Photos: Schieck

The UCI are set to scrap the running order regulations introduced in 2018 and will return to the 2017 regulation for the 2019 races.

The 2018 season was bookended by controversy as Brook MacDonald (Losinj) and Gee Atherton (La Bresse) both qualified first but were pushed down the starting order of racing as priority on the live feed was given to protected riders. Brook started 18th from last and Gee 21st from last in their respective races.

Qualifying vs start order 2018

Top qualifier - Brook MacDonald - ran 18th from last
Last rider - Dean Lucas

Fort William
Top qualifier - Luca Shaw
Last rider - Luca Shaw

Top qualifier - Luca Shaw
Last rider - Luca Shaw

Val di Sole
Top qualifier - Amaury Pierron
Last rider - Amaury Pierron

Top qualifier - Luca Shaw
Last rider - Luca Shaw

Mont Sainte Anne
Top qualifier - Danny Hart
Last rider - Danny Hart

La Bresse
Top qualifier - Gee Atherton - ran 21st from last
Last rider - Amaury Pierron

Unsurprisingly, the regulations caused a fair bit of controversy as it was generally felt that the top qualifiers were robbed of their spot in the limelight. It also meant that often a fast (but unprotected) rider would sit in the hotseat for a long time and the race would be nullified until the fastest protected riders started dropping, sometimes nearly an hour later.

The regulation read: "The start order for the final is determined on the basis of the reverse results of the qualifying round (the fastest rider starting last), except for the protected riders (definied in art. 4.5.031) who will start as the last riders by race number reversed."

Initially, the regulation was designed so that the number one ranked rider would always race last but its interpretation was tweaked in an emergency meeting between the UCI, Red Bull and the teams the night before the Losinj race to the format that remained for the rest of the season. The UCI were unable to completely change the regulation until the end of the season but have confirmed it will be scrapped for 2019. 

The regulation will return to something similar to the 2017 version, which will have the fastest qualifier always last and the protected riders stuck on the end of the top ten. We're glad to see it back and look forward to the return of an easily understandable and exciting format.

The new UCI downhill World Cup calendar, that is set to include eight rounds including three venues that are different from last year, is set to be released soon.