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Cycling gets more global

Racing booms in Australia and the Tour Down Under becomes even bigger

Racing booms in Australia and the Tour Down Under becomes even bigger
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)

The UCI ProTour Council (UPTC) held its first meeting of the year on Friday in Brussels. It included new members Roger Legeay, Ramon Mendiburu, Stephen Roche and Erik Zabel and returning members UCI President Pat McQuaid, UCI Road Commission President Joop Atsma and riders' representative Paulo Couto. Attendees discussed several topics including the UCI's progress toward globalization of the sport of cycling and its anti-doping biological passport program.

The meeting opened with Philippe Chevallier, the Director of the UCI Road Department, describing how the UCI has beem moving toward one of its strategic priorities: globalization. Data from 2000 to 2010 shows the trend toward globalization. Ten years ago, the first division teams came from eight countries on two continents, whereas this season the teams come from 11 countries on three continents. The number of second and third division teams has more than doubled: 147 teams from 43 countries on five continents today, compared with 72 teams from 19 countries on two continents in 2000.

The UCI Doctor, Mario Zorzoli, presented a positive assessment of the first two years of the biological passport program. He emphasised what the UCI called in a press release "encouraging changes of behaviour in the great majority of riders covered by the programme designed to combat doping". Information from the biological passport program has been used to target riders for anti-doping testing as well as to serve as a general deterrent. The program, costing nine million Swiss francs in 2009, will continue in cooperation with various anti-doping organizations.

The council approved the implementation of a UCI labelling system for bicycle frames in 2011 and also approved the principle of solidarity between UCI ProTeams and National Federations. The federations will receive a certain number of bikes at the end of each season under this solidarity scheme.

In the final portion of the meeting, registration procedures were discussed for UCI ProTeams and UCI Professional Continental teams. The UPTC decided to make some amendments to these procedures in order to optimise them for the 2011 season.

The UPTC will meet next in Birmingham, Great Britain, on June 16.