CyclingTips podcast, Episode 26: Understanding the global expansion of the UCI WorldTour

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The WorldTour is the highest level of men’s road racing on the planet. It’s a collection of the world’s biggest races — the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders — and its raced by the biggest teams. And yet the WorldTour isn’t really a world tour at all.

In 2016, 24 of the 27 races on the men’s WorldTour were held in Continental Europe. Just one of the 27, the Santos Tour Down Under, was held in the Southern Hemisphere.

This year, the UCI has expanded its WorldTour in an attempt to try and make the series truly global. There’s another Australian WorldTour race, an American addition, a new race in China, and one in the United Arab Emirates, to name just a few. But while expanding the WorldTour might seem like a good idea, it certainly hasn’t been smooth sailing thus far.

There’s been speculation that the UCI’s 10 new WorldTour races in 2017 might be subject to different rules. On the topic of “participation rules for events newly entering the 2017 UCI WorldTour calendar,” the UCI’s Professional Cycling Council agreed in November that those events should invite all UCI WorldTeams, but that, “participation would be voluntary.”

Two events, the RideLondon Classic and the Abu Dhabi Tour, have made arrangements with the 11 teams in the Velon team’s group, to help secure a top-tier field. The UCI also said that the 10 new WorldTour events would be given “three year initial registrations” — essentially a trial period. To summarize, WorldTeams aren’t required to participate, and events aren’t assured they will remain in the WorldTour.

10 new events were granted WorldTour status in 2017:

  • January 29: Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (Australia)
  • February 6-10: Tour of Qatar (Qatar)
  • February 23-26: Abu Dhabi Tour (United Arab Emirates)
  • February 25: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Belgium)
  • March 4: Strade Bianche (Italy)
  • March 22: Dwars Door Vlaanderen (Belgium)
  • April 18-23: Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey (Turkey)
  • May 1: Eschborn-Frankfurt (Germany)
  • May 14-21: Amgen Tour of California (United States)
  • July 30: Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic (Great Britain)

In episode 26 of the CyclingTips podcast, we dive into the expansion of the men’s WorldTour, considering the impact on the races, the teams, and the riders. We speak to people in the know, including UCI vice president Tracey Gaudry, and look to the first of the new WorldTour events, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, as a case study of what the expanded series might hold.

We hope you enjoy.

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