Tour de France organiser ASO has reportedly partnered with Costa Rican race Vuelta Higuito with a view to turning it into a 'mini-Tour de France'. According to Costa Rican publication Nacion.com, the race will be renamed the Tour Higuito and plans to enter the UCI calendar in 2017.
The Vuelta Higuito, which takes place at the end of October, is currently not among the two UCI classified races in Costa Rica. At present, Costa Rica has just two races on the men's UCI calendar and one on the women's.
"We are transforming the Vuelta Higuito into the Tour Higuito, as in 2017 it will be run in association with ASO as part of a series of 'Tours' that they organise around the world," Costa Rican Cycling Federation (Fecoci) president William Corrales told Nacion.com. "This year, the Vuelta Higuito will be organised by the Federation and supervised by ASO."
According to the report, Fecoci met with the ASO representatives Robin Cassuto and Eric Perez in February of this year to begin discussions. While this year's race will remain as it is, the organisers have already made their applications to the UCI for next year.
In order to ensure as strong a field as possible, it is Corrales' intention to shift the date of the race to May, one week after the Tour of California – an event already organised with input from ASO.
"It's best for it to be a week after [the Tour of California] because that way a number of big riders would come," Corrales said. "We as a Federation have already made the appropriate registration for 2017. That is to say, this year will simply be an experiment, but for 2017 we are enrolled with the UCI."
Costa Rican cycling has enjoyed a big boost with the recent success of Andrey Amador (Movistar). Amador became the first rider from the country to wear the maglia rosa at the Giro d'Italia earlier this year and went on to finish eighth overall. He finished just off the podium in fourth place at the 2015 edition.