All 18 WorldTour teams are set to boycott the team time trial at the 2016 Road World Championships in Qatar this October in the face of an "abuse of power" on the part of the UCI.
This week, the Association International des Groupes Cyclistes Professionels (AIGCP) – the professional teams' association – ratified the motion to skip the trade-team event after an "overwhelming majority" of WorldTour teams voted in favour.
WorldTour teams are required to participate in each event on the WorldTour calendar, but are also obliged to compete in the TTT at the World Championships, the only road events run by the UCI, entirely at their own expense. The AIGCP, which claims its demands to the UCI have so far fallen deaf ears, feels the terms of participation are "abusive" and said that unless the terms are revised, the race will take place without the sport's top-level teams and riders.
The vote took place during the AIGCP General Assembly on July 1, with the intention that action would be taken should a solution not come by early August. It is understood that the attending Pro Continental teams also supported the motion.
"The abovementioned [sic] terms of participation which exist nowhere else in the sport are undeniably abusive and reveal the abuse of power which UCI incurs in [sic] when it enforces them solely for the one road competition it operates," read a statement issued on Wednesday. "All WorldTeams are expected to skip the TTT World Championships until these abusive practices are abolished."
The Worlds TTT also comprises lower-level teams but the loss of the marquee top-tier teams would be a crushing blow for the UCI at its flagship event. The AIGCP expanded on the reasons it feels the governing body's terms are unfair:
"This situation is highly irregular in the context of professional road cycling
• insofar as the WorldTour licence should only compel the teams that are granted one to take part in the events which are granted a WorldTour licence by an independent Licence Commission;
• and even when required to take part in a WorldTour event, WorldTeams are always granted a participation allowance to cover some of their costs;
• insofar as it evidences the fact that the governing body has passed exceptional legislation which solely favors the one road competition it owns and commercially exploits."
Contacted by Cyclingnews for comment, the UCI provided the following statement;
"The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is of course disappointed with such a statement and we continue to expect excellent participation in this year's UCI Road World Championships Team Time Trial. The UCI Road World Championships is a celebration for the whole cycling family and the UCI, as a non-profit organisation, reinvests any surpluses in the development of the sport of cycling."