Datamining Crossresults, Part 1

As starts its seventh season, with a results database now tipping the scales at 478,000 results, I thought it would be fun to do some proper data mining while we're all STOKED and just waiting for the season to start. Meg Curry, the Gloucester sponsorship coordinator, asked me if the sold-out Gloucester women's 3/4 field was the biggest women's field in US CX history, so let's start there.

Sadly, it's not. The field limit at Gloucester was 125, but that was shared with the Cub Junior field -- and on Day 1 of the Gloucester GP the 3/4 Women's field recorded 103 finishers. That's impressive, but not quite big enough to take top honors -- in 2010, Cross Crusade: Alpenrose Dairy logged 106 Beginner Women to take the crown of "biggest women's category ever."

Coming in 3rd? The 2009 National Championships Elite Race, with 102 racers -- the biggest elite race in the database. The full list of the top women's fields:

Largest Fields, Women
DateRaceCategory# of racers
10/3/2010Cross Crusade: Alpenrose DairyBeginner Women106
10/1/2011Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester Day 1Amateur Women103
12/13/2009Cross Nationals Day 4Women - Elite102
10/2/2011Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester Day 2Amateur Women100
10/3/2010GP of Gloucester Day 1Cat 3/4 Women99
12/12/2010Cross Nationals Day 5Women Cat 1/2/3 Elite 97

So, if I was writing Gloucester sponsorship proposals, I would say that Gloucester had the "biggest women's cyclocross field in the history of USACycling." Heh*.

* - I just realized that Jeff Bramhall already made this joke on the internet, and my brain convinced me it had come up with that line on its own. BAD BRAIN! NO COFFEE!

While Cross Crusade has the top spot for women, the next five races are outside the Pacific Northwest. On the men's side, though, things are different:

Largest Fields, Men
DateRaceCategory# of racers
10/2/2011Cross Crusade #1Masters 35+ C217
11/8/2009SSCXWCMen SSCXWC213
10/3/2010Cross Crusade: Alpenrose DairyMasters 35+ C212
10/24/2010Cross Crusade: Portland International RacewayMasters 35+ C203
10/16/2011Cross Crusade #3Masters 35+ C197
11/13/2011Cross Crusade #8Masters 35+ C192

Yeah. Week in and week out, the 35+ C race at Cross Crusade is RIDICULOUSLY HUGE. The only thing to compete with it at all is the 2009 Singlespeed CX World Championships (also in Cross Crusade land!) In fact, you have to go all the way down to the 16th place to find a non-Cross Crusade Masters 35+ C race on the list, the Men B 35+ race from 2006 CX Nationals (with 160 finishers). To find a non-Nationals, non-Crusade race, you have to go all the way to 27th, where GP Gloucester Day 1 shows up with 150 Amateur Men.

If you're curious, the biggest field ever recorded in Euro? Masters World Champs, 2010, Men 45-49. 78 racers. Ha! Euros ain't got nothin on this!

For women, Azencross Loenhout sets the bar with 58 Elite women in 2008.

Of course, sometimes it's not the SIZE of the field, it's the SPEED of the field, right? Using our glorious points system (not to be confused with the poor imitation found of, lately), we can look through the database and find out which race had the most scrub-free, average-fastest race field show up.

Hey guess what the top five races are all in Europe!

Fastest Average Fields, Men
DateRaceFieldNumber of RacersAverage Racer Points
2/5/2012Superprestige HoogstratenElite Men GvA29132.18
2/12/2011Superprestige Noordzeecross MiddelkerkeElite Men GvA28136.28
2/6/2011Superprestige HoogstratenElite Men GvA26136.56
2/11/2012Superprestige MiddelkerkeElite Men GvA32138.06
1/8/2012Belgian National ChampionshipElite Men GvA16140.56

So yeah, small races in Belgium? TERRIFYING. Same story on the women's side, although, since the Superprestige series doesn't think women are people, it's all World Cups:

Fastest Average Fields, Women
DateRaceFieldNumber of RacersAverage Racer Points
1/16/2011World Cup #7Elite Women GvA29286.10
12/26/2011World Cup #6Elite Women GvA28291.89
1/15/2012World Cup #7Elite Women GvA26297.59
1/29/2012World ChampionshipsElite Women GvA32300.76
2/13/2011Internationale Cyclo-cross Heerlen GP HeutsElite Women GvA16301.03

But hey, you're reading this from AMERICA, so you really want to know where the hardest races in AMERICA have been, right?

