Oh what a surprise, CAS has sided with Katusha in their appeal to being denied a WorldTour license. UCI loses another battle. And as usual, the solution to one problem creates a problem. What now? 19 teams with WorldTour licenses? Demote another WorldTour team to Pro Continental level?
Of course, the UCI will claim it is not responsible. Expect phrases such as “The License committee is completely independent, therefore we are not responsible for their decisions. But look at the wider picture:
- The License committee works under the guidelines of the UCI. So if the UCI sets the four criteria (sporting, ethical, financial, organizational) without a proper framework of how to judge those criteria, you end up with decisions that – while they may be correct – are easily challenged.
- After the License committee made its decision to deny Katusha its license, everybody knew it would be challenged at CAS. What else was Katusha – the Global Cycling Project – going to do. Fold? So the UCI knew there was a chance CAS would reinstate Katusha.
- Given that opportunity, the prudent course of action would be to hand out 17 WorldTour licenses, wait for CAS and then give the 18th license to Katusha or somebody else. By giving the 18th license to somebody else immediately, it created the potential for a mess.
- What’s the big deal with 19 WorldTour teams? Races like to pick teams themselves, based on local favorites or other business considerations. With 22 teams in the Grand Tours, having 19 instead of 18 WorldTour teams guaranteed a spot means they can only pick 3 wildcard teams themselves. This is why ultimately the number 18 was picked, it was the compromise between the UCI and the big race organizers on how many teams they could pick themselves. Depending on how big a stink they want to create, race organizers are unlikely to accept 19 WorldTour teams, or they may say to the UCI that it can give out 19 licenses but they will only invite 18 of those 19.
- Is there nothing fans can look forward to? Actually there is. Aside from the possibility that the race organizers will put a bomb under the UCI by flatly refusing the 19th WorldTour team to their races, there is another compromise possible which could even make the racing more exciting: They may decide to reduce the team size from 9 to 8. If they do that, then you can fit 25 teams into a 200 man peloton, meaning they could invite all 19 WorldTour teams plus 6 (six!) wildcards. More teams, less control, bring it on.
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