USA Cycling Collegiate National Championship Omnium Scoring

One of the more complicated yet ingenious (if we may say so ourselves) aspects of Collegiate Cycling is the way the Team and Individual Omniums are calculated. The Team Omnium balances men and women’s scores regardless of field size, it doesn’t unfairly benefit or punish big teams, and it counts each event equally. The Individual Omnium also counts each event equally and ensures that the most well rounded individual rider always comes home with the Stars and Stripes jersey. Both Omniums, however, take a bit of advanced calculations (get out your slide-rules, folks!) and aren’t always the easiest to explain. So here’s how it works in a nutshell.

We’ll start with the Individual Omnium because it’s pretty straightforward. Put simply, the top 50 riders in each race (top 30 in track) score points according to the tables in Appendix 4 of the Rulebook. Their points are totaled for all their races, and the rider with the most points wins. Each event operates a little differently, though, so here’s where things get slightly more complicated:
  • Individuals must score points in both the road race AND the criterium.
  • Team Time Trial points only count toward the Team Omnium, not the Individual.
  • In the criterium, you might notice that there are fewer points on the line for the finish (first place is worth 143 points in the crit, but 164 in the road race, for example), but when you count in prime points, there are actually the exact same number of points available in the crit as in the road race.
  • Prime points count toward your crit score, and therefore toward your overall individual total.
  • Individuals must score points in both an endurance event (individual pursuit and/or points race) AND a sprint event (match sprints and/or individual time trial).
  • Team events only count toward the Team Omnium, not the Individual.
  • Only a your highest three scores count toward the Individual Omnium, but if you enter all four individual races, all four results still count toward the Team Omnium.
  • In the points race, the points you earn in the race are not the same as Individual Omnium points.
Mountain Bike:
  • Individuals must score points in both an endurance event (cross country and/or short track) AND a gravity event (four cross/dual slalom and/or downhill).
  • There is no Individual Omnium in cyclocross. Since there’s only one race per individual, it would be kind of redundant, wouldn’t it?
Here’s where things get complicated. “Complicated?” you ask, “Don’t you just add up everybody’s points for a team total?” Why of course not! That would be too simple – not to mention the fact that it would naturally devalue smaller fields (women’s races, in particular) and create the opportunity for big teams to simply walk away with the competition simply by stacking the field with pack fodder. Instead, we add up the totals for each team in each race and reassign points each time based on those rankings. Clear as mud? It’s easiest to explain with an example, so let’s take the 2011 USAC Collegiate Road National Championships as our case study (for Track, see below):
1.     Just like the Individual Omnium, we assign points to the top 50 riders in each race (again, top 30 in Track). Here are the results from the Division I Women’s Road Race (click image to enlarge):


2.     Then each school receives the points of their top three riders in that race, and is ranked based on those totals. “What if they have more than three riders in the race, though?” you ask. The rest of the riders still get Individual Omnium points, but their points don’t count toward the Team Omnium. This prevents the big teams from soaking up all the points. There’s still an advantage to placing the rest of their riders, though, because they still displace other riders from the points. This means that if a team’s fourth highest placed rider gets, say, 20th place, the points for 20th place don’t go to the competition.

3.     Next, we throw out the totals from the individuals, and assign a new set of points (Team Points) to the schools based on their rankings in that race. These points go 20 places deep. (In team events such as the Team Time Trial, this is the first step for the race, as there are no individual results.) This second layer of points keeps the competition tight, so that even if one school blows all the others out of the water, they’re still only a pre-determined number of points ahead of the school behind them. Here are those new points for the Division I Women’s Road Race as well as the totals from the top three riders for each team (you’ll notice that even though a rider from Harvard won the actual race, Lees McRae is the points winner for this race - click image to enlarge):

4.     Then the same process is repeated for each race, and all Team Points are totaled. Here is the overall Team Omnium for the entire event (click image to enlarge):

Voila! That’s the Team Omnium! A couple notes to complicate things a bit further, though:
  • Tie Breakers: Sometimes, two teams will score the same total points (take the US Naval Academy and University of Iowa, above, for example). When this happens, we go back a couple steps to see which school scored more 1st place finishes over the course of the whole event. In this case, neither team did, so we see which school scored more 2nd place finishes. Again, neither team did, so we keep doing this down to 5th place. Still a tie. Now we compare which team had the highest placing over the course of the whole event. In this case, the best-placed Iowa rider took 18th in the men’s road race, and the best that Navy placed was 14th in the team time trial. So Navy gets 29th overall, winning the tie breaker. If that had still been a tie, then we would take the team with the highest placed rider in the last race of the event, but fortunately it rarely goes that far. The same process occurs for an individual race. If the sums of two teams’ top three riders in a given race are equal, then you would go back to see which team had a higher placed rider in that race, and break the tie in favor of that team.
  • Track: For USAC Collegiate Track National Championships, although the two divisions race together, and the Individual Omnium at that event is scored without regard for division, as well, the Team Omnium is still scored separately by division. How does this work? It’s actually not too complicated: once all the riders are assigned Individual Omnium Points, the list of teams is separated by division before being ranked on the 94-point, 20 place scale. In other words, if you're the second place rider in a race, even if you're the first Division II rider, you still only get second place points. But once teams are ranked based on the sum of their top three riders, the teams are assigned Team Points based on their placing within their division.

This Article Published June 7, 2011 For more information contact: