By Agence France Presse
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has announced a major shake-up of the world road race championship program as of 2012, which will be held in the Dutch province of Limburg.
Limburg topped rival bids from Genoa in Italy and the Belgian town of Hooglede-Gits on Wednesday to win the right to host the 2012 world championships.
The 2012 competition is set to begin with a trade team time trial, and throughout the week will also host the junior men’s and women’s road races and time trials, which have been held separately from the elite world championships for the past four years.
UCI president Pat McQuaid stressed that his intention was to create a television-friendly, week-long “annual cycling festival” that will attract visitors and fans for an entire week instead of just the final weekend when the men’s and women’s elite road races are held.
“We want to create an annual cycling festival for the whole cycling family … we also want to take advantage of new technologies that are available, and to create a mass ‘cyclo-sportive’ ride in which the public can take part,” said the Irishman.
Normally the world championships, disputed by national teams, are held over a five-day period.
The UCI said it plans to kick off the 2012 edition by holding men’s and women’s team time trials between trade teams “that the public are used to seeing all year round.”
The team time trial, one of cycling’s oldest disciplines, was last held at the world championships in 1994, when it was disputed by teams of four riders over 100km.
In 2012 the idea is to have trade teams featuring up to seven riders over a shorter distance.
Another idea being tossed around would include professional teams from the Continental level along with teams from Asia. McQuaid said that a qualifying system had yet to be established and that the concept was at the discussion stage.
“It all falls into line with our concept of promoting the globalization of cycling,” added McQuaid.