By Raol Awileus
The UCI announced this week that it would impose an immediate restriction on the length of team names in order to integrate its whereabouts system with other worldwide databases. In the midst of creating a global integrated website to pull together the massive amount of data created by its biological passport program, the sport's governing body ran into a major snag - long team names would not fit in the database.
"Unfortunately, every team seems to have its own system for tracking rider whereabouts," said a UCI spokesman. "It all comes down to the weakest link, and that was one system, which will remain nameless, which had a constraint on the team name field." The field length was set to 32 characters, far too small to allow the entire team name of squads such as the Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli team, which clocks in at 47 characters, but it most certainly would not accomodate the An Post-M. Donnelly-Grant Thornton-Sean Kelly Team and its unwieldy 50 letters.
"The UCI understands that title sponsors want to be represented in all the results and press that the team earns, but it's getting out of hand! First we had US Postal presented by Berry Floor and now every team is presented or powered by a minor sponsor. 50 years ago, a team could fit its name on the front of one crudely stitched woolen jersey. We're recommending that teams pursue title sponsors with shorter names if they want to incorporate them all into its identity."
"Astana, Liquigas, Quick Step - they're all great teams and have names which are succinct and memorable. Do teams really think that including five different sponsors in the name is going to increase the impact for each company?
"We also suggest that the teams leave off 'pro cycling team' or 'cycling team' from the name for brevity's sake. If you're in a bike race, we all know you're a bike racing team, isn't it a bit redundant?"
None of the ProTour teams will be affected by the change, although the Cofidis, le Credit Par Telephone squad is right on the limit with 32 letters.
"We considered restricting the amount of capital letters in the name, too," the spokesman continued, "but we couldn't come up with a technical reason why it should be disallowed. However, we are looking into the concept for future seasons for purely aesthetic reasons."