The UCI announced today the creation of a World Cycling Tour for amateur racers, a series of up to 15 qualifying events leading up to age group world championships.
The UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT) confirmed seven events so far leading up to the UWCT "finals", the age group world championships for amateurs in Liège, Belgium on September 10-11, 2011.
Provincial Commissioner for Sport, Christophe Lacroix, revealed a tentative plan for a circuit of around 100km, incorporating the famed climbs of Liège-Bastogne-Liège such as the Côte de Wanne, Rosier and Vecquée, and likely ending with local circuits in Stavelot.
"It's no coincidence that the UWCT and the UCI WorldTour (former ProTour) have such similar names," explained UCI president Pat McQuaid. "We want the amateur cyclist who is devoted to the sport to have a taste of high level racing, and ultimately race for a World Champion title. The UWCT is how we are going to take amateur cycling to the next level. We are really looking forward to the opening of the series."
The first qualifying event will take place in Perth, Australia on April 14 and 16, followed by the Gran Fondo New York on May 8, the Gran Fondo Eddy Merckx in Portugal on May 15. Events in Slovenia, Belgium, Colorado (USA) and Switzerland have also been confirmed.
All qualifying events will be raced over a course of between 100 and 180 km. Organisers have the opportunity to opt for either a one-loop stage or a smaller circuit to be covered several times. The start may be given en masse or by age group. Time trial events will also take place in some qualifiers, covering distances between 20 and 40 km.
Confirmed UWCT events for 2011:
14 and 16 April: Perth (Australia)
8 May: Gran Fondo New York (USA)
15 May: Gran Fondo Eddy Merckx - Village Palmela (Portugal)
12 June: Marathon Franja BTC (Slovenia)
18 June: Gran Fondo Eddy Merckx (Belgium)
20 and 21 August: Echelon Gran Fondo Colorado / Fort Collins (USA)
28 August: Gruyère Cycling Tour (SUI)
10-11 September 2011: Stavelot, province of Liège, Belgium
More information on www.uciworldcyclingtour.com