The Dutch Association for Professional Cyclists (VVBW) has announced its decision to leave the Professional Cyclists Association (CPA), citing the latter's inability 'to meet the expectations of progress from the riders'. In addition to leaving the CPA, the VVBW has confirmed its endorsement of the recently launched Cyclists' Alliance, a women's organisation set up by former professional Iris Slappendel.
"The elected board of the VVBW, after consulting with and taking a poll of the Dutch pro riders, has taken the decision to withdraw its membership from the international cyclists' union, the CPA," a statement read.
The VVBW, which was a founding member of the CPA, said in its statement that a lack of reforms and progress was behind its decision. Chief among its concerns was a lack of diversity in member nations, with only nine countries able to vote on reforms. The VVBW criticised the CPA for failing to represent riders from countries that don’t yet have their own national professional riders association, saying that it had been "a shortcoming for almost 30 years since the CPA came into existence."
"To the present day, three primary European cycling countries control the politics of the CPA, and the VVWB feels this isn't a true reflection of the men's professional 'peloton' in the year 2018," it said.
Alongside diversity, the VVBW also pointed to financial and legal concerns in its reasoning. It said that there was an 'alarming' financial shortage in the rider's retirement Solidarity Fund 'which can no longer be ignored'. Similar to a pension, the Solidarity Fund is financed by a percentage of prize money and riders who have completed five or more years are able to apply for it at the end of their career.
The VVBW expressed concerns that it had regarding the CPA would affect its women's chapter, which was launched towards the end of last year. With that in mind, it confirmed that it would work with the Cyclists’ Alliance, which was also unveiled towards the end of the year. At present, the Cyclists’ Alliance represents the women’s peloton solely, but they have not shut the door to including the men's peloton in the future.
"Taking into account the CPA's many deficiencies in representing the men's peloton, the VVBW believes that any representation of the women’s peloton by the CPA is not in the best interest of the riders," it wrote. "Therefore, the VVBW formally announces its support of The Cyclists’ Alliance, the independent initiative founded by Iris Slappendel to organize and represent the international women’s peloton."
The VVBW said that it may return to the CPA, but only if it was able to create a new structure that allowed international riders to be united, and the problems surrounding the Solidarity Fund were resolved.
CPA accuses VVBW of focusing on money over riders
The news of the Dutch association's departure engendered a strong response from the CPA, who accused them of being more interested in the financial benefits of their move, rather than 'defend the rights of riders'.
"The CPA has repeatedly asked VVBW to review their decision to leave the CPA because they did not want to believe that the Dutch association pre-empted private economic interests to those of defending the rights of riders," the CPA wrote in a statement sent to Cyclingnews.
It also accused them of having a conflict of interest, due to their relationship with a company called Cycling Service, a Dutch outfit that acts as an intermediary between, riders, teams, race organisers, and federations. It said that the decision by the VVBW to leave the CPA came after a recent vote by the UCI's Professional Cycling Council (CCP) on the management of riders' prize money. The Cycling Service will not be one of the companies involved.
"The statements in the statement by VVBW are not correct, but above all come from those who acted in conflict of interest,” the statement said. “VVBW has been a member of the CPA for many years and if the criticism of the CPA was true, it could have opposed or quit the CPA before it was decided by the CCP (Professional Cycling Council) to entrust the management of the riders’ prize pool.
"At the moment, some members of Cycling Service are carrying out a real campaign of denigration against the CPA, both through the media, social media, and through riders, with the aim of asking that the new management of the prizes, which would damage the Cycling Service, not be implemented. The article that explains the reasons why VVBW came out of the CPA, is the background to this campaign of denigration."
In relation to the concerns that the VVBW had regarding Solidarity Fund, the CPA admitted that there were some issues in raising capital due to some races not paying their percentage, but said that nobody had gone without.
"No rider was ever denied the contribution, not even to Dutch riders who now criticize the work of the CPA on social media," it said. "The members of VVBW were regularly informed about the situation of the Fund and could have asked to be part of the CPA Commission charged with managing the Fund if they wanted to make changes to its management."