February 15, 2013

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Lots more in the upcoming weeks, so subscribe here to not miss anything.



21 Responses to “UCI vs. CAS”

  1. Stephen Says:

    The idea of smaller teams is a great idea. Much less domination in the longer races should make for more interesting races.

  2. Donal Says:

    Yeah but 25 sprint trains on the Champs? Maybe Desgrange will finally get his wish and only one rider will survive.

  3. Steve O Says:

    8 man teams would be great!

  4. John S Says:

    The 8 man GT team is the only smart option (but when did smart start to factor in when it comes to UCI?). Otherwise 1 World Tour team would potentially get shut out of each of the GTs at the whim of ASO/RCS–and that’s what they pay World Tour licensing money for. Promoters will want Perico in the peloton–a potential disaster for an Argos. I think in a promoter’s eye, a Rodriguez trumps a Kittel + Degenkolb.

  5. alex Says:

    Smaller teams = more teams = more cars in the increasingly dangerous caravan of vehicles before, behind and sometimes within the field?

    • Only of you allow cars. I’ve written about that before, just search for “race vehicles”. Anyway, if people drive the cars irresponsibly, it doesn’t matter how many there are. Or change it to one car per three teams. One neutral driver and one mechanic per team. That’s it. And let riders ride equipment that doesn’t fail. Now THAT would be a development that actually benefits the amateur cyclist.

      • alex Says:

        point taken.
        another thought: how many people other than riders does a tream bring? could there be any problems with hotel rooms etc for races?

    • Touriste-Routier Says:

      Team cars are rarely the issue for rider safety in the caravan. The team cars are generally behind the riders, and there are protocols for moving around (not that they are always observed). The problem is generally with press & VIP vehicles moving up and back, and between groups, without the same degree of driver experience or adherence to/acknowledgement of the proper protocol.

      • James Drake Says:

        Team cars and organiser’s cars ARE an issue and more than one rider has been driven over or pushed aside, most famously in a cobbled classic. This is not a “RARE” occurance, but quite commonplace. I’m not even going to mention the French TV car that took out 2 riders and created a sensation at the TDF (and created a hero, Hoogerland). No, cars and riders don’t mix, so having more cars is not going to make the situation any easier, but quite a bit more confusing. As for equipment not failing.. rarely is it an “equipment” failure. A flat is no-one’s fault and accounts for 90% of race failures, and is quite simply an unavoidable part of cycling. Except if you count the old saddle height fix routine, but that’s normally after someone’s fallen off a bike and needs a push. Let’s be honest.
        But let’s take the equipment discussion further. Why not ‘standardise’ race equipment. Either 10 or 11 speed. Then 90% of your problems go away as you can have neutral service cover the race with just one standard wheel, and just have 1 race car for each team. And that makes it even MORE interesting as the race becomes unpredictable. The team car needs to decide whether to stay with the rider in the break or back with the main bunch.. Decisions decisions..
        Removing one of the team cars, as well as a direct radio link would then return the peloton back to it’s youth, when bike and rider where what mattered.
        Race directors, avert your eyes from the heresy that I am about to say – let the riders decide for themselves how to ride the race, and the most capable, intelligent and lucky rider will get to the finish first.

        • Sorry but a flat is the ultimate equipment failure and mostly preventable. If riders don’t insist on lightweight, tires would flat less. People would simply adjust their priorities if there is no team car. Plus, flats can be fixed by 3 motorcycles even now with 2-3 standards, you don’t need 44 team cars for that.

          I think we both agree on letting the riders decide the race.

  6. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    I have no issue with 8 riders per team, there’s nothing sacred about 9 and didn’t teams used to be much larger anyway? But alex makes a good point on the rest of the stuff, as in support cars. UCI really should cut the top-tier down to the 12 best-financed and stable teams and allow the race promoters to invite 6 teams of interest. 18 X 9 is a large enough peloton!

    • Won’t happen. UCI feels their power is directly correlated to the number of WorldTour teams. Race organizers feel their power is directly proportional to the number of wildcard teams. No one will budge.

