On Tuesday, the UCI Management Committee and the Professional Cycling Council slightly changed the organization and structure of men’s cycling. Previous reforms that were proposed like the reduction of the number of UCI WorldTour teams to 15 were rejected while new invitation criteria for major events will be put into effect by 2020. The changes announced at the Innsbruck World Championships are a relabelling of the current structure with slight changes to the way teams can get invited to the Grand Tours and Classics.
“I am very happy that all together, we have reached a favourable consensus for all stakeholders of men’s professional road cycling: teams, riders, organizers, sponsors and fans alike,” said UCI president David Lappartient. “We now have a solid basis for continuing the development of our sport so that it becomes one of the major professional sports in the world”
Cycling’s three major divisions
The calendar UCI races across the world are divided into remains three divisions but each get new names. The calendar will be made up of events on the UCI WorldTour, UCI ProSeries and UCI Continental Circuits. The teams that compete on this calendar will also be comprised of three divisions with 18 UCI WorldTeams with rosters of 27 to 30 riders compromising the highest level of the sport. UCI ProTeams, which were previously called UCI Professional Continental, make up the second division and UCI Continental Teams make up the bottom division. The two lower divisions can be made up of an unlimited number of teams.
From 2019 onwards, every three years, 18 teams will be awarded UCI WorldTour licenses that are good for three seasons based on ethical, administrative, financial, organizational and sporting criteria.
The new WorldTour and ProSeries
The UCI WorldTour calendar also undergoes a slight tweaking. It will include all three Grand Tours, other major stage races and the new UCI Classics Series. The Classics Series will include the five Monuments of cycling (Milano-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and Il Lombardia) along with 15 other top-tier events and other one-day races. It’s not yet clear how this will affect Canada’s Grands Prix Cyclistes de Québec et Montréal. The UCI WorldTour will total about 185 days of racing. To be on this calendar, the events will be guaranteed for three years.
The new UCI ProSeries will be launched in 2020 and be made up of current HC and Class 1 events. The other events that currently make up the five continental UCI Tour calendar (America, Asia, Europe, Oceanica and Africa) will be on the UCI Continental Circuits.
New invitation criteria for Grand Tours and the Classics
The UCI will implement new invitation criteria by 2020 for teams to attend the Classics and Grand Tours. The changes give ProTeams a clear roadmap to invitations to major races. The two best placed UCI ProTeams will be invited to the GrandTours reducing the number of wildcards distributed by the organizers from four to two. The top three UCI ProTeams will also get automatic invites to the events on the UCI Classics Series and other UCI WorldTour race which will reduce the number wildcard invitations organizers can give out to these events.
International ranking system
One of the most immediate changes will be to the ranking system. The UCI will get rid of the current UCI WorldTour Ranking and simply use a single global individual UCI World Rankings. Nations and teams will be ranked on the UCI World Ranking as well. All three divisions will be ranked by the 10 best performing riders on each team according to their results in all races on the UCI Road International Calendar. The individual, teams and nations rankings will continue to be published for the five UCI Continental Circuits.