UCI backtracks on plans to reduce number of WorldTour teams

Cycling’s governing body has been planning changes for the sport and has announced some amendments

UCI president David Lappartient
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

The current WorldTour ranking system takes into account the performances of all riders taking part in WorldTour events, including professional continental teams.

The number of wildcard places at the Grand Tours will be reduced, while the two best UCI ProSeries teams will automatically be given the chance to ride in the three-week races.

UCI president David Lappartient said: “I am very happy that all together, we have reached a favourable consensus for all stakeholders of men’s professional road cycling: teams, riders, organisers, sponsors and fans alike.

Alterations to the sport have been approved by the members of the Professional Cycling Council, a body made up of teams, riders and organisers.

“We now have a solid basis for continuing the development of our sport so that it becomes one of the major professional sports in the world, the sport of the 21st century.”

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The second and third divisions will be renamed – pro continental will become the UCI ProSeries division, while continental will become the UCI Continental Circuits division.

From 2020, the WorldTour will comprise of the three Grand Tours, the other stages races, the one-day races and five Monuments in a new 'UCI Classics Series'.

The full details of the Classics Series have yet to be confirmed, but each event will be guaranteed for three years and the series will consist of 185 days of racing.

WorldTour team criteria

Further details about the new structure are expected to be released before the start of the season.

The UCI has announced part of its plan for restructuring professional cycling and has rowed back on plans to reduce the number of WorldTour teams.

Reason for the changes

The changes, which will be rolled out gradually from 2019, include alterations to the three current professional cycling divisions - WorldTour, pro continental and continental.

WorldTour Ranking scrapped

The UCI says this will enable a comparison between existing WorldTour teams and new candidates for WorldTour status.

During the summer, the UCI announced plans to reduce the number of WorldTour teams from 18 to 15, but this idea was strongly opposed by teams themselves.

UCI officials are meeting in Innsbruck, Austria during the road World Championships to discuss the future of the sport.

WorldTour calendar and 'Classics Series'

According to the UCI, this is to take into account sporting achievements when choosing teams for WorldTour races.

From the end of 2019, and then every three years, 18 WorldTour teams will be given licences based on five criteria: ethical, administrative, financial, organisational, and sporting.

Plans to reduce the number of WT teams from 18 to 15 have also been scrapped, after protests from teams.

Grand Tour wildcards

According to the UCI, the new structure is designed "to improve the narrative of the season and the stability of the system, encourage new partners to come on board, improve cycling's global visibility and support its development at all levels."

From next season, the UCI WorldTour ranking system will also be scrapped and replaced with a new UCI World Ranking.

The World Ranking will include rankings for all individual riders across the three divisions, rankings for each nation and new team rankings which take into account the results of the 10 best riders of each team in all divisions.

The three best ProSeries teams will also have the right to take part in the UCI Classics Series and other WorldTour events.

New plans for the pro cycling season were revealed on Tuesday evening.

Cycling’s governing body has revealed that the minimum number of riders on a WorldTour team will be increased from 23 to between 27 and 30.