In recent days it’s been reported that the major race organisers and the UCI are close to a formal agreement over the team selection process for their races. It means the top-18 teams will get automatic invitations to ride the big races, indeed under the UCI rules they will be obliged to participate.
I wrote a while back just how strange it was to see the UCI launch the “World Tour” without consensus from the race organisers and worried that this could lead to stalemate again. But the good news is that threat seems to be receding.
The bad news is that the agreement has been reached amongst the race organisers with little input from the teams. You’d think the discussions of team selection would merit consultation and negotiation with the teams but alas, this seems not to be the case. Worse, the problem is that the selection criteria for 2011 are being discussed but the teams have secured budgets and fixed rosters long ago. This isn’t an obscure point that bothers me, it’s something that’s worrying several team managers. Speaking to cyclingnews.com, Cervélo’s joint boss Gerard Vroomen said:
I don’t have a problem with rule changes but there needs to be a notice period. I read yesterday that the race organisers might be agreeing with the UCI on what to do next year, but it’s December and this is for races that start in January. So with less than a month’s notice there might be an agreement between federation and the organisers on how to arrange the sport next year. They should be talking about 2012, 2013, and not 2011. This is the situation that the entire sport has maneuvered itself into.
I’m inclined to agree. The least we can hope for here is that the new agreement is lasting and offers a guarantee for a period of, say, five years. Plus a commitment to announce any significant changes with a year or two of notice.
Overall this is positive news but the way teams (and riders) are excluded from major discussions is a fundamental concern.