After several countries failed to fill their allocated spots for the UCI Road World Championships, and some established cycling nations failed to qualify a single spot for the elite men's road race, Cyclingnews asked UCI president Brian Cookson whether the governing body might consider allowing countries to forfeit their spots in favour of nations who did not qualify.
For example, while Sweden did not qualify any places for the men's road race, while Morocco and Turkey each qualified three riders and Iran earned six spots but none of these countries entered riders.
Cookson told Cyclingnews the UCI may revisit the rules at the end of the year with this in mind. "It's a shame they're not here. One understands there are reasons why they sometimes don't [race], all we can do is look at the circumstances and review them year by year, and try to give nations the opportunity to grow, and to challenge the established nations.
"We always look at rules on a constant basis. Take the example of Sweden, it's not a new nation in cycling. They've usually qualified in the past. There may be some particular circumstances this year. Cycling is becoming more global, the calendar is more global, so there are more opportunities for more nations to qualify. It wasn't too long ago that I was president of British cycling and we only qualified one or two riders, and now we have one of the largest teams. These things do ebb and flow. The road commission will be looking at the qualifications for next year, as we do in the review at the end of the year."
Next year's world championships will take place in Qatar, which will in some ways level the playing field, as the country has no established professional teams, and few countries will have a short trip there, but it can create a burden on the national teams with smaller budgets. This year the fields will likely be short a dozen or so riders, and there's the potential that next year could see more unfilled rosters.
When asked if there was a chance the UCI might allow countries to forfeit places so the entries can be reallocated, he said it was something the UCI could examine. "I would like to see the full number of riders in every event if we possibly can. If nations, if riders haven't qualified, there's a reason for that, which is they haven't scored points which means they haven't been as competitive as perhaps they should be. But we can look at the circumstances, there will be a review every year as always."
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Managing Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.