/ Cycling

UCI reveals World Series Cycling plans

Updated: Tuesday, 11 Dec 2012 12:29 | Comments

A World Series Cycling series is in the works
A World Series Cycling series is in the works

A World Series Cycling project featuring 10 grand prix races across the globe could be in place as soon as 2014.

The group are optimistic of successful negotiations with the UCI, the world governing body, over plans for 10 four-day events, which would run alongside the three Grand Tours - of Italy, France and Spain - and six of the established one-day races.

The grands prix would include a time-trial, rolling stage, mountain stage and sprint stage, with all events taking place from Thursday to Sunday.

Jonathan Price, chairman of London-based sports promoters the Gifted Group, said: "We want to see races up and running in 2014.

"We've already had discussions with broadcasters, we're confident there's a real appetite for this product.

"We're now going to start some serious discussions with potential host locations to get our first race up and running."

After three and a half years of planning, WSC, registered as a company in Luxembourg, is close to implementation.

After three and a half years of planning, WSC, registered as a company in Luxembourg, is close to implementation.

The first meeting with teams was held before the Tour de France in Rotterdam in 2010, with eight contracted teams confirmed yesterday as Garmin-Sharp, Liquigas-Cannondale, Movistar, Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Rabobank Cycling Team, Radioshack-Nissan-Trek, Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank and Vaconsoleil-DCM.

Financial backing is being provided by Czech billionaire businessman Zdenek Bakala, who owns Mark Cavendish's Omega Pharma-QuickStep team.

Bakala has led talks with the UCI since March, and, despite the world governing body being occupied by the ongoing fallout of the Lance Armstrong scandal, a conclusion to negotiations is close.

"We see this as something we wanted to do with them, because we believe it was something the marketplace wanted and was good for the sport," Price added.

"Those discussions have been positive and I hope we're getting close now to a conclusion to them.

"Clearly they have a lot on their plate right now - that probably hasn't helped - but even against that backdrop the discussions have been positive."

The structure can be compared to that of tennis, where the top male players feature in the ATP Masters 1000 events and the four grand slams, with the WTA Tour running alongside. In cycling, plans are similar, with a commitment for a parallel women's series.

The Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana would be part of the project alongside one-day races Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold Cup, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Tour of Lombardy, with a points system to award the leading rider and team at the end of the season.

Riders would race a maximum of 88 days per season, while there is a commitment for an anti-doping programme in a bid to eradicate the use of performance-enhancing drugs from the sport.

Tour de France organisers the Amuary Sports Organisation, who also run races such as the Tour of Qatar and Paris-Nice, have not yet been consulted. It could be a potential stumbling block.

Price added: "In terms of our 10 grands prix, we don't need any other race organiser on board. We no more need ASO's approval to do that than Coca-Cola needs Pepsi's approval to launch a new product."

Price is confident a restructuring of cycling's calendar will only improve the sport, with many races on the current calendar struggling.

"Judgement has been passed on a lot of the other races," he said.

"A lot of those races are dying and they're not dying because we've come up with a concept of a format that's driven by what television, sponsors and fans want.

"They're dying because the marketplace has cast judgement on them.

"If you want to progress as a sport and if you want to develop, you need to respond to what the marketplace want and if you don't you die."

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