Unibet.com General Manager Koen Terryn has called on UCI President Pat McQuaid to resign. "Cycling needs stronger leaders. McQuaid is not the man to lead the sport in the future and it will continue to suffer unless there is a change," he said in an interview with the Reuters news agency.
Unibet.com, an online gambling company, announced earlier this week that it will end its sponsorship at the end of this season, two years early.
"The irony is that Discovery can't get a sponsor and we had one which wanted to continue but were forced out. This shows how badly run the sport is," Terryn continued.
Terryn blasted the cycling establishment, saying his team "was used by a pawn for power" by the UCI, Tour de France organizer ASO and Patrick Lefevere, president of the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT). "The sport should not allow the ASO to have so much power. They are acting like a cartel in a bid to break the UCI, so that is why we need stronger men to stand up to them," he said.
The ASO would not let Unibet.com ride in any races that it controlled, citing anti-gambling laws. McQuaid threatened to break with the ASO, but reached an agreement with them in March. Unibet.com was still not allowed to ride either the Giro d'Italia or the Tour de France.
"McQuaid lost the battle in March. He wasn't strong enough and gave in, allowing ASO to do what they wanted," Terryn said. "Lefevere is the head of his own team Quick.Step, so how ethical is it that he is involved in these decisions? He has his own agenda."
Terryn said he understood his sponsor's decision. "I don't blame Unibet. If I was CEO of a company, I could not justify investing eight million euro every year in a team that is unsure whether it will even race in the big tours."