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No details yet from UCI on sweeping reform

The UCI's plans for reform remain vague after a stakeholder meeting in Montreux, Switzerland

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Some were expecting to see a roadmap, but the UCI has yet to reveal specifics about sweeping reforms poised to be introduced as soon as 2017.

It appears there is not yet consensus among the major players as teams, race organizations, and the UCI continue to try to reach a common ground on what elite men’s road racing will look like in the near future.

Following a two-day conference at the end of last week, the UCI came out with a press release that was long on breezy comments and very short on details about restructuring efforts that could greatly reshape team structures, race calendars, and how the racing season looks and feels.

For instance, the statement read: “Implementation of strict organizational standards for event organizers will begin in the 2015 season, and seeks to build upon the considerable investment made by organizers in assuring the highest quality of event, whether from TV to security to the fan experience.” However, the UCI did not elaborate on those standards.

One source told VeloNews, “There is agreement that changes need to be made, but there’s not yet consensus on what will happen. Things are still a long way from being finalized.”

The press statement supported that assessment, saying, “Continuing with the core reform principles, all participants agreed that there are still a number of elements that need further consultation and that no decision should be rushed.”

Discussions to reshape the elite men’s racing calendar have picked up steam with Brian Cookson’s election of UCI president in September, and there have been a series of meetings and discussions over the past year to look for a new vision for the top end of the sport.

Ideally, everyone is hoping to tweak the existing model, by protecting cycling’s history, yet reshaping the elite part of the sport into something that has more relevance in the modern era.

In the press statement, Cookson said, “In the calm of the off-season it has been a great opportunity to reflect on a fabulous season, and also to spend time with representatives of the UCI WorldTour teams and organizers to discuss the many important issues and opportunities ahead of us. Road cycling has a wonderful, rich and long heritage, and it is important not to lose sight of that as we embrace the future. I’m very pleased with the level of co-operation now happening across the sport, which promises well for the 2015 season and beyond.”

Suggestions for changes range from shortening grand tours to less than three weeks to reducing the number of riders on teams and trimming the number of race days. The idea is to create a leaner schedule that is more palpable for TV audiences, and in part to allow top riders to be physiologically able to race at a higher level throughout a longer period, rather than betting everything on the Tour de France.

How that might happen is clearly still widely debated.

And the ongoing discussions come in the same time as 11 top teams have organized themselves under the banner of Velon.

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