• UCI President Brian Cookson. (AAP)Source: AAP
UCI president Brian Cookson has responded to criticism of WorldTour reforms that this year will see two different participation rules employed in the sport’s top level of competition.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
19 Jan 2017 - 7:02 PM 

Speaking from the Tour Down Under on Thursday, Cookson described the code as a work in progress at the same time BMC general manager Jim Ochowicz joined those objecting to it.

Tour Down Under race director and former Oceania confederation president Mike Turtur last month blasted UCI WorldTour management for the calendar, which now includes compulsory and non-compulsory participation rules across existing and 10 newly added events, respectively.

Turtur blasts UCI WorldTour management
Former Oceania confederation president Mike Turtur has openly criticised the UCI, labelling its current management of the WorldTour “a joke”.

Cookson acknowledged contrary opinion to the regulation, that was further refined this month, but maintained it was a move in the right direction for the sport undergoing self-assessment.

“The teams really didn’t want to be forced to ride all of the events, so we had to strike a balance between seeking expansion of the WorldTour and giving the events that were keen to come into the WorldTour some help in achieving their participation levels,” Cookson said.

In response, Ochowicz said the regulation wasn’t in favour of WorldTour teams, some of which were said to have downsized their rosters last year in anticipation of rumoured wholesale reforms.

“It makes no sense to have two different criteria for events that score points in the same system,” Ochowicz said. “It should be qualified races that belong in the WorldTour, and there are now races in the WorldTour that don’t belong.

“We can only do so many races with so many riders on a weekend,” he continued. “We’re now jammed up with three WorldTour [events] on some weekends. That’s ridiculous. We have to put eight riders in each race - that’s 24. We seldom have 24 healthy riders on a weekend, not to even mention staff.

How many races do you think a mechanic can go to in a season? They have a certain amount of time and energy to put forward and now you’re stretching everybody out.

“I’ve said it before, to me it’s a step backwards. The system that was in place in ‘16 was the one that worked the best.”

The UCI this month published modifications to the regulation, which have been met with equal dissatisfaction this time from stakeholders of newly minted events.

As of this month, individual and team ranking points now won’t be awarded in races added to the WorldTour in 2017. New events will also now need to regularly secure a minimum of 10 WorldTour teams to keep their competition level status.

“It’s been a difficult process and different points of view have been expressed,” Cookson said.

“There have been some compromises along the way. I think several of the new events in the programme have had no difficulty in getting the minimum 10 WorldTour teams. Others may struggle, so this is something we’re going to have to monitor very closely.

“I don’t think most of the events are that big an imposition on the teams frankly, but let’s monitor it and see how it goes. We should see this as a year of work in progress. We may make some adjustments for next year and future years.”