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ASO vs. UCI: Condemned to repeat history?

Can cycling avoid becoming a total wreck?

Can cycling avoid becoming a total wreck? (Image credit: AFP)

As the Tour de France prepares to make its depart under the governance of the French Federation in defiance of the UCI's rules, the sport's political problems are as far as ever from being solved. Cyclingnews' former motorsport journalist Greg Johnson finds some parallels in the world of auto racing that can serve as a warning to cycling's power brokers.

There is a very sad reality to the current political climate of international cycling – it's all been done before. I'm not talking about the barrage of threats in the UCI Vs. Grand Tours battle which is annually followed by an 11th hour truce before the Tour de France starts each July. No, this battle – from beginning through to resolution – has been fought within other sporting frameworks for many years.

Founded in 1900, cycling's international governing body – Union Cycliste International – is by no means a young organisation. It has lived through each and every one of these battles, yet shortsightedness has seemingly prevented it and Grand Tour organiser Amaury Sport Organisation from learning from others' experiences.

At the heart of cycling's political bickering is money. Television rights from events such as ASO's Tour de France, and its newly acquired stake in the Vuelta a España, is a multi-billion dollar industry. While UCI's claim of wanting to protect the rights of those employed within the industry is true to an extent, its desire to gain a share of the financial windfall of television rights has long been one of the sticking points in negotiations with the sport's biggest promoter.

If we look outside of our two wheel, pedal powered sport to the four wheeled world of motor racing for a moment, we will find some of the strongest parallels with the UCI/ASO situation in the world of sport: Should cycling follow the path of the first, it could suffer a steep decline, while the second path could yield a much more positive outcome.

Continue to the full feature.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

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