French Pro league to take UCI to court over 2017 WorldTour reforms

Marc Madiot

Marc Madiot (Image credit: Sirotti)

The Ligue Nationale du Cyclisme (LNC), headed by FDJ team manager Marc Madiot, is ready to take legal action against the UCI regarding the planned reforms to the WorldTour calendar for 2017.

The LNC governs and coordinates professional racing in France and has always defended French cycling and the season-long Coupe de France race series. They are concerned about the addition of 10 new races to the 2017 WorldTour calendar.

Any obligations to ride the new WorldTour events could force the French WorldTour teams to focus on international events and so damage French and other minor races in Europe that have traditionally been part of the professional race calendar.

The LNC, which said in September it would seek answers and was prepared to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to resolve the issue, claims it has been left frustrated by the UCI's reluctance to explain the reasons behind the WorldTour reforms. It has decided to commence legal proceedings after a unanimous vote by its board members.

There was no initial reaction from the UCI when contacted by Cyclingnews. 

"We have mandated our legal adviser Ellipse Avocats to initiate proceedings against the UCI under the relevant jurisdiction," a statement sent to Cyclingnews from the LNC confirms.

The LNC believes it is acting in the interests of international cycling as well of those of French teams and race organisers.

"The LNC is acting in the interest of French cycling, its riders, teams and organisers, but also in the interests of everyone in international cycling. The globalisation of our sport cannot happen via the suppression of the pyramidal system as part of the 2017 WorldTour plans," the LNC statement reads.

The LNC's belligerent position comes on the day the UCI's Professional Cycling Council (PCC), responsible for the technical and administrative organisation of WorldTour, is due to meet in Geneva to approve the rules for the 2017 WorldTour.

Cyclingnews understands that the PCC will agree that that 18 teams will be given places in the WorldTour peloton in 2017, overturning initial plans to reduce the WorldTour to 17 teams. The PCC is also expected to formalise the number of WorldTour teams, if any at all, that will be obliged to take part in the ten new WorldTour races, such as the Tour of Qatar, Abu Dhabi Tour, the Tour of California and the RideLondon Classic. New WorldTour races face significant extra costs but currently do not know which WorldTour teams will line up for their races.

In a recent opinion piece for Cyclingnews, Cannondale-Drapac team manager Jonathan Vaughters described the current WorldTour structure as a 'race to the bottom'.

Madiot has often spoken out against the reforms of the WorldTour, including in his blog for Cyclingnews. The reforms have also seen Tour de France organiser ASO at loggerheads with the UCI in a power struggle for control of the sport.

"It's just impossible for a team of 30 riders to take part in all the 37 races of the new series," Madiot argued, highlighting the impossibility of dealing with clashes where teams would be expected to send teams and resources to up to three different events at the same time.

"The calendar doesn't make any sense, with three WorldTour events clashing one week after the Tour de France: San Sebastian, RideLondon and the Tour de Pologne. We'd need forty riders to do it, but budgets can't be increased just like this in a few weeks."

"There's no way I'll skip some races in my country! Sponsors in cycling need their local exposure too and it's part of our duty to support local races as well."

"Teams haven't been consulted before this calendar was established and there'll be kind of a revolution."

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