UCI president David Lappartient has announced that all of cycling's so-called stakeholders – the UCI, teams, riders and race organisers – have unanimously approved reform to the structure of the men's WorldTour for the 2020 season and beyond. The news comes after a meeting of the UCI Management Committee during the UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck.
As revealed by Cyclingnews on Monday, the UCI has back-tracked on plans to reduce the number of WorldTour teams from 18 to 15, but the 18 WorldTour teams will be obliged the WorldTour races on the calendar. These will include the three Grand Tours, stage races and a series of one-day races that will be bundled together and called the UCI Classics Series. The new series will include the five Monuments and up to 15 so-called top-tier events, though the details have yet to be thrashed out by the stakeholders.
Teams will obliged to have between 27 and 30 riders to ensure they can field rosters in all the WorldTour races. This will please the CPA riders association, which is concerned about job losses due to recent team reductions, but it will raise the costs for teams and limit places for smaller teams in the 'new' WorldTour races such as the Tour of California. The WorldTour will consist of approximately 185 days of racing.
There will be an unlimited number of Professional Continental teams – renamed UCI ProTeams - and UCI Continental teams. A new UCI ProSeries, to be launched in 2020, will be made up of a selection of current HC and Class 1 events and races designated to be "of high strategic importance for the development of cycling."
For the 2020 season, 18 WorldTour places will be awarded based on ethical, administrative, financial, organisational and sporting criteria. A new UCI World Ranking for teams will be calculated on the results of the 10 best riders of each team across all races on the UCI international calendar. The WorldTour licences will last three years, with an open system allowing new teams to apply for one of the 18 WorldTour spots.
The latter introduction is a nod to the Grand Tour organisers' demands that the UCI include a system for promotion to, and demotion from, the WorldTour.
The 2019 UCI World Ranking, and by extension, the points accumulated in races, will likely prove decisive in deciding which 18 teams secure a place in the new-look 2020 WorldTour. French Pro Continental team Direct Energie has already said it will challenge the current 18 teams for a place and has signed Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra from Quick-Step Floors in an attempt to score vital ranking points. Other contenders could emerge, resulting in several current teams being relegated from the WorldTour at the end of next season.
Fewer wildcard places
In one of the most significant changes, the UCI has ruled that the two best-ranked UCI ProTeams from the new look ProSeries will have the right to participate in the Grand Tours. As a consequence, race organisers will be able to award fewer wildcard invitations to other teams based on business or nationality reasons. The three best UCI ProTeams will have the right to participate in events in the UCI Classics Series and in other events of the UCI WorldTour.
The UCI admitted that some details of the WorldTour reforms are still to be finalised but said they will be done during "the continuation of constructive discussions between stakeholders with a view to their approval by the PCC and the UCI Management Committee."
The UCI press release confirming the new WorldTour suggested the new structure will "encourage new partners to come on board, improve cycling's global visibility and support its development at all levels."
UCI President David Lappartient was the first to reveal the reforms on social media, posting a photo of himself with the other stakeholder representatives.
"I am very happy that all together, we have reached a favourable consensus for all stakeholders of men's professional road cycling: teams, riders, organisers, sponsors and fans alike," Lappartient said.
"We now have a solid basis for continuing the development of our sport so that it becomes one of the major professional sports in the world, THE sport of the 21st century.
"I warmly thank everyone involved, Iwan Spekenbrink, President of the Association Internationale des Groupes Cyclistes Professionnels (AIGCP), Gianni Bugno, President of the Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA), and Christian Prudhomme, President of the Association Internationale des Organisateurs de Courses Cyclistes (AIOCC), for jointly carrying through this vision of professional cycling and overcoming potential differences. Together, we are stronger."