Strade Bianche and Abu Dhabi Tour hoping for WorldTour status in 2017

Despite ASO’s threats, the new-look WorldTour could include 20 races

Mauro Vegni, the head of cycling at RCS Sport, has confirmed to Cyclingnews that he hopes the men’s Strade Bianche race will become part of the new-look UCI WorldTour calendar in 2017.

With Tour de France organisers ASO determined to pull their biggest races from the WorldTour, doubts remain about the future of the season-long series that is supposed to include the best races in men’s professional cycling. Vegni and RCS Sport, which also runs the Giro d'Italia, have always backed the UCI’s reforms for professional cycling and are keen to see Strade Bianche and the new end of season Abu Dhabi Tour in the WorldTour calendar.

“We’ve made a request for Strade Bianche to be added to the 2017 WorldTour. We’ve been told it’s on the short list and so it was under observation this year. Lets hope it can become part of the WorldTour. We think Strade Bianche has everything needed to go onto become one of the great Classics of the WorldTour,” Vegni told Cyclingnews.

“We’re involved in the organisation of the Abu Dhabi Tour too and it’s also on the short list. I think the UCI’s plan is to have around 20 or so races in the WorldTour but many of them are races that are already in the calendar. I don’t think all the new requests will be given WorldTour status for 2017 but we think Strade Bianche has shown it immediately deserves a place.”

Last week the UCI confirmed that 21 candidates from four different continents have applied for WorldTour status for 2017. Many of these are believed to already be part of the current WorldTour but it seems that several new races will be added to the WorldTour calendar as part of the UCI’s reforms of men’s professional road racing.

The 2016 WorldTour is comprised of 27 races, including the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, along with all the major Classics and most of the sport’s important stage races. If ASO pulls all its races from the WorldTour and registers them in lower categories, that would mean the loss of the Tour de France, Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, La Flèche Wallonne, the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Vuelta a España. That would result in a loss of seven races and several huge gaps in the WorldTour race calendar. The fact there are currently only 21 candidates for the 2017 WorldTour could be an indication of the absence of ASO’s races.

Vegni bites his lip whenever asked about fellow race organiser ASO. He has an excellent working relationship with the French company but the two biggest organisers naturally compete to secure the best riders and teams for their races. ASO will organise this year’s Tour of California, which will be in direct competition with the Giro d’Italia.

RCS Sport intends to play its part in the successful organisation of the 2017 WorldTour but refused to comment on whether the WorldTour makes sense without ASO’s races and especially without the Tour de France.

“We’ll do our WorldTour races next year but perhaps other people don’t want to be part of the WorldTour,” he said diplomatically.

“That’s their choice but they’re the ones who need to explain why they don’t want to be part of the WorldTour.”

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