UCI reduces number of WorldTour teams, expands calendar in 2017

Compromise with ASO brings back its races

The UCI announced on Thursday that the Professional Cycling Council (PCC), stakeholders of men's professional road cycling, agreed on the next steps of the WorldTour reform and approved the 2017 UCI WorldTour calendar in a meeting held on Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland.

The UCI stated in the press release that the calendar will comprise "all existing UCI WorldTour races – including those in the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) portfolio." The agreement on the calendar is a milestone-step reached between the UCI and ASO, as the two entities have displayed a public power struggle over the details of the reforms in the last year.

The UCI also stated that the WorldTour will introduce new events to the calendar, and that these events will have three-year licences. The full 2017 UCI WorldTour calendar will be announced soon.

"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," said UCI President Brian Cookson. "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."

AIOCC President, Christian Prudhomme added, "I am delighted that an agreement could be found that will help the sport of cycling as a whole."

As for WorldTour teams, there will be 17 teams next year and each will be granted a two-year licence for 2017 and 2018, but the goal is to reduce the number of teams to 16 a year later, and for it to be set at 16 teams for 2019 and beyond.

The UCI described how the new WorldTour system will work in its statement, which read, "From the end of the 2018 season onwards, there will be an annual challenge system, based on an overall annual sporting classification, between the last ranked UCI WorldTeam and the top Pro Continental Team to enter as a UCI WorldTeam in the following season.

"In the event that a UCI WorldTeam drops out of the top tier, that team will have the right to participate in all the following season's UCI WorldTour events, meaning that UCI WorldTeams will have stability for the three seasons 2017 to 2019."

Starting next year, all existing UCI WordTour events will have all UCI WorldTeams participating. However, for the new UCI WorldTour events, participation rules that will ensure that a minimum of 10 UCI WorldTeams take part will be proposed by the UCI for approval at the next meeting of the PCC.

"I am very pleased that the proposed reform has reached a large consensus," said David Lappartient, President of the PCC. "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."

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