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UCI and ASO agree on future of WorldTour

Brian Cookson UCI headquarters
Josh Cunningham
24 Jun 2016

The UCI has released details of the WorldTour's future structure, and it includes the Tour de France.

The quarrelling between the UCI and ASO - organisers of the Tour de France and other high-profile events - has long posed a threat to the stability of the sport, especially in its upper echelons. But an announcement from the former, which details reforms set to be implemented in 2017 and beyond, implies that an agreement has been made. 

The announcement comes after a meeting between the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) and key stakeholders in men's professional road cycling in Geneva, Switzerland, to finalise reforms. 'This marks another important step in the reform of men's professional cycling, and I am very pleased that we now have our stakeholders behind what represents the future of our sport,' said UCI President Brian Cookson. 

Key changes to the top tier of the sport, the UCI WorldTour, include a reduction of the number of participating teams but an increase in the number of contributary races. All current UCI WorldTour races, including the ASO's Tour de France, are set to keep their place on the calendar, but will be joined by some new events, which will be given a three-year license to remain in that top tier.

The new calendar, the UCI says, 'will further globalise the UCI WorldTour and strengthen the season-long narrative'. Christian Prudhomme, president of the international race organisers' association AIOCC, said he was 'delighted that an agreement could be found that will help the sport of cycling as a whole'.

In a change from the current single-season licence set-up, WorldTour teams will now be issued a two-year licence covering the 2017 and 2018 seasons. However, their number will drop to 17 from the current 18, with the aim of a further reduction to 16 teams in 2018 and beyond. From the end of the 2018 season, an 'annual challenge system' will be introduced, a promotion-relegation system whereby the last ranked WorldTour team is replaced by the highest ranked Pro Continental team in the UCI WorldTour. The relegated team will still retain the right to particpate in all the following season's WorldTour events, but they will no longer be obliged to. 

'It is a great step in making cycling a more attractive and global sport, while respecting its roots and history,' said PCC President David Lappartient. But while it's certainly promising news that the Tour de France will remain a part of the UCI WorldTour, exactly how global the new events will make it remains to be seen. 

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