By Anthony Tan
Organisers of a series of what are now been referred to as 'charity' criteriums in Boulder, Colorado have met with the disapproval of cycling's governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), after allowing professionals to compete in an unsanctioned event. In the past, the UCI has often turned a blind eye to unsanctioned charity rides that include the token professional or two, but the fact that Tyler Hamilton, who recently lost a much-publicised appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and competed in the first event held on March 5, most likely has something to do with it.
In November 2005, Hamilton's charity foundation, the Tyler Hamilton Foundation (THF) formed a partnership with Denver Boulder Couriers (DBC) to promote a cycling in Colorado through a long-running series of events known as the Criteriums @ Stazio series. Beginning on March 5 and scheduled each weekend till May, a portion of the entry fees from the series and three additional road races in April is channeled back to the THF, with the funds used to support cycling in the area.
At the time the alliance was created, Denver Boulder Couriers decided each of these races would be unsanctioned to keep entry costs down and allow all levels of racing from young children to seasoned professionals. Furthermore, in 2007, the Criteriums @ Stazio series had been planned to be taken over by the City of Boulder. However, these groundwork plans and in particular the unsanctioned nature of the event, have garnered the angst of the UCI, recently contacting the event organisers to inform them that rule 1.2.019 would be enforced, thereby prohibiting UCI-licensed professionals from participating.
Rule 1.2.019 states:
No License holder may participate in an event that has not been included on a national, continental, or world calendar or that has not been recognized by a national federation, a continental confederation or the UCI. A national federation may grant special exceptions for races or particular events run in its own country.
If professionals choose to continue competing in the Criteriums @ Stazio series, they would risk a fine of 100 Swiss Francs and up to one month's suspension - the latter enough of a deterrent for a paid professional. A number of forums, including www.tetoncycling.com run by Colorado-based cycling coach Jon Tarkington, have urged those who believe the UCI is jeopardising the event to "not let local events that make difference in the lives of so many, young and old throughout our country be threatened. Do not stand by while cyclists who've done no wrong are threatened with suspensions. Let your voice be heard."
One of the most recent posts urges 'believers' to send a letter to USA Cycling's (USAC) most senior staff member, including CEO Gerard Bisceglia, advocating the THF/DBC-run event and all unsanctioned charity events throughout the country. It reads: "One the major activities of USA Cycling ensure the ongoing development and safe participation in the sport of cycling. They have not accomplished that goal through this recent action and they need to hear from their constituents."
The post ends with a familiar tag-line: "This is about believing. It is about believing in our communities, and our rights as individuals. It is about believing in the power of the bike. Join us in our efforts to make a difference."