HTC-Highroad road captain Bernhard Eisel has initiated talks with riders and team managers at the Santos Tour Down Under in an attempt to understand more about cycling’s new World Tour structure and the recent reforms put in place by the UCI.
As the 2011 season picks up pace, many key stake holders in the sport are deploring the lack of information and promotion of the World Tour, since the UCI first announced its creation at last year’s world championships in Melbourne. New rules and a secret ranking system to decide the 18 ProTeam for 2011 has also created a lack of clarity.
“If I’m asked what is the World Tour, I’d say it’s like the champion’s league of cycling,” Eisel told Cyclingnews in the lobby of the Adelaide Hilton where all the teams are staying during the race.
“But there should be a proper presentation somewhere. Is there a leader’s jersey? Does the individual ranking or the team classification determine the order of the team cars at the next one day race (Milan-San Remo)? If it’s hard for me to understand which races are in there, how can people who are out of the sport understand?”
“Is the World Tour a league in its own or is it part of the UCI? There must be a clear decision on where we’re going, let say for the next three seasons. Teams and riders must be united to go in the same direction. We want the public to understand our sport. We want a world ranking that determines who is the best rider and which is the best team. The ranking must sanction the season and qualify for the World Tour the following season. The sporting evaluation system is very confusing. We need clarification.”
“I’m very positive about cycling becoming more international with races like the Tour of Beijing”, Eisel said, emphasizing his enthusiasm for the World Tour. “Look at what’s happening here in Adelaide, it’s a big success. But how can I contact somebody about the World Tour? Is there a World Tour manager like Alain Rumpf used to be the Pro Tour manager in the past?
Eisel also wondered why the recently announced Tour of Beijing wasn’t on the World Tour calendar although it’s scheduled for October 5-9, 2011. UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told Cyclingnews: “This race has yet to secure a licence and it’s a pretty long procedure.”
Questions about the Professional Cyclists Association
Eisel also has lots of questions about the CPA, the Professional Cyclists Association that is supposed to represent the rider’s interests, much like a union.
Former French rider Cédric Vasseur resigned as president last year and general secretary Daniel Malbranque has also left his position. Former double world champion Gianni Bugno now heads the CPA after elections in May. However Eisel bemoaned a lack of communication from Bugno and the CPA.
“Cédric was around, he came to races and communicated with the riders, he did a good job at least at the beginning of his term,” Eisel said. “Then he chose to do something else and we heard that Bugno took over. But I don’t know if there has been an election or if it was a decision made by the teams or the UCI or whoever.
"I also heard that Philippe Gilbert and Dario Cioni were our representatives but I’m not sure about that because we don’t have any information letter anymore. I read about the email supposedly sent to the riders about the communication via radio during the races but I didn’t get that email.”
Some riders were angry with Bugno when they read his comments defending riders who had served ban for doping. “I’m not blaming him for saying that,” Eisel outlined. “But it is HIS point of view and I would like to know who else is there at the CPA. How many riders really know what’s going on in this world?”