For a global sport to truly be global it must reach out to the entire world. The UCI World Tour only includes races in Europe, with the exception of the Tour Down Under in Australia and the two one day races in Quebec and Montreal. To be called a World Tour, the UCI needs to have races in every hospitable continent, and bring the global cycling community together through expansion.
The United States has three stage races that could be moved up to World Tour status. The most obvious choice is, of course, the Amgen Tour of California. If the race was moved ahead to before the Giro d’Italia, the race could be used as a tune up race for the grand tour or as a race for riders not racing the Ardennes. Also, the Richmond 2015 course could be a yearly one day race for a cobbled summer classic. Philadelphia hosts a one day race around the same time, as does Winston Salem, North Carolina. Any one of these races could bring big one day racers to the States in a World Tour capacity.
South America has an abundance of riders in the pro ranks, and deserves to have a World Tour race of their own. The opening season race, the Tour of San Luis, is a prime target for a status upgrade. With riders like Nairo Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali, and Peter Sagan appearing on this year’s start line, San Luis can make a claim for ascension. The Colombian golden age of riders would love to have a hometown race to boast about, making the Vuelta a Colombia another viable option.
As for Africa, the UCI needs to have a major race take place in this diverse continent. Team Dimension Data, a South African licensed team, achieved World Tour status this year, yet has no race in all of Africa to compete at, World Tour or otherwise. A weeklong race in February in South Africa or Morocco could easily support Europe’s neighbor to the South. Maybe even a string of one day races leading up to a World Tour level classic.
Asia used to have the Tour of Beijing, but the now defunct race raised more health concerns than viewable racing. The Tour of Hainan would make a better addition to the Far East calendar. Even races in the Ural Mountain Range would be a more world inclusive event to support. As extensive as Asia is, and more riders hailing from Asian countries, a race in Kazakhstan, India, or Japan is something the World Tour could implement.
Finances notwithstanding, a true World Tour should hit every region of the globe. The interest is evident, and the cycling brand has only gotten larger over the last couple of decades. With teams signing agreements with Velon to make cycling better for the fans to enjoy, massive transformation is imminent in professional cycling. It’s time for the UCI to make plans for a more inclusive World Tour and be at the forefront of the ever changing sport.
I know that cycling has been a traditional European centric sport, but the sport truly has global interest. It wasn’t long ago that Australia got the World Tour status race in January. A growing cycling community down under piqued the interest of the UCI World Tour, and it is time the UCI added more races across the globe and spread cycling to all corners of the globe.