho Killer at the Barry Roubaix. These extra-hard events have small fields, but they occur as a part of a larger event which qualifies for the rankings. Even though these events are extremely difficult, they will be weighted lightly in accordance with their participation numbers. This acknowledges the events and the riders who compete in them, but is in-line with the populist ethos of gravel and the power rankings.


Updates for 2020:

  • After listening and learning we have changed the way we weigh Rebecca’s Private Idaho. In 2019 we considered the Queen’s Stage Race the "Main Event" for ranking purposes. The crowd is telling us that the real main event is the Baked Potato. The Queen’s Stage Race is an extra-difficult challenge that most riders do not attempt. However, all stage race participants are counted in the Baked Potato. This change would have increased RPI's weight from 143 to 524. 
  • “Uber” Events are included in the rankings. Small fields which are a part of a larger qualifying event AND are longer/harder than the main event are given their own ranking. There are three of these in 2020. DKXL, The Queen’s Stage Race at Rebecca’s Private Idaho, and the 100-mile Psycho Killer at the Barry Roubaix. These extra-hard events have small fields, but they occur as a part of a larger event which qualifies for the rankings. Even though these events are extremely difficult, they will be weighted lightly in accordance with their participation numbers. This acknowledges the events and the riders who compete in them, but is in-line with the populist ethos of gravel and the power rankings. One notable effect of this is that riders will be able to score points at Rebecca’s Private Idaho in both the Baked Potato, and the Queen’s Stage Race.

Update for 2021:

  • We have changed the way we weigh Boulder Roubaix. BR is not a mass-start event. Waves are released every several minutes. In 2019 we weighted the event based on ALL participants. In 2021 we will weight the event based on the sum of the riders in all waves which ride the longest distance. This would have caused Boulder Roubaix's 2019 weight to drop from 928 to 189. (Boulder Roubaix is an every-other-year event and does not take place in 2020.)

Power Ranking Map

WE AREN'T JUST THROWING DARTS

As we looked to calculate our Power Rankings, we knew it would be critical to select the best events as our basis. We did not want to introduce subjectivity so we began looking for criteria to filter the events. An event must meet five criteria to be included in the rankings.

LOCATION

First, we needed to set the scope. We decided to restrict the rankings to America. We flirted with the idea of expanding the scope to North America which would include Paris 2 Ancaster, but ultimately decided to keep the scope to the United States. This allows us to crown National Champions for King and Queen of gravel. If you think we should broaden the scope to include Canada and Mexico, let us know in the comments. The power rankings are restricted to events taking place in America. For now.

SIZE

After great deal of testing we discovered that size is the one criteria that ruled over the rest. When you only take the largest events, you do not have to worry about date or location or even quality of the field. The most successful events draw the largest number of riders, and the highest quality of riders. For 2020 we are including every gravel event in America with a field size of 500 riders or more.

A note on the field size numbers: These numbers were calculated from the results, not registrations. Registration data is usually not available to us. Also, some event organizers have a bad habit of inflating their numbers. Even with really good reg numbers, a surprising number of registrants do not show up. Either from bad weather, sickness, change of plans, or because a lot of free registrations were handed out to sponsors and media. We tried very hard to find and include DNFs in the field size numbers, but we exclude DNS.

A note on 2021: If gravel continues to grow at the rate we expect, the 500 field size cut-off will be too low in 2021. In 2020 we expect to have 22 events crack the 500 rider barrier. That is probably a few too many. Ideally the power rankings will hover between 10 and 20 events. We are expecting to raise the cutoff to 750 for 2021. For reference, a 750 rider limit in 2019 would have left us with 11 events.

UN-PAVED PERCENTAGE

Gravel is a mixed-surface sport. Most gravel rides include at least some paved roads. That said, we need a cutoff. Events must have a minimum of 33% un-paved surfaces to be included in the rankings.

DROP BARS

Mountain bikes are awesome, but this list is for Gravel events. For the purposes of the power rankings, we are going to say that the event must have 50% of riders on drop bars to be credibly called a “Gravel” event.

LENGTH

One criteria we intentionally did not consider is length. It is the participants that make a ride easy or hard. With a large field of top-level riders, even a dirt crit is a good measure of a gravel rider’s abilities. In fact, to have a well-rounded ranking, it is essential to have events of differing lengths and elevations to cater to the strengths of different riders.

 


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A peloton of riders at SBT GRVL