UCI president Pat McQuaid has warned 'certain team bosses' that their plans to set up a breakaway league are doomed unless they gain favour from Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), RCS and other race major organisers. McQuaid, who has two-and-a-half years left on his second term as president has also suggested that he may stand for re-election in 2013.
"It's not a great concern," he told Cyclingnews when asked about the prospect of a breakaway league being formed and being run directly against the UCI.
"These leagues work well in North America with sports like baseball but that's in an entity of its own. Cycling has unity in that is has 175 federations associated to the UCI. We're the world governing body recognised by the IOC and international framework. That's extremely important."
Last month Cyclingnews reported that up to 11 teams had considered breaking away from the UCI and it appears McQuaid will address the matter on Monday in a meeting in Brussels between the UCI, current ProTeams, Continental teams and teams looking for ProTeam status in 2012, including GreenEdge.
"It's all very well for the managers of certain teams at the top level to think they can create a different league or a series amongst themselves for their own personal gain and ambitions and think they can go in a different direction but it's not as simple as that," said McQuaid.
When asked to clarify which teams were leading the breakaway faction, McQuaid refused to name any of the parties involved, although he had previously linked Radioshack's Johan Bruyneel to the league.
"I don't want to say but I'm aware of certain team managers. I think they've lost a little common sense as to what their role is. In cycling we have the UCI, the governing body, organisers and you've got teams. What's happened here is that some team managers have got a little bit too ambitions and they want to be in the role of manager and or organiser of events. It doesn't work, it's crazy."
"Team managers, their role is to organise their teams and rider to compete in events and win events. They're a small group of people but it doesn't work. I don't see how it can succeed."
It has been speculated that any potential breakaway would need the cooperation and support of the major race stakeholders if it were to succeed. For example, ASO, who organise the Tour de France, Dauphine a selection of the one-day races and who have a share in the Vuelta. They strengthened their own relationship with the North America's biggest race, The Amgen Tour of California, earlier this year, signing a two year deal that involves television rights.
"You could say it depends on where ASO stand but also RCS and a number of organisers," said McQuaid.
"They may go outside the UCI with a number of events but if they go out with one then they're leaving behind others. Unless they take ASO, RCS and number of other organisers from the UCI they're doomed."
The breakaway league is just one element that McQuaid has faced difficulties over. In recent months he has been besieged by opposition against the UCI's stance on banning radios, as well as the governing body's handling of Alberto Contador's positive test for clenbuterol. The UCI have also threatened Floyd Landis with legal action and has faced a backlash for introducing the 'UCI approved stickers'.
Despite all these elements, McQuaid hinted that he may stand again as president once his term runs out in September, 2013. He became president in 2005, beating Spain candidate Gregorio Moreno and built his campaign on a platform of globalising cycling with the backing of the outgoing president Hein Verbruggen.
"It's too early to speculate what's going to happen in the next two-and-half-years and I have enough on my plate in the sport trying to deal with various issues in the sport, the breakaway league, doping, teams, without even thinking what I'm going to do in two years time," he told Cyclingnews.
"But for me my objectives, aims and ambitions are to globalise the sport and get rid of doping and they're not something I can see being achieved in another two years so chances are that I will stand again."
Under the UCI constitution a president may serve for an unlimited amount of time if he or she continues to receive the majority of votes at the quad-annual election (a part of the 'UCI congress' usually held at the world championships).
McQuaid's 'global' strategy suggests that his current support base should remain, at least for the foreseeable future as he brings cycling to China, India and deeper into North America.
Any election is based on a majority from 42 votes attributed to delegates from the five regional federations: Africa has seven delegates, America: nine, Asia: nine, Europe: 14, and Oceania three.
"I just concentrate on my job and the way I want to bring on the sport. If someone else thinks they can do it differently or better, that's up to them.
"Globalising cycling does give me a good base but my objectives are to develop the sport around the world. I work on a daily basis with Africa, America, and Asia to develop it. That's got nothing to do with whether they would vote for me or not."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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