October 8 - A revolutionary new promotion and relegation system is to be introduced by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to replace the World Tour, it has been announced.
Under the proposals, which will be submitted for approval to the UCI's Management Committee next January, there will be three divisions which will start to be implemented in 2015 with the scheme fully in place by 2020.
The first division would be made up of 16 elite teams competing over 120 days of racing per season, with the second division comprising eight teams competing over 50 days.
A third division would then be made up of Professional Continental and Continental teams from the Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Oceania Tours.
A single world ranking would also be introduced, listing all riders from each of the three divisions against each other in one index.
The new format would see the season run from February to October, with no overlap between events and stage races cut to five or six days.
Teams will be selected for the first division based on sporting, ethical, financial and administrative criteria, with sporting performances determining who is relegated and promoted at the end of the season.
This would represent a break from the current system, where teams are selected for the UCI WorldTour based on applications.
The idea is to align cycling with more rigidly structured sports such as formula one and tennis.
The UCI outlined the proposals in its October newsletter, describing them as a "profound and decisive change in the organisation of professional cycling".
The reform was listed among four key objectives for the UCI under newly elected President Brian Cookson, the others being transforming the management of anti-doping procedures, developing women's cycling and reinforcing the sport's position in the Olympic Movement.
Plans for the division system received initial approval during meetings between the UCI Management Committee and the Professional Cycling Council at last month's Road World Championships in Florence.
The same two bodies will rule on the refined proposals when they are received in January.
Cookson was elected President of the UCI during the World Championships, when he beat Irishman Pat McQuaid, and used the newsletter to hammer home the message that his fundamental priority is to restore respectability to cycling.
"The UCI must take the necessary steps to restore its own credibility and that of cycling as a whole, in particular with regard to the public perception of anti-doping measures and the present-day leaders of the world of cycling," he said.
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