New harmony with race organisers sees UCI replace ProTour with World Tour series
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Friday, October 01, 2010

New harmony with race organisers sees UCI replace ProTour with World Tour series

by Shane Stokes at 9:09 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Top 18 teams will have automatic right of participation

UCI World TourThe Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta a España and the other races organised by those organisers will join with the UCI’s previous ProTour events in 2011, awarding the right of participation to the world’s top 18 teams. The new series will be known henceforth as the UCI World Tour.

The news, which was announced today from the UCI Congress and Management Committee meetings in Melbourne, marks an important point in cooperation between the various groups involved. It also appears to bring to an end the bitter feud which marked the early years of the ProTour.

Under the agreement, 18 ProTeams will form the bulk of the places in the races on the calendar. The remaining slots will go to Professional Continental teams selected by each race organiser, thus providing room for choice in relation to wildcards.

The UCI released a statement today outlining the new arrangement.

“During its meeting, the Management Committee agreed on the formal and complete merger of the UCI ProTour and “historical” calendars, which have come under the UCI World Calendar since 2009,” it wrote.

“As a result of this decision, from the beginning of the 2011 season, all the world’s biggest races, which from now on make up the “UCI World Tour”, will be subject to the same participation rules. The UCI ProTeams, the number of which will be limited to 18, will have the right to and be obliged to participate in all the UCI World Tour events, whereas organisers will be able to invite UCI Professional Continental Teams of their choice for the remaining places.”

The statement raises questions about whether or not teams will effectively have ProTour-level licences for the usual three to four year period. Clarification will be sought but, for now, it the wording appears to suggest that those teams that do not perform to a certain level could be demoted.

“Although the conditions of registration for UCI ProTeams remain unchanged (sporting value as well as ethical, financial and administrative criteria), the sporting value will now be calculated each year according to a precise points system,” it stated.

The ProTour was first introduced in 2005 and soon led to condemnation from the Grand Tour organisers, most notably Tour de France owner ASO. They raised a number of sticking points, including the lack of a system of promotion and regulation and the loss of control of organisers in selection the teams, as well as claiming that the UCI was trying to gain control over TV revenues.

At its height, the feud saw president Pat McQuaid and the Grand Tour organisers refusing to speak to each other, as well as waging a bitter battle with the ProTour Unibet team in the middle.

In 2007, the Grand Tour organisers refused to select Unibet for any of their events. Despite having paid for an expensive ProTour licence on the basis that the UCI said that it would ride the races in question, the team was never adequately backed and ultimately collapsed.

Riders and team management claimed at the time that they were being used as pawns in the power struggle between the two sides.

In the light of those rocky times, today’s announcement marks a major step forward for the stability of the sport.


New ruling on riders’ agents, Athlete’s Commission created:


The communication also announced the approval of a proposal by the UCI ProTour Council, which also met today. It seeks to increase the professionalism of riders’ agents, standardise their functions and also provide a way to improve their monitoring.

Under the new requirements, agents will sit exams in order to qualify for a UCI riders’ agent certificate. This will be valid for four years, but those agents must also apply for a riders’ agent licence from their National Federation.

From January 1st 2012, both documents will be required to work in the industry. A list of accredited agents will be published on the UCI’s website.

Also set to be introduced is an Athlete’s Commission. It will be created within the UCI following a request from the International Olympic Committee, and will ensure that the riders have a better representation in the decision processes.

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Calendars approved (these can be viewed on the UCI website):

2011 UCI Road International Calendar,
2011 UCI Mountain Bike International Calendar
2011 UCI BMX International Calendar
2011 UCI Para-cycling International Calendar
2011 UCI Indoor Cycling International Calendar.


Note: Cambodia has now been accepted as part of the UCI

 

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