The UCI’s Professional Cycling Council (PCC) confirmed the 2015 WorldTour calendar, during its annual meeting at the World Championships in Ponferrada, Spain this week.
One of the key issues that the Council decided upon, was to end its four-year relationship with the Tour of Beijing.
UCI President Biran Cookson said, "I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the organizers of the Tour of Beijing as we head toward the fourth and final edition of that race and the role it has played in helping to build the profile of road racing in Asia.”
Many speculate that the five-day Tour met it’s demise by a number of concerns. Some suggest, that Chinese officials simply lost interest in funding the event. Or, reform and restructuring within the UCI, felt that it was best to get out from under the pallor of suspicion that came about, when former Presidents Pat McQuaid, and Hein Vebruggen catapulted the event to WorldTour status, when the UCI held a financial stake in the event.
Cookson is scheduled to hold a press conference Friday, and will likely address the issue.
However, despite the removal of the Asian event, there are no major changes for 2015, with the season kicking-off with the Santos Tour Down Under in Australia in January, and coming to a close with the Giro di Lombardia in October.
The dates for the three major grand tours are as follows:
In addition, some potential changes may come in the way of a reduction in the number of riders per team, along with a reduction in the number of race days. Moreover, the Council suggested that the UCI may also reduce the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España to less than three weeks.
“The reform of the UCI WorldTour remains on track,” Cookson said in a statement.
“I am delighted with the cooperation shown by stakeholders over the last few
months to move forward and ensure a simplified and more robust financial structure of the UCI WorldTour and look forward to further developing professional cycling’s showcase in 2015 and beyond.”
Needless to say, these inferences have raised the concerns of race officials who are involved with the Giro and Vuelta.
Indeed, Vuelta a España director Javier Guillén said the Spanish tour, which is owned by Tour de France owners ASO, was opposed to reducing the Vuelta to less than three weeks.
In other discussions, the UCI confirmed its interest in furthering the inclusion of such technology as “bike cameras, geo-location technology, and audio-visual content” for 2015.
The Professional Cycling Council (PCC) has today agreed the 2015 UCI WorldTour calendar and the next steps of the reform of men’s professional cycling at its two-day meeting in Ponferrada, Spain where the 2014 UCI Road World Championships are taking place.
The 2015 UCI WorldTour calendar builds on the continued globalisation of the sport which this year saw a record number of teams and riders compete. Other key achievements that demonstrate the global growth of the UCI WorldTour included the first African team to participate in a Grand Tour, the first Chinese rider to compete in the Tour de France, the first Columbian winner of the Giro d’Italia, and every pink jersey of the Giro being worn by riders born outside of Europe.
The PCC confirmed its commitment to build on a number of technical innovations that have been trialled in 2014 including bike cameras, geo-location technology and audio visual content to further enrich the viewer experience.
The PCC also confirmed its continued dialogue with all stakeholders on the reform of men’s professional cycling, including its commercial strategy, which will be fully implemented by 2017 in spirit of consensus. The final details of the reform plan will be shared with all stakeholders on the occasion of the UCI WorldTour Seminar in December this year. Finally the PCC confirmed that the 2014 Tour of Beijing (10-14 October) will be the last of the current edition.
Commenting on the PCC meeting, UCI President Brian Cookson said: “As we are getting close to the last two events in the 2014 UCI WorldTour, Il Lombardia and the Tour of Beijing, we can all reflect on what has been a fantastic season which demonstrated some tangible proof of the global growth of the UCI WorldTour. We are convinced that the UCI WorldTour has now entered a new and exciting era.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the organisers of the Tour of Beijing as we head towards the fourth and final edition of that race and the role it has played in helping to build the profile of road racing in Asia.
“The reform of the UCI WorldTour remains on track. I am delighted with the cooperation shown by stakeholders over the last few months to move forward and ensure a simplified and more robust financial structure of the UCI WorldTour and look forward to further developing professional cycling’s showcase in 2015 and beyond.”
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