Deceuninck-QuickStep rider Michael Mørkøv has expressed his frustration with the UCI, questioning the governing body's role in the sport after the latest in a string of safety-related incidents, while calling the professional riders' association, the CPA, a "worthless organisation".
Morkov was speaking to Cyclingnews after completing stage 2 of the Tour de Wallonie, where he and many other riders complained about unsafe conditions, from an "unbelievable" road lined with potholes, to temporary traffic poles lining the "incredibly dangerous" run-in to Wavre. Race director Christophe Brandt apologized for the poor conditions saying late changed had forced them to use secondary roads.
It came the day after the Critérium du Dauphiné peloton enacted a go-slow start to the final stage in protest at a poorly surfaced descent the previous day, and two days after Il Lombardia, where Max Schachmann was hit by a car and Remco Evenepoel crashed over a low wall into a ravine on the notorious descent of the Sormano.
Riders complain about dangerous roads at Tour de Wallonie
Remco Evenepoel fractures pelvis in Il Lombardia crash
Riders protest about safety at Critérium du Dauphiné but the race goes on
Maximilian Schachmann taken down by car in Il Lombardia
Kruijswijk and Buchmann crash out of Criterium du Dauphiné
Earlier this month, Mørkøv's teammate Fabio Jakobsen suffered life-threatening injuries at the Tour de Pologne when he crashed into barriers that collapsed on a downhill sprint that had long been seen as dangerous.
"Where is our federation?" Mørkøv asked on Monday.
"The UCI has said so many times 'it's not our responsibility', but I don't agree. When we participate in a UCI race, it's the UCI that's ultimately responsible.
"What's fresh in our minds is Fabio in Poland. That was a WorldTour race and there were such bad conditions with the barriers. There should be really specific UCI rules on these things. They say 'it's not possible to examine the parcours beforehand' but they need to give fines and punishments to stop the race organisers from doing it.
"They always say it's not their problem but I don't agree. In the end it becomes our problem. We have no chance to do anything or say anything."
If Mørkøv feels riders don't have a voice, it's surely an indictment of the Cyclistes Professionels Associes, the international association of pro riders.
The CPA, which is funded by a percentage of ride prize money and helped via donations from the UCI, has come under scrutiny over its ability to effectively stand up for riders' interests, with more than 300 riders recently signing a petition to push for reform this summer. The CPA has always said it tries to do all it can to improve rider safety.
"In my opinion, the CPA is a completely useless organisation," Mørkøv said.
"I don't know what the CPA is. I believe they're in partnership with the UCI, because the UCI created it.
"I know there are some people there doing some things but they never seem to do anything that you can actually see happening. They have no power to change anything, so it's a worthless organisation."
As such, Mørkøv can only see "one solution", and that's for change to come from the UCI, but is pessimistic about it ever happening.
"What I don't feel is that the UCI is our federation. It should be. It should work with the riders, but I don't feel like that. I feel like it's against us, actually."
Mørkøv confirmed that he and his fellow riders would not perform any kind of protest at the Tour de Wallonie, arguing that he's still "interested in racing – not demonstrating".
Asked how the riders can get through to the UCI, he appeared resigned to being powerless to force change from the top.
"No one has ever succeeded with that. It just feels like you're talking to a wall. For my whole career I've been wondering what the ambition of the UCI is, because it never seems to be to do any good for racing," he said.
"As a rider, you never feel you can communicate with them. I don't know anyone at the UCI, I have no clue what they're doing. I've just seen Lappartient talking about motor doping and other ridiculous stuff, but that's it. They should be doing things to improve our safety instead of giving us fines for all these stupid little things."
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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.
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