Garmin-Sharp Team Manager Jonathan Vaughters said that following Katusha's late admission to the WorldTour, the UCI's decision today to have 19 teams in cycling's top league for 2013 was, at this stage of the year with the season already in full swing, "the only solution". But in the mid- to long-term, he called for a restructuring of the regulations governing admission to the WorldTour to avoid incidents like the prolonged saga over the Katusha team.
A member of the Professional Cycling Council (CCP) which took the vote today that increased the WorldTour to 19 teams, as well as president of the teams association, the AIGCP, Vaughters told Cyclingnews that he had supported the measure rather than reduce the WorldTour back to 18 by removing another squad after Katusha's inclusion.
"If you think about it, doing anything else mid-season - if they [the UCI] had pulled out another team, that team was going to appeal to CAS [the Court of Arbitration for Sport] as well and then [assuming the appeal succeeded, they would have had to pull another team, and it would just have gone round and round," said Vaughters. "It's just not reasonable to do it any other way."
As for any possible opposition from the race organisers over having automatically to admit 19 rather than 18 WorldTour teams, Vaughters said "I think Katusha, because of their strength as a team, more often than not, would have ended up being a wildcard squad anyway. And so, therefore I don't think that many races are going to be too heavily burdened by this."
"For those races which chose not to have Katusha as a wildcard, that is going to place them in a difficult situation. They'll either have to carry the [financial and logistical] burden of one extra squad or reduce their wildcards by one. That's certainly something that's regrettable, but from what I can see, the race organisers are generally taking on that burden in a gentlemanly way."
Looking further down the road, Vaughters said, "My personal position is that this selection procedure [for the WorldTour] should not be a yearly process."
"This process needs to occur once. There need to be more permanent franchises in cycling. Cycling suffers from constant upheaval and that puts it on the back foot."
"You need to take on these battles once and then it's done. Have it reviewed after that at certain junctures for sure, but it can't be a year-to-year process." On top of that, Vaughters said, "The selection criteria needs to be defined, understood, transparent and public and WADA-code compliant."
"It's difficult when the ethical criteria are somewhat obscure. A more open process would be helpful, as well as one that can be put through the rigour of CAS and be successful."
"I don't have all the answers, I'm the first one to say that, but the less often you can have this licencing process, the better."