The International Cycling Union (UCI) will introduce a women’s WorldTour next year, according to Cycling Weekly.
The website said the decision was made at the UCI Women’s Teams seminar held in Siena, Italy after the inaugural edition of the Strade Bianche event last weekend. Other than the creation of the WorldTour, delegates are said to have discussed the creation of tiers of competition and increased professionalisation over the coming five years.
Cycling Weekly said the WorldTour competition will begin in 2016 taking the place of the World Cup, which starts with the Ronde van Drenthe event in the Netherlands this weekend. Rather than the current format of 10 one-day races, the WorldTour will include stage races and some new events, totalling 30 race days.
While no calendar has yet been set, it is believed the current World Cup races will remain intact. Talks over the team formation for the WorldTour are said to revolve around a top-tier of 10 squads, all of whom will be required to race the complete WorldTour calendar.
“The division of teams is like the men’s, but the idea behind it is completely different,” Andrea Marcellini, women’s cycling coordinator at the UCI, told Cycling Weekly. “The main idea is that it’s not going to be the WorldTour teams and the rest, our focus here is development. We don’t want to make policies for the top five teams, we want to make policies that are beneficial for all teams.
“We’re going to have two programmes where teams can fit and we can bring them towards more professionalism and better financial means in the framework of the those two different programmes. Tier one teams will have higher criteria to register and it’s going to be mandatory for them to race also the WorldTour events.”