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by Shane Stokes
December 9, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
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It’s been a long and bumpy path but, according to the UCI on Tuesday, a consensus has been reached on the subject of planned reforms to the UCI’s WorldTour.
“Following a two-day meeting held in Barcelona, Spain, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and key stakeholders of men’s professional road cycling have agreed on the details of the reform,” cycling’s governing body said in a statement.
“Coming after two years of dialogue and consultation amongst all stakeholders, the seminar brought together representatives of over 25 UCI WorldTour events, the 18 UCI WorldTeams and representatives of riders.”
CyclingTips understands that no vote was held. A source stated that objections were not raised by the stakeholders.
Last month one of those stakeholders, the International Association of Cycling Race Organisers (AIOCC), had voted 70 to six opposing the reforms in their current presentation.
It had called for a working group “to be set up as soon as possible that brings together all the stakeholders in order to propose the appropriate corrective measures.”
It is unclear if the AIOCC considers the two-day meeting to fit that criteria. If so, and providing no further objections are raised, more detailed planning in relation to the reforms can proceed.
The UCI said that four ‘guiding principles’ of the reforms which had been approved by the UCI management committee in September had formed the bulk of the discussions. These were credibility, globalisation, engaging fans and strengthening the pyramid.
It said that the major aim was to boost further investment in the sport through greater stability and credibility, and thus achieve growth and to reinforce the sport’s structures.
“I am convinced that this reform will enable us to showcase the best of men’s professional road racing,” said UCI president Brian Cookson, responding to the talks. “Road cycling’s strengths lie in its variety, its season-long narrative, its accessibility to fans and its global nature.
“The UCI WorldTour needs to embrace these strengths and effectively promote them while celebrating the richness of the season and the performances of its actors.”
He said that a collective vision was needed by all involved, and insisted that the sport will benefit as a result.
“This reform respects existing rights, ensures stability for organisers and teams and encourages stakeholders to work together, ultimately reinforcing the credibility and integrity of cycling.
“We all need to feel responsible for the image of our sport. All of us need to realise that it is only by making our sport more sustainable, that we will create new opportunities for all.”
He added that he was pleased with the collaboration shown in the past two years and was looking forward for the changes to be implemented in that same spirit.
While details are still to be worked out, the UCI has outlined what is in place at this point in time. It said that the existing calendar would form the base, but that there was the possibility of ‘strategic growth to enhance the season.’
Existing WorldTour races will be registered for a three year period, starting in 2017, while those from the level below WorldTour will be able to apply to join.
These latter events will be assessed next season and, if they meet the range of criteria, will also be granted three year licences from 2017.
The UCI added that a Professional Calendar Working Group will be formed with the goal of helping stakeholders to work together.
This will be administered by the UCI and will have two representatives each from the teams’ association AIGCP and the AIOCC. There will be one observer representing the riders.
That group will advise the UCI’s Professional Cycling Calendar on this area of the sport.
Teams will also be granted three year licences, starting 2017. Those licences will be reviewed each year based on ethical, financial, administrative and organisational criteria. Another element, that of sporting performance, will be assessed over the longer three year period.
Next year’s UCI WorldTour will begin with the Santos Tour Down Under on January 19. A new women’s WorldTour will commence with the Strade Bianche race on March 5.