After thrilling crowds and earning raves from participating cyclists, the Tour of Utah has received a bit of good news.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has given the Tour of Utah its stamp of approval and added the six-stage road race to its official calendar.

That means professional cyclists from around the world, and not just domestic squads like Toyota-United, HealthNet/Maxxis and Navigators Insurance, will be viewing the race as a chance to earn points toward world championships.

Jason Preston, race director for the Tour of Utah, said the UCI recognition will help the race grow and potentially see some of the world's top cyclists and teams.

"This is really big for us," Preston said. "Being on the UCI calendar means we're one step closer to getting some of the biggest teams in the world to come and compete in the Tour of Utah. We hope to compete with the biggest races out there and become a destination race."

According to the calendar posted on the UCI Web site, the Tour of Utah will again be raced shortly after the Tour de France in early August or late July. Stage routes and dates are still being developed. In future years, as the Tour of Utah tries to join the Tour de Georgia and Tour of California as the country's elite road races, the dates may be changed in order to accommodate the competition schedules of teams competing in the European tours.

Preston said once the Tour of Utah grows to that point, it will likely adjust its competition dates to late August or September in order to draw riders and teams that have just competed in the Tour de France.

This year, the Tour of Utah used a $40,000-plus purse to attract many of the best domestic professionals. The purse will likely grow in future years, thanks to international attention, and could attract teams like David Zabriskie's CSC, Discovery Channel and T-Mobile, which regularly send riders to the Tour of California and Tour de Georgia. Those teams may begin sending racers to Utah as soon as 2008.

The UCI has rated the Tour of Utah as a 2.2 class race, meaning it is among the most challenging multi-stage races in the country. In the western hemisphere, only the California and Georgia tours are rated with the HC designation given to established elite-level races. The Tour of Utah hopes to receive the HC designation in a year or two at the most, Preston said.


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