The International Cycling Union (UCI) has revealed an expanded calendar for its 2017 WorldTour season, with 10 new events taking the top series of men’s professional road cycling to 15 countries and four continents.
The expanded series will consist of 37 events in total. Alongside the three ‘Grand Tours’ – the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana – there will be 14 stage races and 20 one-day events.
The new multi-stage events will include the Tour of Qatar (February 6-10), Abu Dhabi Tour (February 23-26), Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey (April 18-23) and the Tour of California (May 14-21).
WorldTour licences have also been granted to one-day races in the shape of Australia’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (January 29), Belgium’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (February 25), Italy’s Strade Bianche (March 4), Belgium’s Dwars Door Vlaanderen / A travers la Flandre (March 22), Germany’s Eschborn-Frankfurt « Rund um den Finanzplatz » (May 1) and Great Britain’s RideLondon-Surrey Classic (July 30).
The UCI said the application process for events to join the WorldTour from 2017 was met with “significant interest” from race organisers, with successful applicants being awarded three-year registrations running from 2017 to 2019. They join the existing WorldTour events, all of which have also been awarded registrations for the same period.
This was largely made possible after the UCI in June unveiled revised reform plans for the WorldTour with the powerful Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) back on board for the 2017 road racing season after issuing a breakaway threat. In December, ASO said it would withdraw its races, which include the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana, from the WorldTour calendar in 2017 in protest over the reforms being implemented in the sport.
As in previous years, the season will begin on January 17-22 with the Tour Down Under in Australia, and finish with Italy’s Il Lombardia on September 30. UCI president Brian Cookson said: “The publication of this new calendar is an important step in the development of men’s professional road cycling. Alongside the prestigious events which have already proven their worth, the UCI WorldTour is enriched by the addition of some truly fantastic races across the globe. I’m delighted to see this development.”
The announcement of the calendar on Tuesday evening came after the UCI’s reform plans for the WorldTour seemingly hit another stumbling block last week with teams’ body the Association International des Groupes Cyclistes Professionels (AIGCP) taking exception to the terms of the latest proposal.
UCI WorldTeams will be given a two-year licence for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The number of WorldTeams will be set at 17 for 2017, with the objective to reach 16 a year later. From the 2019 season onwards, the number of WorldTeams will be set at 16.
As of 2017, all existing WorldTour events will have all WorldTeams participating and for new events, participation rules which will ensure that a minimum of 10 WorldTeams take part will be proposed by the UCI for approval at the next meeting of the Professional Cycling Council (PCC). It is this latter proposal that the AIGCP has taken exception to, stating it had been “compelled” to speak out on the matter.
The AIGCP has called for the newly-appointed WorldTour events to be responsible for attracting the participation of at least 10 WorldTour teams, without it being compulsory. Existing events in the WorldTour calendar are currently mandatory for all current WorldTour teams.