Cycling’s top-tier WorldTour series will undergo its biggest change yet for the start of the 2017 season. It will include new races for the 18 teams, with guaranteed three-year licences, and new cycling-wide rankings with sub-categories for sprinters and climbers.
Overnight at the World Championships in Richmond, USA, cycling’s governing body announced the overhaul of the WorldTour series. The UCI introduced its biggest set of changes since the series took over the ProTour in 2011 and perhaps since the end of the World Cup a decade ago in 2004.
“These are important changes that will help to further enhance men’s professional road cycling and aid its global growth and development,” UCI President Brian Cookson said.
“I believe that the measures announced today will help to bring greater stability and growth to men’s professional road cycling while also opening the door to greater technological innovation and fan engagement.”
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The UCI will maintain a maximum of 18 teams, but it will grant the licences for three-year periods, 2017 to 2019, to encourage investment and team stability. Its committee will base its decision on financial, sporting, administrative and organisational criteria.
Cahier des Charges
The 18 teams must adhere to new operating rules or cahier des charges. The 10 requirements includes a cap on the number of race days, the number of cyclists in a team and sets a limit on how many riders one coach may handle.
Astana already had to follow these rules in 2015 after its doping problems. Eight WorldTour teams had voluntarily signed up.
The UCI will add new races for the first time since the E3 Harelbeke joined the WorldTour in 2012. It said that it hopes that the new races, which must follow “strict standards,” will help underline cycling’s global reach.
ASO’s Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman have been rumoured to be among the new races, so have races in the USA and in the UK, like the RideLondon-Surrey Classic.
An overhaul of the WorldTour ranking system will happen for the start of the 2017 season. A new universal individual score will include cyclists from the lower two levels and look more like the former World Cup system that ceased in 2005. The UCI may also add specialist rankings, one for the best sprinter, climber, one-day rider and stage racer.
The WorldTeams’ rankings will include points from the WorldTour races only and the second tier team ranking will include WorldTour and second tier races. The nations’ rankings will also be universal and based on the top eight riders from each country.
The UCI Management committee approved the changes at a meeting in Richmond, Virgina, on September 22.
The changes were on the horizon for a long time. A version first made its way to the public’s eye in a leaked PDF in 2013 with implementation set for the 2015 season. Pushed back two years, this time the shake-up appears certain to happen in 2017.