Rumpf: UCI to discuss reducing ProTour teams

By Shane Stokes In addition to giving the UCI’s position on Friday’s decision by the International...

Licence decision due ‘by Wednesday’

By Shane Stokes

In addition to giving the UCI’s position on Friday’s decision by the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) to exclude Discovery Channel and Active Bay, ProTour manager Alain Rumpf spoke with Cyclingnews about the IPCT’s backing of a plan to reduce the number of ProTour teams to 18.

"This is a discussion that took place yesterday amongst the teams of the IPCT, so I will not comment on that," he stated. "They are responsible for the discussion and they should communicate themselves about that. But what I can say is that the UCI ProTour regulations that have been put in place by the ProTour Council say that there shall be a maximum of 20 licences. The responsibility to make the decisions on who gets the licences is up to the License Commission, and they have no obligation to give a full 20 licences.

"There is a maximum of 20 and they have to check if the candidates respect the quality criteria as laid out by the ProTour Council. So it may be that there are 20 teams, or it may turn out that there are just 19 or 18 teams, eventually."

He said that while the number of top teams may drop, the UCI is under no obligation to bring this about just because the IPCT want it to happen. "It is not binding... They have discussed it and their opinion is that there should be 18 teams in the ProTour. But as you know, the ProTour Council is made up of representatives of teams, plus also those of the riders, the organisers and of the UCI; only the ProTour Council makes the decision. That said, obviously if they come with this recommendation or opinion, then it will be discussed within the ProTour Council. That is for sure."

The UCI is currently going through the process of deciding who will hold ProTour licences from the start of next season. There are currently two slots to be decided; Unibet.com, Barloworld and Astana are fighting it out for the slot vacated by Phonak this year, with the latter team having been provisionally refused last month.

Manolo Saiz’ Active Bay is meanwhile trying to show that it has the necessary backing to hold onto its licence, although that has been complicated by the fact that Saiz is claiming Astana as his backer. For its part, the conglomerate of Kazakh companies is saying that a contract signed earlier this year is invalid as the team did not ride the Tour de France.

On Thursday, the Licence Commission met and heard from some of those concerned. There has been a delay in communicating the final outcome but Rumpf gave clarification that this was due soon. "We have been informed by the License Commission that they will communicate the decision as soon as next Wednesday, the 13th. That is all we know at the moment. Like the teams, we are waiting for the decisions of the License Commission."

He detailed what happened on Thursday. "On the 7th , a number of teams exercised their right to be heard by the commission. The procedure is such that first of all, the commission gives a preliminary opinion on the license, and then later the teams have the right to be heard by them. Now they are waiting for the final decision of the License Commission based on these hearings.

"I have no real idea as to the reason for the delay, except for the fact that they probably want to take a bit more time to ensure that they make the right decision," he stated.

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