On Monday morning, Lance Armstrong was stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles and was issued a lifetime ban. This is old news and at the moment, I could care less. I’ve moved on.
This morning, I saw this tweet from Karl Lima. Karl Lima is a team manager for a Norwegian women professional team and is a very active tweeter covering European races. It’s a rarity to find such great coverage from a team manager even if it’s only on tweeter. Karl’s excitement during the races are contagious and very exciting!
Here were Karl’s tweets this morning: (applies to womens professional teams)
“UCI will no longer invite the 5 best national teams to World Cups, category .1 and 2.HC races.”
“From now on only UCI womens team will be specially invited to the top events.”
“UCI also added several other measures to avoid to strict bonds / cooperation between federations and UCI teams”
What does this mean? Since, we are getting a small piece of information from someone who knows more than the rest of us. The message can be interpreted in many ways.
Here thoughts that came into my mind. It’s lame. UCI must be smoking dope.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert on UCI rules and my opinions are formed as a fan who follows bike racing.
National teams provide opportunities to grow as an athlete and the exposure they need to compete internationally. National teams are a stepping stone to a professional cyclists career specially in the US.
The statements will bring a new challenge to USA cycling. USA cycling teams race in Europe to gain experience, develop into better racers, represent USA and an opportunity to expand as a professional cyclist. Women’s National Development program provided the women a residence in Lucca, Italy to help national racers achieve their dreams as a professional cyclist.
“By competing in larger and deeper fields, faster races and on the type of roads specific to European racing, Americans will gain experience that isn’t readily available in the United States.” ~ USA Cycling Website
Katheryn Curi Mattis, a National Champion and current co-director for Vanderkitten-Focus women’s team explains on our facebook page comment:
“Allowing National teams to race in WCs also allows up and coming riders an opportunity to race in bigger races and get experience/exposure without needing to be on a UCI team.”
There are only 2 UCI registered teams in the US. Tibco and Exergy teams as far as I know. If you are interested in knowing how to form or register as a UCI team, check this page from USA Cycling. It takes a lot of money and commitment to form such a team. Hats off to Tibco and Exergy womens team in breaking out to the international scene. It’s a lot of hard work!
Without national team opportunities it is going to be a harder for a American professional female cyclist to compete in world class races. With recent developments related to the Armstrong affair, It will be harder to fund an American UCI team, and even harder getting into a European UCI program.
Obviously, I am speculating about what UCI is meaning to do however, it’s time that we start thinking about this change and how it’s going to affect women professional cycling as a career. It is not going to be an easy journey.
Let’s re-visit the last statement:
“UCI also added several other measures to avoid to strict bonds/cooperation between federations and UCI teams”
It’s sometimes suspected that National teams riders racing in World Championships would work against each other and commit their efforts to their UCI trade team teams. Example: Evelyn Stevens, representing the USA at the World Championship, would not contribute as a team player for Team USA because she would be committed to helping her team mates on Lululemon/Specialized. If you look at the scenario, priority of keeping a World Championship jersey in a team would be more appealing for sponsors.
I agree with Billy Crane’s comment on NorCal CyclingNews facebook page:
“Looking outside the US: Australia also has a large national team presence in Europe. All the European national teams look to this as development as well. It sounds like the intent is to prevent collusion between trade teams and National Teams, which I don’t believe has or is enough of a threat to the quality of racing to justify this rule change.”
But, it is merely speculation, and maybe the UCI is not going to undermine National teams in such a negative way. Of course their thought process and actions are not always very well thought out or, as we have seen recently, competent. Representing your own country is important to a lot of women in the peloton. Any logic that would lead the UCI to think there is a conflict of interest for riders is shallow and does not justify the change.
Why the change all of a sudden? We won’t know until the UCI explains.
If you have an opinion about this latest change from the UCI, share with us on NorCal CyclingNews facebook page.
Your voice matters and a vehicle for change!
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