UCI president Brian Cookson has presented his re-worked plans for the reforms for cycling to race organisers in a meeting in Oudenaarde, Belgium. The reforms are set to come into effect in 2017 and hope to reduce the number of race days on the cycling calendar, which could see several organisers being forced to cut days from their events. Cookson is aware that he has a battle on his hands but remains confident of things going ahead as planned.
“There has been some resistance,” Cookson told Het Nieuwsblad after the meeting. “But with the flexibility we have in this system we will have it in place in 2017.”
Under current proposals the plan is to reduce the number of WorldTour race days from 153 to 120. Belgian Cycling President and UCI Road Commission chairman, Tom Van Damme suggests that this could be done by reducing the Grand Tours by three days and turning a number of stage races into a series of one-day events, such as the current format in Canada with the GPs de Quebec and Montreal. In an interview with the Spanish media earlier this week Cookson said that he would be prepared to cut the Grand Tours down from three weeks.
According to the report, Cookson also introduced the idea of a Challenge Tour during the meeting. The series would be a level below the WorldTour and would follow a similar format to that seen in football. The two series would work with a relegation/promotion system where the bottom team in the WorldTour would drop down and the top team in the Challenge Tour would see themselves move into the top tier. Ethical issues such as multiple doping infractions could also send a team out of the WorldTour and into the Challenge Tour.