There are big changes coming to the UCI World Tour as of 2017 – the top tier of elite road cycling which includes the three Grand Tours; the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana.
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body of the sport, announced the changes at the World Championships taking place this week in Richmond, USA, with new races, increased team stability and a more developed ranking system all on the cards.
The changes are said to be the biggest in the sport since the World Tour took over from the ProTour in 2011, and will see a variety of new rules roll in across the sport which a UCI statement says are aimed at “building on the successes achieved so far in restoring credibility in the sport.”
A major talking point is the introduction of a completely new ranking system that will take hold at the start of the 2017 season. The new rankings will include professionals across the sport, from lower levels to the elite riders, with “individual specialist rankings” also expected to be introduced for sprinters, climbers, stage riders and one-day riders.
There will still be a maximum of 18 teams on the World Tour, but a big change will see these teams granted three year licenses, to “encourage investment leading to increased stability in team structures.” Basically, it should allow for more growth, investment and progression within the teams and more all-round permanence in the sport.
Finally, new races will be involved, with the UK’s RideLondon-Surrey Classic potentially amongst those being upgraded, and the teams will have to follow a ‘new set of operational requirements’, known as the “Cahier des Charges”.
The new requirements are ten-fold, and include the number of cyclists any one team can have and the number of cyclists any one coach can look after. This should make anti-drug procedures even stricter and doping less likely on the Tour.
Speaking after the announcement, UCI President Brian Cookson said: “These are important changes that will help to further enhance men’s professional road cycling and aid its global growth and development.
“The measured announced today will help to bring greater stability and growth to men’s professional road cycling while also opening the door to greater technological innovation and fan engagement.
“By implementing these key reforms, the UCI is sending a strong signal to cycling fans, broadcasters and commercial partners about the continued improvements in the governance and organisational structures of our sport. This is an important moment for professional cycling and another major step forward as we continue to restore truth and credibility.”