“The UCI should aim to facilitate the survival of cycling structures on other levels”
The International Cycling Union (UCI) began this Wednesday, April 15, to make a move in the preparation of a new calendar that will allow, between August and November, to concentrate some of the main cycling competitions of the annual calendar. A first announcement, without specific dates for some events, which revolves around the Tour de France and the World Championships and which also takes into account the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta of Spain, the five monuments and some other pre-eminent races. An emergency plan to save the WorldTour for which many of the major players in international cycling had stressed the need to organise the Tour de France. The French round will take place from 29 August to 20 September.
The cycling government has also announced that work will be intensified in the coming days to extend the calendar with other events, also within this time frame. Some, like the Tour of Hungary, had shown weeks before their interest in being held in October. Overlaps between events are going to be absolutely inevitable given the lack of time. And also the certainty that it is absolutely impossible for everyone to fit in. The exceptionality of the competitive future that has been drawn up to save the year in the field of sport invites us to think about the need to also take courageous initiatives, even though they may violate current regulations
“If in cycling in general the day-to-day is observed with a lot of concern, as it cannot be otherwise, this uncertainty and concern are even greater within the professional category. We are the third level within the professional scale and the panorama that has begun to be drawn from the UCI is focused essentially on the first, the World Tour. At these levels, there are structures whose sponsors are being particularly affected by the consequences of this health emergency. Imagine at other levels,” says Francisco Javier Contador.
The general manager of the Kometa-Xstra Cycling Team advocates an open mind at a time of great exceptionality when all decisions, whatever they may be, are still contingent on the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic and the ability to keep its spread under control, if not halted. “The ICU must consider facilitating as much as possible the survival of structures on other levels,” he argues. With measures of a financial nature, but also by stimulating the visibility of team sponsors.
“At the moment the World Tour as a category is a double-edged sword for the survival of many projects. A closed league in a context like the present one is a danger. It is necessary to open the hand. I don’t mean by this that the Kometa-Xstra Cycling Team has to race the Tour, the Giro or the Vuelta, because our staff and our resources are not focused on that goal and it is counterproductive to do something like that from one day to the next. I’m not talking about these privileges. Or about imposing them artificially. But I do believe that a team like ours, or Kern Pharma, to mention the two Spanish cases in the continental category, or the UCI ProTeam, the formerly known as professional continental teams, can have easy access to tests that can be disputed”.
Regulating it at a geographical level? Expanding the platoons? Rhetorical questions. There are no certainties here. These are times to think, to meditate, to put in common with team work, one of the signs of identity of the cycling sport. It is not easy to concentrate a competitive calendar for all the categories when, in addition, this concentration can cause additional problems from an organizational prism: the resources of road safety or permission destined for a test can prevent another one, of another level, or another category, from taking place in the same geographical area.
“It’s not going to be easy months for any team in the world. It is also clear to me that when all this happens, new opportunities may arise from which we can emerge stronger. And the ideal is that the first one to come out stronger is cycling as a sport”, concludes Francisco Javier Contador.
(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)