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Breakaway cycling league backed by Rothschild

Pat McQuaid faced a barrage of questions.

Pat McQuaid faced a barrage of questions. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)

Cyclingnews has learned that the financial group Rothschild put together a proposal for a cycling breakaway league in the early stages of 2011. The proposal is said to have minimised the influence of the UCI but lacked the cooperation of the sport's biggest race organiser, ASO.

The proposal was subsequently leaked to the UCI and President Pat McQuaid, who confirmed its existence to Cyclingnews. He also added that a second, less professional proposal also landed on his desk.

"One was put together by Rothschild but I don't know who put the other one together. It's not really for me to say where it came from. I don't want to say who gave it to me. It was given to me by someone it was presented to," McQuaid told Cyclingnews.

Cyclingnews reported in March that 11 teams were considering breaking away from the UCI over issues with the governing body's management of the sport, including its institution of rules banning race radios. The cooperation of the ASO was key to the idea as they run the sport's biggest race, the Tour de France.

It was clear by April that McQuaid was aware of the efforts, and in May, McQuaid threatened to charge teams for the cost of the biological passport programme should they conspire against the UCI to form a breakaway league, but at the time he was not worried that the concept - now known to be presented in the Rothschild proposal - would become a reality.

"It was unworkable because of the way it was presented and the financials. The whole project was unrealistic. I'd heard a bit about it before I saw it. We did write to Rothschild but we never got an answer from them."

"The second one was an even more naïve one. It wasn't worked out in a professional way like the Rothschild one was. The second one was just a Power Point presentation basically."

The details of the exact proposal are still unclear but one source, linked to an international race on the UCI calendar, told Cyclingnews that the proposal didn't involve ASO but did detail a restructure of the sport with teams and races and minimal UCI input.

Rothschild is one of the world's largest independent financial advisory groups but their proposal has been put together with the aid of the Gifted Group, a small London company that specialises in television rights bundling deals. They were unavailable for comment.

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