The Velon group announced on Friday that it has made an additional complaint agaist the UCI to the European Commission, amending a previous filing with charges that the UCI was discriminating against women's cycling.
According to the Velon press release the organisers of Tour des Fjords, who also run Hammer Stavanger, wanted to add a women's race to the Hammer event, one that would offer full gender parity in race format, courses, length, television time and prize money. Through the Norwegian Cycling Federation, the group applied for sanctioning to the UCI and, according to Velon, the race was part of the UCI Road Commissions's draft 2020 calendar passed along to the UCI Management Committee for approval.
"However, the UCI informed the Norwegian Cycling Federation on 18 October 2019, a week after the formal publication of the calendar, that the UCI Management Committee had refused the application, stating that a women's Hammer race 'was not in the best interest of women's cycling'," Velon stated. "This followed the UCI's refusal to support Hammer Colombia, announced on 14 June 2019, an event that would also have offered a women's race which was fully equal to the men's."
"We have had the ambition of organising a women's race since we started in 2013," said Roy Hegreberg, Event Director of Tour des Fjords AS.
"We believe international women's cycling needs events that will give them stronger visibility to develop. This is what we offer with Hammer Stavanger: equality for women and men in terms of promotion, visibility, prize money and sporting aspects. We can't see any reason why the UCI doesn't want to approve this race."
Velon says it has amended an earlier complaint to the European Commission to include the discrimination against women's cycling. The original complaint said the UCI of "implemented existing regulations and sought to introduce new ones that are designed to favour the UCI's business interests to the detriment of the teams".
It accused the UCI of using its regulations and political power to block Velon's business activities.
The group had planned to add a Hammer Colombia event to its calendar, but the February date was rejected after the Colombian Cycling Federation cited a date conflict.
The UCI also wrote into its rules that Hammer Races may not be referred to as a Series.
Velon includes 11 of the 18 men's WorldTour teams: BORA-hansgrohe, CCC Team, Deceuninck - Quick-Step, EF Education First, Lotto Soudal, Mitchelton-SScottCOTT, Team Ineos, Team Jumbo-Visma, Team Sunweb, Trek-Segafredo and UAE Team Emirates.
Aside from the proposed addition of women's races to the Hammer events, the group has little representation from women's teams or riders, and has not previously advocated for the business interests of women's teams.
Cyclingnews requested a comment from the UCI regarding the Hammer Stavanger women's event but did not receive a response before the publishing of this article.