Simply put, the more UCI points a rider has, the better the start position at all UCI races including the upcoming 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Louisville 2013. Throughout the season, riders accumulate points following certain rules, and that total is used to place them in the start grid. To make it even more complex, World Cup points, also determine the line up for the under23 and junior men.
Nation rankings determine the number of riders that can start the elite men's race, the more points a nation has, the more riders that can line up at the race. And, the defending world champions, continental champions and final World Cup leaders can also be added to their list of riders, above the quota.
Racers line up in rows of eight rider-wide at the start of the race, and everyone wants to be at the front for when the course inevitably narrows while going from pavement to grass/dirt also known as the holeshot. Let's review the rules set out by the UCI with regards to team quota for Louisville 2013.
Elite Men. The top five nations in the rankings, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands and the United States can register nine riders with six allowed to start the race. All other nations, can register eight and start five riders.
In addition to their six starters, the Belgian Federation can also add the reigning world champion Niels Albert. And the leader of the final 2012-2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup standings after the UCI World Cup in Hoogerheide on January 20 can also be added by his federation. If a Belgian, that is not Albert, wins the World Cup, then the Belgian Federation can start a total of eight riders on February 3, 2013 in Louisville.
Elite Women. All nations can register eight riders with five to start in the race. In addition to their five starting riders, the Netherlands Federation can also add the reigning world champion Marianne Vos. The British National Federation will be able to add European Champion Helen Wyman above their five starters.
Once again, the leader of the final 2012-2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup standings after the UCI World Cup in Hoogerheide can be added. With her second place at the Rome World Cup, American champion Katie Compton has secured the overall World Cup victory which means that the USA is able to start six riders also in the elite women's race on February 3 in Louisville.
Under-23 Men. All nations can register eight riders with five to start in the race. Though only 21 years old, last year's under23 world champion Lars van der Haar of the Netherlands will be be racing in the under23 race as he has a special dispensation from the UCI and is now racing as an elite man. The Dutch Federation will not be able to take advantage of last year's rainbow jersey but they will be able to add European Champion Mike Teunissen above the quota, making it a maximum of six riders.
Again, the leader of the final 2012-2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup standings after the UCI can also be added above the limit of five starters. Belgian Wietse Bosmans has a solid lead with one World Cup to go.
Junior Men. All nations can register eight riders with five to start in the race. The same rider, Mathieu van der Poel of the Netherlands is the reigning World champion, European champion and leader of the World Cup. The Dutch Federation will be able to add van der Poel to make it six riders to start in Louisville if they so choose.
Other rules. Each federation with six starting riders in the men elite's race is required to add the first three rankers riders that are in the top 50, while federations with five starting riders must add the first two ranked top 50 riders.
Many federations, including USA Cycling, has specific criteria to be selected to represent the United States at the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships.