Concerns raised in Ponferrada over potential Worlds debt

Representatives of two political parties in Ponferrada, the Spanish town where the world championships were recently held, have claimed the event may have created a significant debt running into several million euros.

Local media reported that two opposition parties, the Partido Popular (PP) and the Unión Progreso y Democracia (UPyD), have demanded that the official accounts be made public to reveal whether this debt exists.

In February this year, the total estimated cost of the world championships was reported to be €11 million. €5 million were due to be paid to the UCI, while the budget for holding the eight-day world championships was said to be around €6 million.

At that point the Mayor of Ponferrada, Samuel Folgeral, said that 70 percent – €7.5 million – of the budget had been covered.

However, according to the newspaper ileó, the opposition spokesman Juan Elicio Fierro said on Friday “the public have a right to know what the [financial] consequences of the Worlds have been, because from the little we do know, it seems to have been a financial failure.”

Unconfirmed reports in the Spanish media suggest that the possible debt could be as high as €6 million. However, as the accounts are not public, it’s not clear whether this debt actually exists.

Although there were initially serious economic concerns about the viability of Ponferrada as a world championships, as long ago as October 2012 these were said to have been resolved. Spanish media reported that the financial problems had been solved with high-percentage tax breaks for sponsors and the help of the regional government as guarantor of the payment to the UCI – until the opposition raised these questions again.

The event itself was run smoothly with no major logistical issues barring the comparative lack of hotels in the immediate area. Some of the most popular areas, such as in front of the podium, were inaccessible for the public, and there were reports that some of the hillier segments were hard to reach because of excessive barriers. The UCI, midway through the Worlds, gave the races a full vote of approval.

Although there was a reasonable turnout of fans, they were not present in massive numbers compared to a Worlds in Belgium or the Netherlands, for instance. This is perhaps not surprising given that Ponferrada is a town with a population of under 100,000, one-day racing has a comparatively low popularity in Spain compared to the Grand Tours, and the nearest large city, León, is over 75 minutes’ drive away. The absence of Alberto Contador, Spain’s most popular cyclist, perhaps also detracted from the crowds

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