Race organisers say that the re-structured WorldTour, with 11 new races spread from China to the USA, is “total chaos” and without guarantees.
The new WorldTour series starts on January 14 in Australia with the Tour Down Under. It continues with the Classics like Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France. Out of the 38 events, 11 new ones carry the WorldTour title but without the same substance.
“You need to have guarantees and know well how the calendar is organised,” director of the Giro del Trentino, Maurizio Evangelista told Cycling Weekly. “Now, it’s seems like total chaos.”
Traditionally, the UCI gave all 18 WorldTour teams the right to race and required them in every event. With the new race load, events scattered on the calendar from January to October among the historic events, teams rebelled. Going ahead, the UCI said that they would only have to attend the original 27 races and not the 11 new ones.
The RideLondon-Surrey Classic and other new events may carry the WorldTour badge for 2017, but could still look hors catégorie or HC.
The 2.HC Giro del Trentino carries much prestige among the cycling community and offers a difficult pre-Giro d’Italia ‘warm-up’ through the Alps.
The organiser, which celebrated its 40th edition in April, considered joining the WorldTour, but decided against it.
“In the first months of this year, the UCI e-mailed to the HC races a proposal to apply for the WorldTour. It had many demands but without many guarantees. A guarantee of eight WorldTour teams, but then you know now, they are not obliged to race,” added Evangelista.
“Based on last year’s tables, with all the extra prize money and reimbursement payments, only those, there was an added €120,000 (£100,000) cost in joining the WorldTour. But for what? There are no guarantees.
“I knew our backers were changing, but I avoided taking the WorldTour direction. How could I go to them and say we are going to spend 200,000 more without knowing what the licence would bring?”
The WorldTour includes two new races in the Middle East, the Tour of Qatar and the Abu Dhabi Tour. The Dubai Tour, also run by RCS Sport, decided not to apply.
“Of course, it was not very clear, and it still isn’t today,” RCS Sports and Events CEO Lorenzo Giorgetti said at the 2017 Dubai Tour presentation on Tuesday.
“There is a huge extra cost in terms of teams invited and logistic operations.”
“Whether we are WorldTour or not, we are still attracting the best teams and the big names,” Huraiz Almur Bin Huraiz, the Dubai Tour director added.
“We review it regularly, but we haven’t seen the added value of going WorldTour yet because we are still getting the benefit of attract the best teams and the stars, the known cyclists.”
The Eschborn-Frankfurt, won by Barry Hoban in 1966 and the last two years by Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), paid the extra fees and joined for 2017.
“I can’t tell you how much,” said Michael Laabs, the race’s assistant manager.
“For us, it’s image, it’s about getting better teams, it’s about getting wider TV publicity, other and bigger partners, and just getting the event on another level.
“The UCI has a couple of tools to help us. Organisation-wise, safety structures and stuff like that. They have tips and tricks, their road book, their experience from other events and races.”
Laabs, who welcomed four WorldTour teams in the 23-team roster this year when the race was HC, said that they are hoping for 10 in 2017.
“Well, not really,” he responded when asked if the UCI explained if they would make sure he had “better teams” for 2017.
“They are in talks with the teams and telling them to go and participate in the WorldTour events, but they can’t force them to come and sign up with us.”
He admitted that though his and the new 11 new races may carry the WorldTour status, they are not seen in the same light as the existing events with all 18 teams.
“We signed up for three years and we want to see what happens,” Laabs continued. “We are expecting more television hours, we just expect more countries to buy the signal and cover our race.”