Official UCI documents reveal an overhaul of the professional road cycling season is due to commence with the 2016 calendar. Cycling iQ looks at this, and other details, in the latest InSight.
The most time-consuming part of any article, especially an analysis piece, at Cycling iQ is research. One of the great by-products of combing through large amounts of information is the discovery of interesting files and documents. InSight posts will be published whenever a notable find deserves a wider airing.
In the central document, titled Registration procedure for 2016/2017 UCI calendars (downloads PDF, 5.3Mb), the UCI Sports Department sets out the procedure for continental confederations, national federations and event organisers to register events to be held in their respective countries/regions for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
The 58 page PDF, which Cycling iQ has confirmed was sent to national cycling federations on 16 April 2015 as part of a UCI NCF newsletter, contains illustrative procedural workflows and hyperlinks to “pre-calendars” for all 2016 road cycling calendars in Excel format. Understandably, the document has not been made available publicly.
Perhaps the most interesting element within the extensive guidelines relates to the duration of the UCI professional road cycling season. Underneath an overview diagram (above) covering seasonality for all cycling disciplines, the following paragraph is written:
The 2016 season will end in October 2016 for all road calendars. The exact date will be confirmed by June 2015. The UCI will accept October race registration files for events ending by 31 October 2016; these events may appear on the 2016 calendar or they may be moved forward to the start of the 2017 season.
The same paragraph is repeated in the pre-calendar documentation for each UCI Continental Circuit and the wording ‘Season of competitions (January 1st to October 31st)’ is also evident in the seasonal overview diagram.
Despite the clear language concerning the duration of the 2016 season, the 2017 season was less well-defined. Of the more than 15 national cycling federations contacted by Cycling iQ on Tuesday, only three representatives acknowledged they had seen the document and were aware of the new 2016 parameters. Furthermore, NCF representatives from Qatar and Japan were adamant the conclusion of the 2016 season will be 16 October; coinciding with the last day of the 2016 World Road Cycling Championships in Doha. However, both had different responses when asked to clarify when the 2017 season would commence.
Andrej Filip, Technical Secretary at the Qatar Cycling Federation, said “I am aware of these changes, yes. I heard the last race will be end of the (World Road Cycling) championships here and then the new calendar will start after that. We’re going to leave (the Tour of Al Zubarah) in December. It means we will miss the 2016 season. (The UCI) shouldn’t keep changing these things all the time.”
Naoko Kaizuka, Assistant Manager for Foreign Affairs at the Japan Cycling Federation, said “We received this information. After the World Road Cycling Championships, we won’t be able to register any competitions. We haven’t registered yet for Tour de Okinawa or the Japan Cup. We will do this early next year.”
A spokesperson from the German Cycling Federation (Bund Deutscher Radfahrer e.V.), wrote that “the season will officially start at 01.01.2017 as the years before. I do not see further information, why the UCI should change their calendar in 2017 to 19, as they are planning a complete reform starting 2020.”
The UCI today confirmed the document had been circulated to all NCF’s and event organisers and also clarified the road cycling season would remain at 12 months duration; beginning and ending based on the UCI World Road Cycling Championships. The UCI regulations have also been updated and the changes come into force on 01 January 2016:
Indeed, a perusal of the existing 2016 road cycling calendar on the UCI’s website shows no races whatsoever after the Grand prix Chantal Biya, a UCI2.2-classified event on the UCI Africa Tour. In 2015 alone, there are 19 races spread across the America, Africa and Asia Tours that inhabit the November-December space. If the organisers of those events wish to retain the same calendar position next year, it means they will effectively skip the 2016 season altogether.
The months of November and December have also been removed from the 2016 calendar graphical interface (comparison to 2015 below):
In practice, while the change doesn’t impact the WorldTour calendar – which is separately organised by the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) and doesn’t contain races scheduled in the final two months of the calendar year – it evidently seeks to better align all road cycling calendars.
Although the UCI did not state why this revision was made, it neatly lines up with the wishes expressed in a recent blog post by Benjamin Fitzmaurice, former SKINS General Counsel and current UCI Rider agent. In the post, Fitzmaurice calls upon the UCI to change the contract year for professional road cyclists. He argues that the current contract year of 01 January – 31 December is a major turnoff for sponsors and suggests contracts should instead be valid from 1 November – 31 October.
Whether or not a change in seasonal parameters will impact on rider contracts remains to be seen. Watch this space.
Another interesting outtake from the same document pertains to the UCI Women’s WorldTour. Though many details are already known, it appears the UCI is making an additional investment in TV production:
In order to harmonise TV standards and attract the interest of broadcasters worldwide, the UCI is investing in a centralised production project that will benefit each event individually and the series as a whole. The costs of this project shall be split between the UCI and each organiser. Detailed information about these responsibilities will be shared with the candidates of the UCI Women’s Series* [CiQ: the working title of the Women’s WorldTour when the document was released] at a later date.
This article was updated on 09 December to include additional information obtained during telephone interviews with national cycling federation representatives.
This article was updated on 10 December to include additional information communicated from the UCI by email.