Australia has been guaranteed the rights to host a leg of the UCI ProTour cycling series for at least the next four years, Cycling Australia said Friday.
The news, announced by world governing body, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), comes two months after South Australia's Tour Down Under was named as the first UCI ProTour cycling race outside of Europe from 2008.
The Tour Down Under event, to be staged next January, will attract the 18 best cycling teams in the world.
"I would like to congratulate the organisers of the Tour Down Under, as the event fully deserves to be part of the UCI ProTour. Australia has become one of the leading nations in international cycling," Pat McQuaid, president of UCI, said in a statement Friday.
"It is only fair that Australia should now host the highest level event. The inclusion of the Tour Down Under in the UCI ProTour is excellent news for cycling as it shows that our sport is continuing to develop, outside of Europe."
The 18 cycling teams to contest the UCI ProTour Tour Down Under are: Ag2r - La Mondiale (FRA), Astana (SUI), Bouygues Télécom (FRA), Caisse D'Epargne (ESP), Cofidis, le Crédit par Téléphone (FRA), Crédit Agricole (FRA), CSC (DEN), Euskaltel-Euskadi (ESP), Française des Jeux (FRA), Gerolsteiner (GER), Lampre (ITA), Liquigas (ITA), Milram (ITA), Silence - Lotto (BEL), Quick Step (BEL), Rabobank (NED), Saunier Duval (ESP), High Road (former T-Mobile) (GER).
© AFP 2007