Cycling’s global governing body, the UCI, and Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), owner of races including the Tour de France, have buried the hatchet over reform of the WorldTour calendar.
Last December, ASO threatened to pull the Tour, and other races such as Paris-Nice from cycling’s top flight, saying instead that it would apply for second-tier hors catégorie status.
But following a meeting in Geneva this week of the Professional Cycling Council (PCC), both organisations as well as other stakeholders in the sport reached agreement on next year’s calendar.
It will feature all existing WorldTour races, including those organised by ASO, which besides the Tour de France include the Vuelta a Espana and Paris-Roubaix.
Races will be given three-year licences, while UCI WorldTeams – those in the top tier of the sport – will have two-year licences for 2017 and 2018, with the number of teams reducing to 16 in the latter year.
2018 will also see a form of promotion and relegation between the lowest ranked team in the WorldTour and the top-ranked Professional Continental team, based on their respective performances.
Brian Cookson, UCI president, commented: “This marks another important step in the reform of men’s professional cycling, and I am very pleased that we now have our stakeholders behind what represents the future of our sport.
“I am delighted that we can build on the heritage and prestige of the UCI WorldTour, while also welcoming newer but already successful events taking place in and outside Europe. We are committed to continuing the consultation with all stakeholders on various details of the reform.”
PCC president David Lappartient said: “I am very pleased that the proposed reform has reached a large consensus.
“Our stakeholders have agreed on a vision that will reinforce the globalisation of cycling, ensure stability for teams and organisers, while preserving the principles of an open system that will allow access to UCI WorldTour level based on sporting results.
“It is a great step in making cycling a more attractive and global sport, while respecting its roots and history.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.