The International Cycling Union (UCI) has confirmed that it has been in talks with Omega Pharma-QuickStep owner Zdenek Bakala and his business partner Bessel Kok since late 2011 about possible restructuring of the pro road cycling calendar which would see the introduction of a whole new raft of races. The UCI have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bakala, Kok and other ‘cycling stakeholders’ to develop a Cycling World Series likely to comprise of 10 new four-day events that would run alongside a number of existing one-day races and the Giro, Vuelta and Tour de France. Crucially – and perhaps of most damage-limitation interest to the UCI – there would also be a fully transparent and far-reaching commitment to anti-doping.
Alongside Omega, it is believed that Vaconsoleil-DCM, Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, Garmin-Sharp, Liquigas-Cannondale, Movistar, Rabobank and Radioshack-Nissan Trek have expressed an interest in involvement. Team Sky have yet to make their own position clear.
Amid growing press speculation, particularly that suggesting that this could mark the beginning of the end for the governing body’s outright control of the sport, the UCI have stated, unequivocally: ‘No agreement has been reached on the reforms that will take place to the calendar and as such any media reports about the future of the calendar are pure speculation at this stage. However, the UCI will retain full control over the calendar, including sporting and technical elements.’