The UCI has clarified today that it will maintain control over any reforms to the professional cycling calendar. The statement comes after news reports on the plans of Omega Pharma-Quickstep owner Zdenek Bakala to reform cycling into a "Champions League".
Bakala and his business partner Bressel Kok put forth their plans on Friday, stating that they had the support of the UCI to finance reforms that include a new race series, ranking and points schemes, television revenue sharing and a more transparent anti-doping campaign.
The UCI today confirmed that it has been in discussions with Bakala and Kok since late 2011, but stated that any changes would take place under the UCI's domain.
"These discussions have included their potential financial investment in a new joint venture company with the UCI and other cycling stakeholders that would promote and organise elements of this new calendar," the UCI stated. "The UCI has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with them as the initial investors in the joint venture and will now enter into extensive dialogue with the teams and race organisers before any final agreement is concluded."
The governing body this week launched a new study group which will bring together the sport's stakeholders to discuss the future of cycling. It stated today that this "consultation will have a considerable bearing on this proposed joint venture and the future road cycling calendar".
The UCI clarified that no agreement has been reached on any reforms, and that when changes are made, "the UCI will retain full control over the calendar, including sporting and technical elements. The UCI and the investors are also committed to ensuring that the final structure of the joint venture will avoid conflicts of interest."
UCI president Pat McQuaid stated, "Improving the professional road cycling calendar for spectators, cyclists, teams, organisers and sponsors is a priority for the UCI. Cycling is one of the world's most popular sports and we are committed to take this to an even higher level.
"In Zdenek Bakala and Bessel Kok we have cycling fans who have already done much for the sport but who want to invest further. That demonstrates the confidence they have in cycling and we are keen to partner with them and others. We look forward to making a formal announcement on this as soon as possible next year."
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