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CPA threatens to sue TCA citing false information on prize money management system

Women's WorldTour
Women's WorldTour (Image credit: Getty Images)

The Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA) has expressed its intent to take legal action against The Cyclists' Alliance (TCA) for what it described in a press release as 'defamation' citing false information after TCA published concerns and asked important questions about the UCI's Centralised Prize Money Management (CPM) system for professional women's cycling that launched in January.

"After reading the latest note published by The Cyclists' Alliance, the Association of Professional Cyclists reserves the right to sue the TCA for false information disclosed with the clear intention of defaming the CPA and manipulating the riders. The fake news published under the title Centralized Prize Money Management System which this year extends to women's professional cycling, demonstrates the lack of credibility of the TCA on this topic," wrote the CPA.

The CPA is a rider's association launched in 1999 and is currently headed by Gianni Bugno. It launched a women's chapter, CPA Women, in July of 2017 with Alessandra Cappellotto appointed as manager. The CPA and CPA Women are recognised by the sport governing body as the men's and women's rider representatives. 

TCA is also a women's riders' association launched in 2017 that has gained popularity for the amount of positive work it's done to develop women's cycling, from contract and educational support, career advice, and legal and retirement assistance to its informative surveys of female cyclists on important issues, all while supporting more than 150 competing cyclists. It recently launched a new Duty of Care Framework and mentor programme focussed on junior development, mid-career support and retirement.

On Sunday, TCA published concerns and asked important questions about the UCI's newly-launched CPM system for women, seeking clarity and details on how it will manage prize money for female riders. It also requested consultation with the UCI for more details and clarification regarding the new system and how prize money will be managed, and so that the female riders' voices are represented in the discussion surrounding their prize money.

"The prize money belongs to the riders, they should be entitled to take part in this discussion," TCA wrote in a published document on its website Sunday. It provided a model of the current men's CPM system, which was launched in 2019, but noted that the UCI had confirmed the women's CPM would be similar but not identical.

The men's prize money management model involves taking 13.82 per cent in deductions out of the net amount of prize money to put toward Transition Fund (5%), development of national riders' associations (3%), UCI doping control (2%), CPA's administration fee (2%) and its development fee (1.82%) for the men's CPM system. It involves further deduction of administration costs to distribute the prize money.

The CPA clarified in its press release on Thursday that the women's CPM system would not deduct 13.82 per cent, but instead they would deduct only "1.82 per cent levy for management fees (percentage identical to that of men)". In addition, the second-layer deductions would only amount to "a withdrawal of €300 per year per WorldTour team for bank charges" and "€200 per year per Pro team for bank charges" [women's cycling does not have ProTeams with the two-tier teams including WorldTeams and Continental teams - ed.]

"As it was pointed out during the official announcement of the women's prize money management during the World Tour seminar, no other deductions will be applied. It is also important to point out that the management costs of women's prize money, although they have been significantly reduced compared to those previously made by men, will nevertheless not be fully covered by the 1.82% levy. The UCI has undertaken, in its policy of supporting women's cycling, to finance the missing share which today represents more than 50% of the amount. Thus, not only the athletes will be able to benefit from a service that allows the standardization of the management of prizes, transparency and traceability but also optimal financial conditions thanks to the skills acquired by the CPA over the years and the financial support of the UCI," CPA wrote.

TCA had also express concerns that the women's CPM system did not include prize money from lower-level C1 and C2 races, which, they said, are often the hardest to collect the prize money for the riders. The CPA clarified that the UCI aims to apply Centralised Prize Money Management to WorldTour and Pro Series races for the 2022 season before extending it to .1 class races. Athletes will be free to choose an agent, and at what rate, to distribute the prize money within the team and noted that it will respect the representative appointed by the riders of each team.

"Nobody is obliged to choose the CPA as their agent, but if most of the teams choose us, there is a reason. The extension of this management to lower category races is a common goal with the UCI, in an approach that it will have to be pragmatic. In any case, it seems contradictory that TCA opposes the establishment of centralized management and at the same time complains that not all racing categories are immediately included," CPA President Bugno stated. 

"The riders are enthusiastic about how CPM works, with this transparent system no prize money is lost and riders are paid faster. Alessandra Cappellotto and CPA Women are doing important work in partnership with the UCI and other stakeholders to ensure that the gap between women and men is gradually reduced, respecting their specificity. We reserve the right to sue for defamation those who discredit our work by spreading slander and causing only damage to cycling and its protagonists."

Cyclingnews has reached out to both UCI and CPA for documentation, plans and details regarding the new women's CPM system and if riders from the women's peloton were consulted as to the management of their prize money, however, neither have responded.

TCA told Cyclingnews via email on Thursday, it appreciated the CPAs confirmation and additional clarity regarding the reduced percentage of deductions for the women's CPM system, compared to the men's system. However, it is still seeking answers to its initial questions.

"The TCA recently provided riders with a summary of the existing men’s CPM, together with a list of questions we (the TCA and the Rider Council) had asked of the UCI, to obtain clarity around the new system. Whilst we are pleased to see the CPA has confirmed they will only deduct 1.82%, we are somewhat surprised at the response to our request for rider consultation, transparency and accountability. This response should not detract from the questions originally raised," TCA wrote to Cyclingnews.

TCA have indicated that its central concern was that they were not consulted with initial plans of the women's CPM system and that they have requested that riders be part of the discussion regarding their own prize money. It confirmed that the UCI has provided some basic insight into the system following questions from TCA's Rider Council Representatives which include time trial World Champion Ellen van Dijk (Rider Representative) and Leah Kirchmann (Vice-Rider Representative) along with Marianne Vos, Christine Majerus, Amanda Spratt, Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Ariane Luthi, Haley Smith, Marcella Toldi, Agua Marina Espinola, Marieke De Groot and Luciana Roland.

Van Dijk expressed her own concerns regarding the CPA's response to TCA's request for consultation and questioning of the new women's CPM system on social media Friday to say, "Dear @women_cpa, I don’t think this is the best way to contact, but I feel like I need to react to your [sirens]. As riders, we asked @Cyclists_All to ask questions as we need transparency around the prize money platform. All we need is answers instead of a threatening statement."

TCA and its Rider Council have requested information from the UCI, via a letter, that asked the following 10 questions.

The Cyclists' Alliance's 10 questions about new women's Centralised Prize Money Management system

  • Which races will be covered by the CPM system? 
  • What to do with the races not covered by the system, and notoriously the hardest to collect prize money from? 
  • Are the UCI and CPA not creating a monopoly towards other companies who distribute prizemoney (at a lower rate)?
  • Is the independency of CPA, as a union, guaranteed? 
  • If riders don’t want to have their prizemoney managed by CPA, is there an alternative available? 
  • How can you justify that riders that are not a member of CPA do have to contribute to that union and manages money on their behalf? 
  • The prizewinning riders contribute the most to the whole system. Is that fair, looking at each remittance/percentage that is taken of the prize money?
  • How do percentages to be paid relate to the costs actually incurred
  • How does the remittance for the transition funds work -who contributes, who benefits, could the prize money fund a reasonable amount for this fund?
  • How does CPM ensure that organizers pay out the prize money on time?

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.