UCI reforms provide pathway to grand tours

The UCI's slate of reforms won't reduce number of WorldTour teams and will offer ProTeams a clear pathway to the Tour de France.

Photo: BrakeThrough Media

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At a mid-September meeting in Madrid, top professional cycling teams pushed back on the UCI’s proposed plan to limit the WorldTour to 15 teams, among other changes. It seems that a compromise has been reached Tuesday as the UCI and Professional Cycling Council approved updates to the way pro men’s road cycling is organized and structured.

Some of the reforms are mostly superficial. Others could have a more fundamental impact on the season’s major races.

Most notably, the top two UCI ProTeams (the new term for Pro Continental outfits) will be guaranteed entry into the season’s three grand tours — the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, and Vuelta a España. This change will be implemented in 2020.

Additionally, the three best ProTeams will have the right to race in the UCI Classics Series.

Classics Series? Yes, in 2020 the UCI is introducing a new sub-category of the WorldTour calendar that will feature the five monument races (Milano-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and Il Lombardia) as well as up to 15 other top-tier events.

Along the same lines of reorganizing existing races, the UCI will also compile a selection of current HC- and 1-rated races to form the UCI ProSeries in 2020.

However, one change will happen right away at the start of 2019. The UCI will do away with the WorldTour ranking system and simply use UCI World Rankings. For teams, World Rankings will be calculated based on results of the 10 best riders for each team.

In what seems to be a compromise coming out of the Madrid meeting, the UCI will offer WorldTour licenses to 18 teams based on ethical, administrative, financial, organizational, and sporting criteria.

“I am very happy that all together, we have reached a favorable consensus for all stakeholders of men’s professional road cycling: teams, riders, organizers, sponsors, and fans alike,” said UCI president David Lappartient.

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