After a summit meeting over the weekend in Barcelona, the heads of cycling agreed to go ahead with sweeping changes to the UCI WorldTour and its teams starting with the 2017 season.
The agreement will allow new races to join the top series and provide teams with three-year licence guarantees.
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The application process for races to join the WorldTour series, currently with 27 events, will begin immediately. Organisers may apply for their event to join the 2017 calendar. If granted, they will be included for a three-year period.
The RideLondon-Surrey Classic in August has been rumoured to be among the new races applying. So too have races in the US and Middle East stage races the Tour of Qatar, Tour of Oman in February, and the Abu Dhabi Tour in October.
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“Races wishing to join the UCI WorldTour will be assessed based on a range of criteria to ensure the technical quality of those races as well as their role in the strategic development and promotion of the UCI WorldTour and the stories of the cycling season,” read the press release from the UCI.
The governing body agreed to such changes in September, but went back to the drawing board after the International Association of Cycling Race Organisers (AIOCC) voted against its plan. This time, everyone was on the same page.
That page included a new working group to help ease the transition through the 2016 season by providing opinions immediately to the UCI. The group, the Professional Calendar Working Group, will count representatives from teams, organisers and cyclists.
The idea, and what was the focus of the Barcelona discussions, is to follow four guiding principles for cycling: credibility, globalisation, engaging, and strengthening the pyramid.
“I am convinced that this reform will enable us to showcase the best of men’s professional road racing,” said UCI President Brian Cookson.
“Road cycling’s strengths lie in its variety, its season-long narrative, its accessibility to fans and its global nature. The UCI WorldTour needs to embrace these strengths and effectively promote them while celebrating the richness of the season and the performances of its actors.
“This reform respects existing rights, ensures stability for organisers and teams and encourages stakeholders to work together, ultimately reinforcing the credibility and integrity of cycling.
“We all need to feel responsible for the image of our sport. All of us need to realise that it is only by making our sport more sustainable, that we will create new opportunities for all.”