'What's the point in being a WorldTour race?' - RideLondon race director criticises UCI's latest reforms

Mick Bennett, the race director of RideLondon, has criticised the UCI's U-turn on not awarding ranking points to teams and riders in the 10 new WorldTour races

(Image credit: Andy Jones 2014)

Prudential RideLondon race director Mick Bennett has criticised the UCI’s U-turn not to award individual and team ranking points from the 10 new WorldTour races.

The sport’s governing body announced a number of changes in its latest reforms last Thursday: notably, WorldTour rankings, both individual and team, from this season will only include races that were registered on the 2016 WorldTour calendar, so the new events – like RideLondon - won’t count. This was not known to the new races when they were awarded WorldTour status back in August.

“It surprised me. I didn’t know this would the case,” Bennett told Cycling Weekly. “What’s the point in being a WorldTour race if the riders that ride won’t win any points?

>>>  UCI announces complete overhaul of WorldTour points system

"It may sound awfully naïve, but I was under the impression [that WorldTour points would be available]. It seems nonsensical to me. I don’t understand the logic behind it.

"I was at the WorldTour conference in Majorca before Christmas and although we were waiting for the new WorldTour regulations, this wasn’t even mooted and the new WorldTour events were discussed and presented at the conference.”

Additionally, all new races must now ensure the participation of 10 World Tour teams in their events; failure to do in two consecutive years will result in the WorldTour licence being revoked.

Update yourself on some of the major changes to the 2017 WorldTour

When awarded top-level status, new races were told that the participation of WorldTour teams was voluntary, and that they didn’t have to attract a minimum number of WorldTour teams, unlike historic WorldTour races which must field all 18 of the highest-tier teams.

RideLondon has secured a three-year partnership with Velon, meaning that the 10 WorldTour teams who have signed up to Velon will race in London.

Bennett also confirmed that, largely due to the €100,000 prize money  - the biggest in cycling - several more WorldTour teams have applied to race RideLondon.

>>> What is Velon, and what will it do?

However, the amended rules mean that races like the Tour of Turkey – which attracted just two WorldTour teams in 2016 – and the new Chinese race, Tour of Guangxi, face a potential existential threat.

“I feel sorry for the Tour of Turkey organiser,” Bennett, who also runs the Tour of Britain, said. “They had very few WorldTour teams in 2016 and it will only get even worse for them.

“The costs are quite incredible to be a WorldTour race and the benefits are marginal. It would be more preferable not to award WorldTour status [to some races].

"A lot of the team managers are saying that there is no way they can ride all of the WorldTour calendar and I totally get that."

Another new rule is that riders can only ride a maximum of 85 race days; in 2016, 32 riders, including Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) exceeded that figure.

However, a rider can seemingly still ride more than the maximum days if the team’s sport director can “demonstrate the rider in question was afforded with adequate care and rest”, the rules state.

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