The organisers of the Clásica de Almería revealed that this month’s edition of the well-established one-day race was in jeopardy due to a lack of funding. Scheduled to take place on Feburary 26, the 27th edition of the event had a 30,000-euro hole in its 110,000-euro budget, largely because local government agencies have not fulfilled their commitments in previous seasons. However, the officials of Almería have since stepped forward and taken measures to ensure the race will happen.
José Manuel Muñoz from Alcide, the organization behind the race, had told La Verdad that the race is “closer to not happening than it is to taking place”. While not wanting to point the finger of blame at anyone in particular, Muñoz said that “there are people who could have done things before in the right time and place which they are only now trying to do now”.
He explained that, although the organisation is getting strong support from the present Almerian regional government, the previous administration had acted “very badly” when it came to coming up with funds promised to the event. A few of the local councils involved had, he said, also failed to honour their commitments, some dating as far back as 2005.
“It’s a complicated situation,” Muñoz admitted. “In the face of this type of uncertainty, it’s difficult to move forwards. There are certain deadlines that have to be met and processes that have to be fulfilled. It’s no good getting the money that’s required three weeks after you need it. Once the calendar is set out, rules have to be published, contracts signed and presented to the UCI. But we’re not able to do this because we can’t finalise them.”
Muñoz had explained that this situation brought an additional concern: that teams might take action against the race organisers for failure to honour their commitments. “If any team decides to make a complaint to the UCI in the event of the race not taking place, I will be obliged to make a payment to them. That penalty cannot be avoided,” he said.
In the past day, the president of the province Gabriel Amat, the City's mayor Luis Rogelio and Sports Councillor Ángeles Martínez have made it possible for the 2012 event to happen.
Elevated to 1.HC status by the UCI during the World Championships last September, the race has tended to favour sprinters. Greg Henderson and Theo Bos have claimed the title in recent years, while Italy’s Matteo Pelucchi won the event in 2011. Garmin, Rabobank and Lotto have already confirmed their participation in this year’s race, which takes place three days after the final stage of the Ruta del Sol.
Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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