The Swiss voted recently on a referendum for tighter gun controls. They rejected the proposal. The small Alpine state has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world, a figure especially high for Europe. I can’t help wonder if a ready supply of firearms explains why the UCI is limping. The Swiss-based governing body displays a remarkable tendency to shoot itself in the foot.
In the latest incident, discussing Riccardo Riccò and the Vacansoleil team, UCI President Pat McQuaid (pictured) has said “it’s not out of the question that his team won’t be called to explain its signing policy“. But wouldn’t that be the policy of signing riders the UCI allows to race? The UCI sets the rules that determined Vacansoleil’s recruitment:
- The UCI cleared the serpentine Riccò, allowing him to come back with the Ceramica Flaminia team.
- Then the UCI authorised the mid-season transfer to Vacansoleil in August last year.
- Then the UCI awarded Vacansoleil a three year Pro Tour licence.
- Then the UCI oversaw Riccò’s 2011 racing licence.
Don’t get me wrong. Vacansoleil’s decision to recruit Mosquera and Riccò looks like desperate points-grabbing. But that’s the very system the UCI has created. Teams compete to recruit riders in order to make the big league Pro Tour. The UCI has incentivised and authorised Vacansoleil all the way.
To make matters worse for everyone, the Giro d’Italia organisers RCS are now threatening to exclude Vacansoleil from the Giro (the teams should be announced on Monday morning). Here’s Velonation again:
Vacansoleil risks starting its first Giro d’Italia this May, as well. Race director Angelo Zomegnan has hinted he may ignore UCI rules that state all 18 ProTeams can race in the Giro. A decision may come from the UCI or the RFEC before May 7, when the race starts in Turin.
In other words, the uncertainty and questions over Vacansoleil are encouraging Zomegnan to rip up the rulebook and scrap the very concept of the UCI’s World Tour where every team awarded a Pro Tour team licence is guaranteed entry into all the races on the World Tour calendar.
Tragically we have the position of the UCI President undermining the very rules and World Tour concept he seeks to champion. Having authorised Riccò to race and having just granted Vacansoleil a licence, the UCI is a part of the sorry mess. In addition, a President that publicly questions a team’s validity and the future of its licence causes enormous damage, not only to the team in question but also to the UCI and its vetting procedures.
The bitter irony is that McQuaid should probably swing behind Vacansoleil and support them in full. Giving RCS the ammunition to exclude Vacansoleil would unpick the very concept of the World Tour.