Licence of Australian race set to expire - UCI reviewing it against background of calendar reform

There are fears in Australia that the Tour Down Under, which in recent years has established itself as the event that opens the UCI WorldTour each year, may not survive beyond 2016.

Held in and around Adelaide in late January, the week-long race brings some A$50 million into the local economy each year.

But with a gap of a month and a half before the next WorldTour event, Paris-Nice, and UCI president Brian Cookson pressing on with reforming the professional calendar, the governing body has previously been reported as wanting the Australian race to be moved back.

Adding to the uncertainty is that the state government’s licence to hold the race expires next year, and according to a report in the Guardian, it is far from certain it will be renewed.

A review of the race is being conducted by the UCI with the result expected in two months and sports minister Leon Bignall told ABC Radio, “We can’t count our chickens until the review is finalised.”

However, Michelle Lensink, a Liberal MP in the state parliament’s opposition, said Mr Bignell should say why the government is unable to guarantee the event staying in South Australia.

“Given the minister had just met with the UCI president Brian Cookson in Switzerland, it is concerning he couldn’t guarantee the Tour Down Under will continue,” she said.

This year’s event was won by BMC Racing’s Rohan Dennis, a native of the state.

Efforts to move the race to a later slot in the year are also opposed by local tourism chiefs on the grounds that its current spot coincides with the final week of the school summer holidays, helping to boost spectator numbers.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.