The International Association of Professional Cycling Teams (AIGCP) has informed the UCI it will fight against the planned reforms of the men's WorldTour for 2017, saying that some news details of the reforms have been approved unilaterally and against the best interest of the WorldTour teams.
In a stern letter revealed by the Radsport-News website and seen by Cyclingnews, AIGCP President Ivan Spekenbrink (manager of the Giant-Alpecin team) and Managing Director Javier Barrio, the AIGCP says its General Assembly on September 30 mandated the board of directors to do whatever is required, legal, collectively or otherwise, to ensure its objectives are achieved.
The AIGCP states clearly that it wants the 2017 WorldTour to include 18 teams so that Bahrain-Merida, Bora-Hansgrohe and Dimension Data all secure places. It also rejects the principle of promotion and relegation and the idea of compulsory participation in the new World Tour races.
The letter says: "The UCI has embarked on a strategy for growing/expanding the number of WorldTour events, and at the same time, killing a number of well-functioning WorldTour teams. By reducing the number of WorldTour licences for teams, the UCI is taking away the economic rights of teams without any justification for it."
It suggests that "No proper process was followed in the expansion of the WorldTour. The UCI Reform outlined a clear process for the evaluation of races to join the WorldTour – to be based on well-defined criteria such as safety standards and team participation – which was not adhered to and the UCI unilaterally submitted a list of races to the PCC to become WorldTour without consideration of the interests of Teams, Riders or race organisers in lower category of races."
"The unanimous position of all the WorldTeams in the AIGCP is that under no circumstance will they accept or comply with any attempt by the UCI to implement any system by which a team is directly or indirectly forced or pressurized to participation in any new WorldTour race."
The AIGCP takes a particularly strong position against the promotion and relegation plans or so-called Challenge System insisted on by ASO.
"Rather than supporting these principles, the proposed Challenge System is designed to relegate and consequently kill well-functioning WorldTeams and promote Pro Continental Teams under the threat of being relegated again 1 year later (exactly what is threatening to happen to Team Dimension Data)," the letter reads.
"The proposed Challenge System will not be accepted by the teams and any attempt to implement such a system will be opposed in whatever manner necessary means to avoid its implementation."
The letter ends by saying "The Board and all the members of the AIGCP are ready to take whatever action is required to protect their economic rights and to achieve the mandate outlined above."
UCI Management Committee
The letter was sent to UCI President Brian Cookson and the UCI Management Committee, who is holding its key meeting at the World Road Championships in Qatar on Wednesday and Thursday.
After years of debate and argument about reforms of the WorldTour format, the UCI announced plans for the 2017 WorldTour in June after apparently reaching a compromise deal with Tour de France organiser ASO, who had threatened to pull their race from the WorldTour calendar.
The UCI has never revealed the rules that teams and race organisers must follow to secure a place in the 2017 WorldTour, with one team manager recently suggesting to Cyclingnews that "they were being made up as we go along."
However the process has moved forward in secrecy, only for the AIGCP to now take a strong stance and reignite the power struggle within the sport.
There was no official reaction from UCI after the publication of the AIGCP letter.