Fastest Men's Fields Outside Europe
DateRaceFieldNumber of RacersAverage Racer Points
10/6/2007Whitmore's Landscaping Super Cross Day 1Elite Men27199.18
11/6/2011Cincy3 Harbin ParkMen UCI Elite Men30201.35
11/12/2011USGP Cyclocross-Derby City CupMen Pro/Cat 160 202.33
11/18/2007USGP Mercer Cup p/b Knapp's CycleryMen Pro/Cat 147203.58
12/11/2011USGP of Cyclocross Round #8Men Cat 1/250204.73

Unsurprisingly, we see three USGP's on the list, but none of them were harder than CRAZY MYLES'S 2007 Whitmore's Landscaping Cross Cup, which featured Erwin Vervecken atop a podium, with Wicks, Trebon, Johnson and Powers beside him. More importantly, the race is on Long Island, so it was a decent drive for the "elite scrubs" of the world, and even more importantly, there were 14 DNFs out of 41 starters -- so the few scrubs that did show up got ruthlessly lapped and dropped out. Only 17 riders made the lead lap. Thus, it had the average fastest finish ever recorded outside Europe.

A big factor on this list is UCI races in a region that doesn't have a lot of UCI races -- thus your "normal Cat 2" doesn't own a UCI license, and doesn't drag down the field quality by getting himself into the elite race. A great example of the is race #2, Cincy3 Harbin Park -- only 30 racers, and a ton of speed at the front of the race. Meanwhile the local fast guys were down in the 2/3 field.

This applies to the Derby City Cup (only UCI race in the Louisville area) and USGP #8 (only UCI race in PDX), but it doesn't explain the Mercer Cup p/b Knapp's Cyclery, back in 2007 -- this race took place in a heavy UCI region (Mid Atlantic) and featured 47 finishers. Yet, it was CRAZY FAST. Last place? Danny Summerhill. 45th, Ethan Gilmour, 37th, Derrick St John, 31st, Nick Keough, etc etc. Myerson and McCormack both missed the top 20, the field was so fast!

I have no idea why this happened, though. Do you?

Fastest Women's Fields outside of Europe
DateRaceFieldNumber of RacersAverage Racer Points
12/11/2011USGP of Cyclocross Round #8Women Cat 1/235353.92
9/26/2010USGP Cyclocross-Planet Bike CupWomen Pro/1/223354.28
11/15/2009USGP Mercer Cup Day 2UCI Women Elite27354.66
11/4/2011Cincy3 Cyclo-StampedeUCI Elite Women21356.32
12/31/2011Chicago Cross Cup New Year's Resolution Day 1Women Pro/Cat 1/2 21357.36

The locals-who-won't-buy-UCI-licenses effect is huge on the women's side, too -- four of these five women's race were the A race in a rare A/B/C women's categorization, with the B race being a 2/3 or even a 1/2/3 to let the local non-UCI racers go somewhere. Note that this doesn't happen in New England, because expect our cat 2 women to own UCI licenses, or stay home and blog angrily about the lack of a women's masters race.

The only race on that list without a true women's B field (although it did have women's Masters) was the 2009 USGP Mercer Cup Day 1. I had the misfortune of racing that race and I can tell you, it was a crappy, flat, demoralizing mudfest, and I'm gonna assume everyone doing poorly just plain dropped out, leaving only the best riders on the results sheet.

Holy cow, that took a long time to write up. Time for a(nother) beer! Coming up soon: Biggest Race Days, Smallest Race Days, Most Defeats.


joran said…
"Holy cow, that took a long time to write up."

Welcome to my world.
solobreak said…
Why not just use the quality score that you already have? It's not like backmarkers affect the front of the race.

captcha? Really? you have that may enemies?
Colin R said…
solo: i thought it was more interesting to see what the fastest overall fields are. just examining the top 5 for each race means you're really just splitting hairs between whose points were the lowest on any given week, since every usgp has basically the same 10 elite guys are it.
solobreak said…
Maybe you can add which races are the scrubbiest in part 2.
SHopengarten said…
I think there's something you are not accounting for, strength of field in various UCI race categorizations. I'd particularly like to see C2s in the US compared to those in Czech and Belgium
bikenerd said…
Oh the geekery!
henry_j said…
I agree with Solobreak’s point. You can perhaps measure the overall quality of the field by looking at the rankings of the riders on the start sheet, but the result and the relative difficulty of a ‘cross race is determined by the strength, tactics, and a bit of luck (e.g. no race ending mechanicals, or disastrous crashes) of the top 5 or so riders. The makeup of the rest of the field is largely irrelevant to the running and the eventual outcome of the race. The better “scrubs” can perhaps have the satisfaction of finishing on the same lap, and the worst ones hopefully stay out of the way when being lapped.

The Whitmore’s 2007 race (Day 1) was hardest/fastest on your list. What about the race on Day 2? The course was identical on both days, and the field (especially the top riders) was pretty much the same. The winning time was about 4 minutes slower than on Day 1. Granted, Vervecken broke his rear derailleur and abandoned, but that’s the luck of racing. 6 more riders finished on the same lap, and 4 more finished overall. But one could argue that this was due to the slower winning time, and that the race was probably as hard as on Day 1.

To relive the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat for both days of the Whitmore’s race, see

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