Vuelta/UCI clash continues

By Hedwig Kröner

The disagreement between the organisers of the Vuelta a España (Unipublic) and the International Cycling Union (UCI) continues. In an interview with the online version of Spanish newspaper Marca, Unipublic's general manager Ignacio Ayuso complained about the deteriorated relationship between the two bodies, and explained that the UCI's threat of not letting the Spanish athletes participate in the World's was one of the factors that could lead to a definite split between the Grand Tour organisers and the UCI.

"Our differences with the ProTour are minimal at the moment," Ayuso told Spanish journalist Josu Garai, "but we cannot accept that we are being threatened for each different point of view. They threatened Spain to not let its riders participate in the Madrid World's - it's outrageous." In the days leading up to the main event, the road race on Sunday last week, the Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) had asked for a Trustee to examine the presidential elections taking place on Friday, where the new president of the UCI, Pat McQuaid, was voted for.

Ayuso continued by saying that the Vuelta management did not want to leave the UCI race calendar, but that if the UCI continued its "aggressions", all three organisers of the Grand Tours (ASO, RCS and Unipublic) would consider a definite split. "For example, if they [the UCI] sanctioned the RFEC [the Spanish cycling federation] for its support of the Spanish candidate for presidency - that would be an aggression to the big three, and we would respond unanimously."

Asked if the Grand Tours could survive without the ProTour, Ayuso confirmed. "Perfectly. We're not looking for it, as our interest is to continue the discussions with the UCI, but if they oblige us to go, we will. The big three are owned by powerful communication groups and we're prepared - working on an alternative plan if they oblige us to leave the UCI."

Schenk appeals to civil court

Meanwhile, former German Federation president Sylvia Schenk, whose complaint to the IOC Ethics Commision was rejected last week - although the IOC Commission regretted a possible appearance of a clear preference of the UCI for one candidate, according to the full text of its decision - told Cyclingnews that she saw herself forced to appeal to a civil court in Switzerland.

"Normally after an election I would say 'Give the new president a chance and help to unite the UCI behind him in order to help cycling to overcome its actual problems.' But the UCI Appeals Board decreed that I have to pay more than 25,000 Euros of costs - and of course I cannot accept that. Fearing costs like that, no one will ever try to appeal to the internal bodies of the UCI in order to get a decision if a question of compliance with the UCI Constitution arises!," Schenk said, after coming back from Madrid.

A civil court in Switzerland would of course look into the whole case again. "Before the Appeals Board, the UCI refused to let its employees be heard as witnesses, this will be different before a civil court," Schenk added.

Schenk also confirmed, and regretted, the difficult relations between the UCI and the Spanish Federation. "It is time to make peace now - I was very sorry and even ashamed when no official representative of the UCI attended the gala evening hosted by the Organisation Committee on Saturday night," she concluded.

Unipublic's general manager Ayuso also reported that presents made by Unipublic to 20 members of the UCI - watches - were sent back recently.

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