The Santos Tour Down Under will be the first race on the new UCI WorldTour, joining the same category of races as the Tour de France.
World cycling’s governing body, the UCI, has combined the ProTour, Grand Tour and Historical calendars all together under one category, the UCI WorldTour.
Santos Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur says the new UCI WorldTour status emphasises the success of the race, which has grown to become the biggest cycling event in the southern hemisphere.
"Becoming part of the new WorldTour and joining the same ranks as the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Paris-Roubaix is a massive validation of the success and strength of the Santos Tour Down Under," says Mike Turtur.
"Since the Santos Tour Down Under joined the ProTour in 2008, it has grown exponentially, with the economic impact to the State increasing from $11.5m pre-ProTour to $41.5m this year.
"We’ve seen a massive boost to the event in terms of spectator numbers, interstate and overseas visitors and media coverage, and the calibre of riders competing here continues to grow."
The UCI WorldTour will officially begin with the Santos Tour Down Under, which takes place in Adelaide and regional South Australia from 16-23 January 2011.
"We led the way for globalising the sport when the South Australian Government and race organisers successfully campaigned to become the first race outside of Europe to be granted ProTour status," says Mike Turtur.
"We are proud that the Santos Tour Down Under will continue to lead the way as it becomes the first race on the new WorldTour cycling calendar."
The top 18 teams in the world, now called ProTeams, will automatically compete in all WorldTour events including the Santos Tour Down Under.
"We are delighted that the UCI rule change we campaigned for four years ago, that allows a national team to compete in a ProTour event, will continue with the new WorldTour. Therefore the Australian national team, Team UniSA-Australia, will again compete in Adelaide in January 2011," says Mike Turtur.