The UCI has opened the door for an additional Chinese stage race to the WorldTour calendar at a meeting of the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) in Geneva on Friday, after the Tour of Hanghzou was pencilled in to take place on October 17-21 of this year.
The new race would take place immediately after the Tour of Beijing, which is already fixed for October 10-14. It would thus become the final event on the WorldTour calendar, as the Tour of Lombardy has already been shifted from its traditional October date to September 29.
The Tour of Hanghzhou will be confirmed on the calendar once the Licence Commission approves its application for a UCI WorldTour licence. While that process should prove a formality, it remains to be seen how the 18 WorldTour teams and their riders will respond to the addition of another five days of racing in China at the tail end of the season.
“It is a natural step for cycling which is currently enjoying a period of huge growth worldwide,” UCI president Pat McQuaid said in a statement issued by the governing body late on Friday afternoon. “This will generate great visibility for teams and riders and can be expected to give a big boost to cycling. The injection of funding directly benefits the sport with financial returns from the new races re-invested into cycling and also profiting teams and other stakeholders down the line.
“It is no secret that success breeds success and the current boom in cycling is good news for cyclists and cycling lovers across the board. We are very pleased with today’s decision which comes as part of UCI’s ongoing sustainable development of the sport.”
The UCI did not name the race organiser in the press release, but its own organising entity GCP (Global Cycling Promotion) is already responsible for the Tour of Beijing.
The addition of the Tour of Hanghzou brings to 28 the number of events on the WorldTour calendar, and is the fifth to be held outside of Europe, alongside the Tour Down Under, GP de Montréal, GP de Québec and Tour of Beijing.
Saxo Bank to lose WorldTour slot?
During its two-day gathering in Geneva, the UCI also confirmed that it will ask the Licence Commission to rule on whether Saxo Bank should retain its place in the WorldTour following the suspension of Alberto Contador. “If the points obtained by Alberto Contador, representing approximately 68 percent of the Saxo Bank-Sungard team's total points, are disregarded, his team would no longer be considered to fulfil the sporting criterion required for the UCI WorldTour,” read the UCI statement.