Spanish race organisers are currently mulling over a proposal to group all of the country’s events apart from the Vuelta a España into a new race series backed by French credit company Cofidis. The offer has come from the president of the Spanish riders’ association (ACP), José Javier ‘Pipe’ Gómez, who has said that races that join the series would have the costs of dope controls covered, saving them €2,400 a day.
Speaking to El País, Gómez described the proposal as “our contribution to cycling and the battle against doping”. He explained that the Liga de Ciclismo Cofidis would be managed by a foundation (La Fundación Coequipier-Compañero de Equipo) established under the auspices of Spain’s Ministry of Education that is designed to promote bicycle use, road safety and respect for the environment.
Gómez has been working on the project with former ACP president José Rodríguez, who is now a lawyer who specialises in defending athletes accused of doping. Gómez told El País that they have found a number of sponsors in addition to Cofidis and will also receive backing from Spain’s sports’ council. He also said that Vuelta director Javier Guillén “supports the project”, even though Spain’s national tour would not be part of it.
The series could comprise as many as 17 races including the Tours of Catalonia, the Basque Country, Andalucía, Murcia and Castilla y León, as well as one-day events such as San Sebastián, Amorebieta, Ordizia and Getxo. There would be two classifications: for best rider and best team.
Although the race organisers have made it clear that they want to put their events on a firmer footing, they have expressed doubts about Gómez’s proposal. According to Castilla y León organiser and recently elected Spanish federation president José Luis López Cerrón, they have particular concerns in two areas: the handover of image and other rights to the foundation and the use of advertising by the league’s sponsors in their events, which could lead to clashes with existing sponsors. This would be the case with Castilla y León, for example, which is backed by two local savings banks that don’t allow advertising from rivals such as Cofidis.
Gómez’s foundation has said that it will produce a 30-minute programme on each day’s racing that would be broadcast on a channel with national reach. El País indicates this would probably be Marca TV. Gómez played up the significance of this part of the proposal, saying: “At a time when only the most important races are broadcast live, we would guarantee these events a very important presence within the audiovisual media.”