The International Association of Cycling Race Organisers (AIOCC) dealt a blow to the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) last week, voting to reject reforms to the WorldTour for 2017.
An overwhelming majority of race organisers voted to reject the UCI’s WorldTour reforms at the AIOCC general meeting in Hamburg, Germany, on Friday, with 77 voting in favour, six voting against and one abstaining.
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The move throws the UCI’s WorldTour reforms into a stalemate. It cannot effectively make changes to races without the race organisers’ co-operation and support.
The AIOCC, chaired by Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme, has called for the formation of working groups to try and come up with a solution to the issue, and there are likely to be many meetings and conversations between the AIOCC, UCI and individual organisers over the coming months.
ASO had already confronted the UCI over the reforms in June 2015, when it threatened to pull its races from the 2016 WorldTour calendar.
It is a situation that harks back to the long-running spat between the Grand Tour organisers and the UCI under the leadership of former president Pat McQuaid in the mid-2000s. A three-year disagreement ultimately led to the UCI agreeing to the Grand Tour (Tour de France, Vuelta a España, Giro d’Italia) organisers’ demands so that they would continue to be included in the ProTour, the forerunner of today’s WorldTour.
Part of that disagreement stemmed from the race organisers dislike of being dictated to – they wished to organise and run their events as they saw fit, without ‘interference’ from the UCI.
The 2017 WorldTour reforms are part of new UCI president Brian Cookson’s plans to modernise and update the sport.
Smaller teams for Grand Tours and major races
Members of the AIOCC voted unanimously to propose a reduction in the number of riders in Grand Tour teams from nine to eight, and from eight to seven in other major events.
A reduction in the size of the peloton, they reason, will help to reduce the incidence of crashes that have blighted recent races.
A reduction in team sizes will also reduce the financial burden on squads.