UCI announces radical proposals to reform professional road racing

Radical proposals announced by the UCI could see the elite WorldTour replaced by three divisions of cycling, with the possibility of promotion and relegation.

The proposed reforms, announced in the governing body’s “Sport and Technical” bulletin, also contain plans for an overhaul of the racing calendar, and could be introduced in part as early 2015, before being fully implemented by 2020.

Fabian Cancellara proudly holds his cobblestone trophy at Paris-Roubaix – under the UCI’s new proposals all of the spring classics will take place in a six-week block of uninterrupted racing (pic: (c) Stefano Sirotti)

The proposals, which new UCI president Brian Cookson hopes will help promote cycling worldwide, also include plans to end the overlapping of races, and an uninterrupted, six-week block of racing around the Spring Classics.

Cookson wrote in the same bulletin: “In order to restore confidence and promote cycling all around the world, we have to transform the way in which anti-doping procedures are managed, restructure elite road cycling, develop women’s cycling and reinforce our position and influence, in particular within the Olympic Movement.

“These are immense tasks and work on them has started already.”

The announcement states the UCI Management Committee and the UCI’s Professional Cycling Council (PCC) agreed to the reform of professional cycling in meetings held during the Road World Championships in Florence; the culmination of a process begun in November 2011.

The proposed reorganisation of cycling would see the current 19-team WorldTour make way for a 16-strong first division and an eight-team second division.

Results for the former would come from 120 days of racing, with 50 days of second division racing. Professional Continental and Continental teams would form the third division, competing in events on the Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Oceania Tours.

Promotion and relegation are among the proposed ‘sporting criteria’ for the selection of first division teams. In addition, the cohort of top-tier squads will also be determined by financial, administrative and predetermined ethical criteria.

The make-up of the professional peloton could change with UCI proposals including relegation and promotion between two divisions of teams (pic: (c) Stefano Sirotti)

The proposed changes to the calendar would see racing on both days of every weekend from February to October.

First and second division races would not overlap, with stage races reduced to five or six days to accommodate this need.

Selection for the events in each division would be based on strict criteria regarding safety, while global TV broadcast and high-quality TV production would also be taken into account.

The new regulations will now be submitted to the UCI Management Committee and the PCC  for approval in January 2014.

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