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by Shane Stokes
March 2, 2016
Photography by Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos
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The UCI’s planned WorldTour reforms have the stated intention of increasing stability within the sport, granting licences for longer than before. The effects of this have been seen ten months before the start of the new season, with the UCI announcing Tuesday that there is a high demand from organisers for such licences in 2017.
Following the first meeting of the Professional Cycling Council this year, the governing body said that 21 candidates from four continents have applied for WorldTour licences for 2017 and the subsequent two seasons.
The identities of those candidates have not been made public at this point.
Under the UCI’s planned reforms, both the successful teams and the successful events will be given three year licences.
“These events will now be assessed throughout the 2016 season based on a range of criteria including technical quality of the races, their role in the strategic development and promotion of the UCI WorldTour, and the narrative of the season,” stated the UCI.
It is not clear at this point in time if the 21 candidates would be new to the WorldTour or if they include existing events at that level.
However the UCI’s release hints that the figure may refer to new applicants.
“Expansion of the UCI WorldTour will help fans’ interest across the world and throughout the year, and bring more attention not only to events joining but just as importantly to existing UCI WorldTour events, which will also be given a three-year licence from 2017,” it states.
If so, that is a considerable boost for the governing body.
It has been under pressure from Tour de France organiser ASO after the French company said the reforms were not acceptable to it. It has threatened to withdraw its events from the WorldTour calendar in 2017.
Speaking Tuesday, UCI President Brian Cookson sounded committed to pushing ahead with the reforms.
“We strongly believe that with the reform of men’s professional road cycling there is a great opportunity to grow the UCI WorldTour with a number of new events, and create an environment where new investment can come into the sport,” he stated.
He hailed the strong interest and said that the multitude of applications from four continents was proof of the increased strength of the UCI WorldTour as a brand.
“I am convinced that the addition of new high quality events will help the UCI WorldTour re-inforce its global profile as the elite series of cycling, and look forward to working with the current UCI WorldTour events, new entries and teams to develop our sport.”