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Bernhard Eisel (Sky) lines up for stage 1 of the Tour Down Under.
Athletes commission members sees improvements in the sport but lack of communication
Two years ago, Bernhard Eisel raised questions to Cyclingnews in a story entitled “Eisel bemoans lack of clarity and promotion of UCI World Tour calendar” as the new series had just been introduced after the ill-fated ProTour. In the meantime, the road captain of Team Sky took a constructive stand as he entered the athletes commission of the UCI. Two years on, same place (Hilton hotel, Adelaide), same time, we’ve asked him to comment on what has been done since.
In January 2011, Eisel said: “If I’m asked what is the WorldTour, I’d say it’s like the Champions League of cycling, 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? 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’s 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 WorldTour the following season. The sporting evaluation system is very confusing. We need clarification.”
In January 2013, Eisel says: “Through my meetings in a commission that includes all aspects of cycling like mountain biking, paracycling, track racing etc. I’ve realized that the UCI has also done many good things for cycling, but their PR has been so bad that they never got any good publicity out of it.
“I’m not here to defend the UCI”, he continued. “Those meetings haven’t changed my mind, but for example, they have pushed hard to make sure that teams have the money in the bank and riders get fully insured. They have taken this part to a much higher professional level in recent years.”
About the introduction of the WorldTour to a large public, Eisel is confident that “the UCI website should become attractive soon.” The series has started this week at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide in the absence of a representative, and with nobody from the governing body for the teams and media to talk to, but Eisel explained that [World Tour coordinator] “Javier Barrio had so much work at the office that he only managed to attend two races last year and that was during his off-days.”
“It’s again a question of PR,” the Austrian said. “We could use the WorldTour as a brand.”
“It was easier for me to comment from the outside two years ago”, he added, but yet noted – like everybody else – that “the sporting evaluation system could be better.” The man who called for clarification two years ago still awaits a proper explanation from the governing body on why Katusha has been excluded from the World Tour. “Whatever the reasons were for the decision of the commission, the public and the riders need to know. Once again, it’s a problem of communication.”