UCI launch T20-style cycling competition and move World Championships to October
By PA Media
Last Updated: 01/03/20 6:16pm
The UCI will launch a new short-format competition designed to attract new audiences as part of a radical shake-up of the track cycling calendar.
The plans will see the World Championships moved from its current slot in late February to October while the World Cup, currently staged over six weekends through the winter, will be replaced by a Nations Cup made up of three events held between March and September.
In addition, world cycling's governing body will launch a new TV-friendly UCI Track Cycling League - effectively cycling's equivalent of Twenty20 cricket - developed alongside Eurosport and staged during the winter.
Starting in November next year, the competition will consist of six events per season, each lasting around two hours.
There will be four competitions for men and women: the individual sprint, keirin, elimination race and scratch race.
The nine best-placed riders in the sprint and keirin, plus all medallists from the bunch races, at the preceding World Championships will gain selection for the league.
The plans are a result of 18 months of discussions as UCI president David Lappartient seeks to deliver on one of the key campaign promises which led to his election over forerunner Brian Cookson in 2017.
But moving the primary track competitions to the summer could create clashes with the more popular road events, while the Nations Cup also appears to bar the path for trade teams - such as the hugely successful British outfit Huub-Wattbike - to continue racing on the track.
The Nations Cup hands more power to federations, but there will be a significant impact on Olympic qualification as the calendar gets a shake-up.
By moving the World Championships back in the calendar it now means there are only three more editions before the 2024 Paris Olympics, condensing the qualification period. The UCI is still finalising how that qualification process might look.
The 2021 World Championships are due to be staged in Turkmenistan, a country Human Rights Watch describes as "one of the world's most isolated and oppressively governed countries".
Lappartient defended the decision to take the competition to the country, saying: "We believe sport is able to really put all the nations together and to bring peace worldwide, to open dialogue between nations.
"This is why we took this decision. We don't want to enter from our side too much on politics - sport is sport, let the political level decide political issues. For sure there are some issues."