Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) has announced today that it will withdraw all of its races from the UCI WorldTour from 2017. They have stated in a press release that they consider recent WorldTour reforms to constitute a ‘closed sport system’.
In addition to the Tour de France, the group also organise the Vuelta a Espana, Paris-Nice, the Critérium du Dauphiné, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and La Fleche Wallonne.
They have stated that the races instead will be registered on the UCI hors catégorie calendar for 2017, one level below World Tour level.
The UCI recently met with various stakeholders including ASO, in Barcelona to discuss the reform of the calendar structure from 2017.
Earlier this year, ASO threatened to pull its races from the 2016 WorldTour calendar but they subsequently backed down as the various stakeholders tried to find a solution.
It’s understood that ASO oppose potential changes that could weaken its dominance of the sport and its business interests, and they believe that groups such as team business group Velon want a part of ASO’s income.
The aim of the reforms are to help the WorldTour grow and develop and also to help teams and races became more economically stable.
The UCI also intend to add more races to the WorldTour calendar in future years and the existing WorldTour teams will be given three-year licences subject to annual reviews but will face more stringent rules surrounding rider management and support to reduce the risk of doping.
ASO’s press release read: “UCI has actually recently adopted, from season 2017, a Reform of the World Tour calendar characterized 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.
“It is therefore in this new context and within its historical events that ASO will continue to keep these values alive.”