Steels: Moving World Team Time Trial could damage it

Omega Pharma-QuickStep directeur sportif Tom Steels believes that separating the World Team Time Trial Championships from the main competition next year could have a negative impact on the event. The team time trial, for trade teams, was brought in for the 2012 Worlds, with Omega Pharma-QuickStep winning the opening two editions of the event. BMC succeeded them as champions in Ponferrada, as they had to settle for bronze. BMC manager Jim Ochowicz has already lended his support, saying that it should stay as it is.

Steels – who helped lead QuickStep to their victories - says that moving it away could be bad for the fledgling event. "It is going to be a totally different concept of you do it at a different time," he told Cyclingnews. "Within the teams it already important, especially for the manufacturers, but with the public it still has a long way to go. I think, if you split it, it is doomed. It is still too fresh to do to be separated from the main event."

It was reported in the Dutch media on Monday that several teams had requested that the event be held independently for the next two editions, due to the costs that will be incurred for travel. The 2015 World Championships will be held in Richmond, Virginia and in Doha, Qatar a year later. The report stated that it could cost teams in the region of €35,000 to travel to the one-day event.

"For sure, it's expensive but that's the sport itself," said Steels. "We also have to go to Australia and to other countries to race. That's the sport. Every team has to go abroad to race and to split it up now would be bad. The financial cost, they have to compensate it, but I don’t know how."

Currently all 18 of the WorldTour teams are obliged to take place or face a fine, as it is treated the same as the events on the WorldTour calendar. However, Professional Continental teams can refuse to go and, if costs are too high, there could be a vast reduction in the numbers competing next September.

Steels told Cyclingnews that this would be more favourable than two separate events. "It is always going to be a big fight between the big manufacturers. So the prestige of the title will not be less. I think it will lose a lot of power if you separate it from the main event then I think the value will be less, not with less teams."

There is another, internal, driving factor for Steels and his team to ensure that the two events stay as one, especially for next year's edition in the United States. American bike manufacturer Specialized currently supplies the Belgian outfit along with Astana and Tinkoff-Saxo. In total, there are five WorldTour teams riding American bikes, plus three US registered teams – Garmin-Cannondale, Trek Factory Racing and BMC.

"For them, it's a really big event," he explained. "I think they also have a lot of interest in the Worlds being in their home country. They spend a lot of money. One of the biggest investors in cycling is the bike manufacturers. They have saved cycling over the last few years a few times. So for me personally, I think it would not be wise to split it up."

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