World's road race not shortened

The International Cycling Union UCI has rejected a proposal from the Salzburg organising committee of the 2006 World Championships to shorten the men's road race from 265 to 220 kilometres. As previously reported, race organisers wanted to cut the event's distance from 12 to ten laps to make the racing more exciting.

But the UCI's Road Commission disagreed with the plan, saying that the World's are "one of the biggest events on the international calendar. Like Milano-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Paris-Tours and the Giro di Lombardia, the World's live on the myth which is created by a distance of 250 to 280 kilometres. We don't want to change that."

The UCI's Philippe Chevallier argued that the new participation rules made the event more attractive. "[The Madrid World's] were exciting from the very beginning until the end, raced fast with average speeds of 42 km/h," explained Chevallier in a letter to the organisers. "An important aspect is the reduction of team sizes from 12 riders for the greatest nations to nine since last year. The race is more open because of it, as the greatest nations are finding it harder to implement their tactics."

The organisational advantages of shortening the race (a reduction of TV production costs and les traffic problems in the city) were not considered valid arguments. The organisers have accepted the UCI's decision, but added that "in the future, it would make sense to consider the interests of all the concerned parties, which include the athletes - the main actors -, the spectators, the media, the organisation and the resident population."

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