During the UCI’s overhaul of its professional road cycling framework in 2005, the global race calendar was split into five cycling confederations, known as ‘Continental Circuits’. Seven years on, the calendars of each confederation have progressed and matured – with one great exception.
With only two UCI-sanctioned races, the Oceania Cycling Confederation – consisting of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Guam – has become such a neglected area that even its official website has now expired. It’s free to be registered by anyone. The 2012 Oceania Tour calendar consists of two races (not including Confederation Championships) – the Jayco Herald Sun tour and the New Zealand Cycle Classic. It wasn’t always that way.
In 2006, the Oceania Tour comprised five UCI-sanctioned races – Herald Sun Tour (AUS, 2.1), Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic (AUS, 1.2), Powernet Tour of Southland (NZL, 2.2), Jacob’s Creek Tour Down Under (AUS, 2.HC) and Trust House Cycle Classic (NZL, 2.2).
The calendar atrophy over six seasons is noticeable. But when did the Oceania Tour’s demise begin? Perhaps when the Tour Down Under became a ‘ProTour’ (now WorldTour) event in 2008? TDU’s re-classification effectively shut out regional teams from competing in what was Oceania’s pinnacle event. Interestingly enough, the director of the Tour Down Under, Mike Turtur, was elected as the Oceania Cycling Confederation president the following year. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of this role and working with the cycling community in this region and internationally,” Turtur was quoted as saying in the November 2008 Cycling Australia press release. What he didn’t say was “I’m looking forward to developing the Oceania Tour”.
Did Oceania ever have the fundamentals (cycling population, nations, proximity, funding, institutional support, teams) in place to continue as a standalone proposition? Whatever the case, the ‘Warnie’s’ last hurrah as a UCI-sanctioned race came in 2008 and the Tour of Southland would be next to voluntarily break free from the UCI. Maybe Turtur, by focusing all of his energies on the Tour Down Under, instinctively knew something that the UCI didn’t when it made its reforms in 2005.
Following is a list of the five Continental Circuits, accompanied by brief stats on their respective race calendars. “What is the point of the Oceania Cycling Confederation?”, one might ask after comparing the five regions. Surely, the UCI is asking the same question. Cycling iQ has heard from multiple qualified sources that a final decision is to be made in September this year.
AFRICA | NATIONAL CYCLING FEDERATIONS
2012 AFRICA TOUR CALENDAR | Summary
Season span: 29 September 2011 – 10 June 2012
Stage races: WorldTour: 0 2.HC: 0 2.1: 1 2.2: 8
One day races: WorldTour: 0 1.HC: 0 1.1: 0 1.2: 10
Total calendar events (not including national and continental championships): 19
THE AMERICAS | NATIONAL CYCLING FEDERATIONS
2012 AMERICA TOUR CALENDAR | Summary
Season span: 02 October 2011 – 15 September 2012
Stage races: WorldTour: 0 2.HC: 2 2.1: 3 2.2: 17
One day races: WorldTour: 2 1.HC: 1 1.1: 0 1.2: 4
Total calendar events (not including national and continental championships): 29
ASIA | NATIONAL CYCLING FEDERATIONS
2012 ASIA TOUR CALENDAR | Summary
Season span: 02 October 2011 – 30 September 2012
Stage races: WorldTour: 2* 2.HC: 5 2.1: 3 2.2: 18
One day races: WorldTour: 0 1.HC: 1 1.1: 0 1.2: 3
Total calendar events (not including national and continental championships): 32
*including Tour of Hangzhou
EUROPE | NATIONAL CYCLING FEDERATIONS
2012 EUROPE TOUR CALENDAR | Summary
Season span: 29 January 2012 – 21 October 2012
Stage races: WorldTour: 12 2.HC: 13 2.1: 30 2.2: 50
One day races: WorldTour: 12 1.HC: 14 1.1: 83 1.2: 88
Total calendar events (not including national and continental championships): 302
OCEANIA | NATIONAL CYCLING FEDERATIONS
2012 OCEANIA TOUR CALENDAR | Summary
Season span: 12 October 2011 – 29 January 2012
Stage races: WorldTour: 1 2.HC: 0 2.1: 1 2.2: 1
One day races: WorldTour: 0 1.HC: 0 1.1: 0 1.2: 0
Total calendar events (not including national and continental championships): 3
WHERE ARE ALL THE RACES?
Finally, here’s a quick summary of where all the teams and races are, globally speaking. This is just the beginning of a much more specific analysis (total race days per continental circuit versus population and GDP, etc) that will be posted on Cycling iQ in the near future.
From what I was told, either the cost of making the races UCI sanctioned events started becoming beyond the budgetary grasp of a lot of the races. Or (in case like the Melbourne to Warnambool/Scody Cup Tour) the private event organiser saw no financial incentive to spend the money to have them in the Oceania Tour…
I guess this now means that any Australian teams looking to progress to a Pro Conti classification need to spend their own money and travel to UCI races, as there are precious few back home.
Which shifts the costs on to the teams.
When I spoke with Michael Drapac earlier this year at Tour de Langkawi, it was clear the team aims to regain its ProConti status and have a bigger focus on the Asia Tour.
There’s an upside, too; the increased status a ProContinental team lends to a race usually results in better funding from race organisers. Spending money to save money…
Mike Turtur has done nothing for the Oceania Region. Why have a guy like this in charge that is not interested in progressing cycling in Australia/Oceania region. We would be better off being part of the Asian Circuit, these guys know how to progress cycling in their regions and have clearly shown this by the increase in UCI races.
People like John Craven are the ones that are really progressing cycling races and riders in this country. Without guys like this we would not have so many top Australian pro’s.
Craven’s looking to sell Caribou…
I’ve been told it is highly likely the UCI will roll Oceania into the AsiaTour.
For people that don’t know John Craven, here’s a quick bio on the Caribou website.
Would be excellent to see Drapac back to a Pro Conti level.
I’ll look forward to Michael Drapac’s bid to then participate in the 2013 Tour Down Under and what excuse Turtur will have for snubbing them…
Fingers crossed though they do actually get a start
moving into the Asian tour seems to make sense. But then again its the same as now as most riders/teams would have to travel to Asia as they currently do to race quality events. Then when Australia has to Qualify for world championships spots etc we would get less opportunity to snap up those vital positions which have presented themselves in the past if they have to perform at the Asian Championships.