There is a difference of opinion between the UCI and ASO as of how to run Pro cycling. (Just in case you do not know what this is all about, please see below: What happened…)
My comprehensive analysis
Bicycles and cycling races are much longer in existence than any cycling organization ever (please see below: A short history of cycling). And because cycling races provide a platform to present racers who entertain the public you can compare them to the film business with the cycling race starring as the cinema itself respectively the projecting screen and the racers as actors. The operating cinema company itself should stay independent as does an organizer of a cycling event, simply to ensure that the best movies/riders are selected to entertain the public.
On this account the organizers of cycling races need the freedom to decide by their own how they would like to run the events that they have financed and organized. This means, amongst others, that the income of the event (e.g. selling of TV rights, advertising revenues, etc.) belongs to the race organizers simply because they organized the event.
In addition the race organizers should be able to decide which riders and teams they would like to take part in their events. That way, various teams could participate in big races by convincing the organizers with arguments on and off the road (e.g. by providing exciting and entertaining racings including special marketing ideas as well as image campaigns, etc.).
The current system (World Tour) ensures that big budget teams (World Tour Teams) can take part in all the big events like the classics and the big stage races, but ignores the fact that the spectators would love to see the most entertaining riders and the best show possible. Big budget does not necessarily guarantee a big show, e.g. there are a lot of really boring big budget films out there and a lot of interesting and exciting independent and low budget movies waiting to be discovered. And it’s the same story with pro cycling, therefore the race organizers should be able to invite the most exciting riders and teams. This would lead to an open system with much more entertaining aspects and equality.
As already mentioned, the riders deliver entertainment in races as do actors in movies. On this account they should be payed for their show on the road (in races).
In addition to the usual prize money, every rider who participates in a race (i.e. who is part of the show) should get paid by the race organizers for their attendance at the event itself. The rider could keep a third of the racing wage, a third could be given to his team and the last third could be given to the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) who has to manage the Pro cycling scene and organize the world championships. The Pro cycling system would become much more stable, if riders, teams and the UCI would get an extra income sponsored by racing events.
My suggestions for a conflict resolution
The UCI should not interfere in the internal processes and decisions of the race organizers.
The ASO should support cycling in general (including the UCI, urban cycling, etc.) and not only their own business interests. This would support both interests by improving the situation of the Pro riders, the cycling scene, the organizations as well as the cycling events. In addition, the cycling scene and cycling races would become much more fascinating.
Pro cycling’s two biggest players, the UCI and ASO, are struggling to control the sport.
The organizer of the Tour de France, Amaury Sport Organization, issued a press release in December 2015:
“The Amaury Sport Organization has informed the Union Cycliste Internationale that this day it has opted for a registration of its events on the Horse classe calendar for the season 2017. UCI has actually recently adopted a Reform of the World Tour calendar from season 2017 characterized by a closed sport system. […]”
ASO does own six famous cycling races: Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix, La Flèche Wallone, Liège-Bastone-Liège, Criterium du Dauphiné and La Vuelta a España. In addition, the Deutschland Tour is set to be re-launched in the next two years, with ASO and BRD (the German Cycling Federation).
The current 18 World Tour Pro Cycling teams are eligible to enter all of the UCI World Tour races. The UCI Reform of the World Tour offers three-year licenses for the 18 World Tour teams, in contrast to the previous one-year licenses.
The ASO’s pronouncement to not register their events as World Tour races means that the ASO will have the freedom to choose which Pro Cycling teams could participate in their races. If you are an UCI registered World Tour Pro Cycling team this will not longer ensure that you will be invited to the popular ASO events.
What UCI president Brian Cookson said:
“Expanding sponsorship opportunities for teams is [the reason]why the UCI wants to offer World Tour teams a three-year license and why it is against the ‘open’ model touted by ASO.”
What 36-year-old Tinkoff Pro cycling rider Michael Rogers said:
“Anyone who’s been around in cycling for a long time knows that disputes between certain race organizers and the UCI are nothing new”.
A short history of cycling
Giovanni Fontana builds the first human powered land vehicle in 1418. It had four wheels and used an endless rope connected via gears to the wheels.
The bicycle went through several metamorphoses, from the wooden and rigid “celerifere” (1790) to the “velocifero”, until finally in 1888, Dunlop invented the pneumatic tires.
The first bicycle race is popularly held to have been a 1,200 meter race on the 31st May 1868 at the Parc de Saint-Cloud, Paris.
On November 7, 1869 the first long-distance road race between two cities took place. It stretched from L’Arc de Triomphe in Paris to the Cathedral in Rouen and was attended by 304 racers.
Following the Paris-Rouen race, the pace of change in cycling intensified. The same year, the London – Brighton race was born.
In 1870, the first Italian road race was held between Florence and Pistoia.
However, the first “classic” Italian race was the Turin – Milan in 1876.
In 1890, another race was created: the Paris-Brest-Paris.
The International Cycling Association (ICA) was the first international body for cycle racing, founded by Henry Sturmey in 1892.
The first edition of the legendary one-day professional bicycle road race Paris-Roubaix took place in 1896. Famous for rough terrain and cobblestones, it is one of the “monuments” of the European calendar.
The Union Cycliste International (UCI) was founded on 14 April 1900 and took over her ICA.
The first Tour de France was held in 1903.
Six years after the first Tour de France, the second of the Grand Tours, the Giro d’Italia, was started. The “Giro” was preceded by Milan – San Remo, “the Spring Classic” or “the Sprinter Classic”, also known as “La Primavera”.
First held in 1911, the Volta a Catalunya (Tour of Catalonia) is the fourth-oldest still-existing cycling stage race in the world.
The Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders also known as De Ronde) was established in 1913.
Finally, in 1921, the first International World Cycling Championship was organized in Copenhagen.
Inspired by the success of the Tours in France and Italy, and the boost they brought to the circulations of their sponsoring newspapers, the editors of the daily spanish Informaciones adopted the concept to Spain. La Vuelta (the Tour of Spain) was first held in 1935.
Everything that follows this glorious prelude is written in the history of Racing.
Gerd is a former racing cyclist who works in the media & consulting business since more than 20 years, and combines his racing experience with his media expert knowledge. He is also an independent film maker and a part of the “global cycling tribe” (twitter.com/cycling_one) that is currently building up a cross-border pro cycling mini team.