Tour organiser pulls races from 2017 calendar

Fri Dec 18, 2015 12:29pm EST
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - Tour de France organiser ASO is withdrawing its races from the International Cycling Union (UCI) calendar in 2017 because of a disagreement over the reform of the calendar and the selection of teams, it said on Friday.

ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) said reform of the UCI's World Tour means that the 2017 season would be a closed circuit whereas it wants a system based on 'sporting criteria', meaning no team can be guaranteed a spot on the Tour de France and other top events.

The calendar changes, approved by the UCI, mean teams would be handed three-year World Tour licences from 2017 -- rather than the current one-year licences until 2016.

"Amaury Sport Organisation has informed this day Union Cycliste Internationale it has opted for the registration of its events on the Hors Classe calendar for season 2017," ASO said in a statement.

"The UCI has actually recently adopted, from season 2017, a reform of the World Tour calendar characterised by a closed sport system.

  "More than ever, ASO remains committed to the European model and cannot compromise the values it represents: an open system giving first priority to the sporting criterion."

Organisers cannot select more than 70 per cent of World Tour teams in a 'Hors Classe' race, or 15 teams in the usual 22-team lineup for the Tour de France, the most prestigious race in cycling.

It means that three World Tour teams will be omitted from the 2017 Tour lineup as the elite group usually features 18 teams.   Continued...

Giant-Alpecin rider John Degenkolb (3rd R) of Germany and Trek Factory rider Fumiyuki Beppu (R) of Japan sprint to the finish line as spectators take pictures of them during the Tour de France Saitama Criterium cycling race in Saitama, north of Tokyo, Japan, October 24, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino