Despite adding 10 new WorldTour races to its calendar just a few months ago – and to the vex of many within the sport – the UCI has introduced a series of new measures that appears to set many of the newly awarded races up for immediate failure.
The sport’s governing body announced several new reforms on Thursday (January 12) that diminish the standing of its new top-tier races and put their long-term existence potentially at risk.
When originally announced, the new races – including Britain’s RideLondon – were told that unlike historic WorldTour races, not all of the 18 top-level teams had to compete and that their participation was voluntary.
Now, however, each new race must attract at least 10 WorldTour outfits, otherwise it faces having its WorldTour licence revoked.
The amended rules state: “Events registered on the UCI WorldTour calendar for the first time in 2017 and thereafter shall ensure the participation of a minimum of 10 UCI WorldTeams in their events.
“In case of failure by one of these events to ensure the participation of 10 UCI WorldTeams during two consecutive editions, the registration of the said event shall be withdrawn from the UCI WorldTour calendar.”
The major changes to the 2017 WorldTour
Race like Omloop Het Niewusblad and Strade Bianche are popular among the sport’s best teams so are unlikely to suffer the consequences of the UCI’s latest changes, but China’s Tour of Guangxi is one race that is expected to struggle to meet the new requirements.
Although RideLondon coincides with the Tour of Poland and Clásica de San Sebastián this year, it should stave off the threat of having its WorldTour licence revoked because of a recent partnership with Velon, which says that the 11 Velon teams are committed to riding the British event for the next three years.
However, because of the race clash and the Velon commitment, it means 11 of the WorldTour teams will have to field teams in all races on the last weekend of July, and just one week after the finish of the Tour de France.
The WorldTour reforms have caused a heated debated within cycling, with some saying that is no longer obvious what the WorldTour constitutes anymore such is its expansion, while the Tour of Qatar was cancelled, citing sponsorship problems.
The UCI confirmed that points would be earned from all races which would contribute towards the WorldTour individual and team rankings.
Teams licence changes
The UCI revealed further changes to affect the highest level of the sport. A current WorldTour licence will now only last until the end of the 2018 season, and any new WorldTour teams for next year will only be awarded a one year licence.
These amendments are because the Professional Cycling Council is to determine how teams are given a WorldTour licence from 2019.
The lowest-ranked team in the WorldTour rankings applying for top-level status from 2019 and beyond will be adjudged to have not fulfilled the sporting criteria to retain their WorldTour licence.
UCI rules say: “In this respect, a team that has participated in the season just completed will have the choice of being evaluated either on the basis of its riders from the season just completed or on riders contracted for the following season.
“New teams can only be evaluated on the basis of riders contracted for the following season. Only riders whose contract for the following season has been submitted to the auditors by 20 October at the latest shall be considered in the said evaluation.”
Therefore, Pro-Continental teams who wish to make the step up to WorldTour would need to have a good number of points from its current roster, and from signings it had made for the following season.