The International Cycling Union (UCI) has launched a new series of gran fondo (cyclosportive) events, with a coveted rainbow jersey up for grabs. The UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT) combines new and existing events across the US, Australia and Europe, and is aimed at "well trained amateurs".
“It’s no coincidence that the UWCT and the UCI WorldTour (formerly UCI ProTour) have such similar names," said UCI president Pat McQuaid. "We want the amateur cyclist who's devoted to the sport to have a taste of high-level racing and ultimately race for a world champion title. The UWCT is how we're going to take amateur cycling to the next level."
The UWCT will include up to 15 qualifier events. Riders will have to perform well in these to gain a place in the final, where world titles will be awarded in different age groups. All the qualifiers will be raced over 100-180km, with either a mass start or riders being sent off by age group. Time trial events will also take place at some qualifiers, covering distances of 20-40km.
For 2011, seven races have already been scheduled: two legs in the US and one each in Australia, Portugal, Slovenia, Belgium and Switzerland. Negotiations are still under way for events in Spain, the UK, Greece, Denmark and France. The finals will take place in Belgium.
Confirmed events are as follows:
- 14 and 16 April: Perth, Australia
- 8 May: Gran Fondo New York, USA
- 15 May: Gran Fondo Eddy Merckx, Village Palmela, Portugal
- 12 June: Marathon Franja BTC, Slovenia
- 18 June: Gran Fondo Eddy Merckx, Belgium
- 20 and 21 August: Echelon Gran Fondo, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
- 28 August: Gruyère Cycling Tour, Switzerland
- 10-11 September: UWCT Finals, Stavelot, Liège, Belgium
For more information on the UWCT, visit www.uciworldcyclingtour.com.