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UCI presses ahead with controversial track cycling calendar changes

Joseph Delves
27 Sep 2019

Governing body confirms plan to move and shorten the track season but will add second series of events to allay commercial fears

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Management Committee has confirmed it is to press ahead with its formerly proposed changes to the track cycling calendar.

These controversial updates will see the World Cup change its name to the UCI Track Cycling Nations’ Cup, and the season will be cut from six rounds to three, running over the summer from July to September rather than the winter between October to January as it is now.

The current schedule means the track season clashes with the existing road calendar, while the changes will also see existing trade teams barred from the track events.

'The members of the Management Committee noted with satisfaction that the reform of track cycling announced earlier in the year was progressing to schedule,' said the UCI in a press release after meeting this week at the Road World Championships in Harrogate.

'The discipline has considerable development potential that’s not being sufficiently exploited. The reform is structured around the transformation of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup into the UCI Nations’ Cup, the shift of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships to (northern hemisphere) autumn and the creation of a new and innovative commercial circuit, formatted for television and to conquer new audiences.'

While most agreed that the track season was in need of wide reforms, the UCI's changes have been far from universally welcomed.

Closing the door to trade teams is only likely to dial up commercial pressures at an already difficult time financially, and many teams have criticised the lack of consultation by the UCI.

Since the inital proposed measures were announced, the UCI has at least tried to ease those pressures through the announcement of a new commercial competition circuit.

Set to start after the World Championships towards the end of the 2021 season, this second series of races will concentrate on shorter events. However, with the entire programme set to run in a TV-friendly two-hours, it’s questionable whether this will provide enough exposure to make commercial teams viable on the world stage.

A second consequence of elevating national squads over independent outfits is that each country’s federation will become sole gatekeeper to the sport’s elite level. Given the chequered recent history of many of these organisations, the move might have negative results for those that would rather not work with their national body.

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