Changes include top two rated second tier teams getting automatic entry to Grand Tours

World cycling’s governing body, the UCI, has unveiled a series of reforms to men’s racing that will be gradually introduced from next season, including the two top-ranked second tier teams automatically being given places at Grand Tours.

The latter move will limit the flexibility of race organisers in awarding wild card entries, which is often done for commercial or nationality reasons

The reforms were announced today by UCI president David Lappartient after they were approved by the governing body’s management committee, meeting in Innsbruck.

Yesterday they had been unanimously agreed with key stakeholders representing riders, professional teams and race organisers.

Earlier plans to reduce the number of WorldTour teams to 15 have been shelved, and there will continue to be 18 outfits in cycling’s top tier. As now they will be obliged to ride all WorldTour races as well as on-day races, including the five Monuments, that in future will be grouped in a season-long UCI Classics Series.

From 2020, a new season long UCI ProSeries will be the home for second-tier races currently in the HC or 1 categories and outside the WorldTour, with the third tier comprising the existing Continental Circuits.

The two best-performing teams in the ProSeries will get automatic entry to the Grand Tours, while the top three will have the right to places in the UCI Classics Series and other ​WorldTour races.

Finally, from the end of the 2019 season, WorldTour licences will be awarded on a three-year basis based on ethical, administrative, financial, organisational and sporting criteria, which the UCI says “enable a comparison to be made between UCI WorldTeams and new candidates for UCI WorldTeam status.”

The UCI added that some details need fine-tuning over the next year or so in order for the new regime to be in place from 1 January 2020.

UCI president, David Lappartient, said: “I am very happy that all together, we have reached a favourable consensus for all stakeholders of men’s professional road cycling: teams, riders, organisers, sponsors and fans alike.

“We now have a solid basis for continuing the development of our sport so that it becomes one of the major professional sports in the world, THE sport of the 21st century,” he added.

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.