(Reuters) - The International Cycling Union (UCI) has announced an expanded WorldTour calendar for 2017 that will see the series host premier level races in five countries, including Britain and the United States, for a first time.
"The expanded series will consist of 37 events. Alongside the three Grand Tours, there will be 14 stage races and 20 one-day events," the UCI said in a statement late on Tuesday.
A total of 10 new events were awarded three-year licenses to join a series that will take the peloton to 15 countries over a nine-month period, with the Tour Down Under kicking off the 2017 season in Australia from Jan. 17-22.
Australia will also host the first of the new events on the schedule when the riders line up for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on Jan. 29, a 174 km one-day race in Victoria that was first staged in 2015.
"I am absolutely delighted our vision has been realized and Australia now has its own modern one-day classic," Evans, who won the Tour de France in 2011, told reporters.
"And, our race will become a critical part of the season with teams and individuals vying for early season points in order to set up their entire year."
The RideLondon-Surrey Classic, won by Belgium's Tom Boonen on Sunday, has also been added to the schedule, giving Britain a first event on the series, along with fellow first timers Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and the United States.
"Alongside the prestigious events which have already proven their worth, the UCI WorldTour is enriched by the addition of some truly fantastic races across the globe. I'm delighted to see this development," UCI president Brian Cookson added.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by John O'Brien)