      But yes, 18 teams is great. Five riders per team even better. Combine that to 18 teams of five would be ideal.

  7. “Is there nothing fans can look forward to? … They may decide to reduce the team size from 9 to 8…More teams, less control, bring it on.”

    Oh wow – surprise – GV writes something NOT involving doping/anti-doping, and Evan Shaw doesn’t show up to regurgitate his usual frothed-mouth lunatic bile. Just goes to show what I’ve long said, that Shaw and his reprehensible type are not true fans of pro cycling (or any cycling) but rather, they’re shameless scandal-mongers who get off on braying about doping and think that in doing so, they become somehow relevant. But they’re not even interested in pro cycling beyond getting their doping-scandal rocks off to even comment on a non-doping themed blog post!

    One question though – is the 9 rider per GT team a UCI rule or is that an informal GT-organizer race protocol? And what are the vested interests that would align in opposition to a 1-rider per team reduction? Or should this be an easy sale?

    • moskowe Says:

      Wait, who’s a shameless scandal-monger ? Sounds like someone else is looking for attention…

    • Papp, I welcome all comments but what’s the point of this one? Oh wow, surprise, GV writes something NOT involving doping and Papp manages to post a comment that is about doping again.

  8. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Perhaps it’s time to exercise some editorial control Gerard? I hate to see your exercise devolve into name-calling and vitriol. There’s enough of that over at cyclingnews these days.

  9. James Drake Says:

    The reduction of team sizes from 9 members to 8 was actually suggested some time back in order to REDUCE the size of the peloton, especially at the Tour De France where the sheer size of 200 riders scrambling down wet and slippery roads have given us some of the most memolrable race crash disasters we’re all too familiar with. Remember Vino with a shattered leg. Schleck on his side? Half the peloton splayed out along the road. Cancellara playing “patron” neutralizing a stage to protest (and Cervelo’s anger at having lost a potential sprint finish!). Riding fast is a dangerous sport, but in a sport where statistically you have a 1 in 4 chance of having a prang, we should be trying to make it just a little bit safer, not less. Having MORE teams may make the race unpredictable, bring more hardware (see team vehicles) and generally cause even more mayhem as lower-tier teams with an inevitable lessening in skill create an even more dangerous race. From my own very amateur races I know how race starts can go flat out in order to weed out the weaker and more inept riders. Doesn’t always work! Some other posters have also made a similar observation about race logistics.. having extra teams means a big issue for organisers as each team has a masseur, doctor, team manager, sponsors, cars (at least 2!), busses.. and god know’s what else. I adore big stage racing and being able to have more of a “choice” of teams to support at the major races.. but except for the biggest and most famous races, it’s an expensive business staging them, which is why quite a few have closed their circuits and disappeared. So let’s think of rider safety and let’s think of the poor organiser as well, before suggesting even more complicated logistics and chaos and crashes! So by all means le’s make the team size 8 riders. Just don’t “fill” the start-line for the sake of it.

    • Sorry, but it’s not nearly as big an issue as some people see to want to make it. As an ex-team owner I think of which I speak. Masseurs and mechanics are directly related to the number of riders, having a smaller team means fewer of those too. Especially if you go with my idea of making teams of five. It also takes out a doctor, etc. So in the end you will have fewer riders and fewer staff if you do it properly. With 8 man teams, you may not quite get there, but it won’t be far off either because 9 is actually a very annoying number. You ideally want 2 riders per masseur if you don’t have much time till dinner, so having 8 is a lot better than 9. And there is a lot of flexibility in team size and plenty of hotel rooms, etc, every team complains every year that they don’t get enough rooms from ASO, but in the end everybody has a bed.

      The argument that it’s expensive to stage races is also off I think. Right now it’s only the three GT that have 9 riders, and they don’t have financial issues. So it would only affect the wealthy races and again, I am pretty sure they would save money if they did it well.

      And the number of team cars can easily be reduced from 44 to 25 by going from 2 cars per team in the race to one. Or my preference, to zero.

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