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The California-based Sho-Air-Cannondale mountain bike team is the first squad to announce its stand against a rule barring riders licensed by the sport’s world governing body, the UCI, from taking part in events not sanctioned by the UCI or USA Cycling. The team announced on Monday that it would send a roster to late April’s Whiskey 50 in Prescott, Arizona, that includes Jeremiah Bishop, the overall leader of USA Cycling’s flagship cross-country series, the Pro XCT, and seven-time national champion Pua Mata.
Sho-Air president Scott Tedro was defiant in a press release, staking out his position and citing “hundreds of phone calls, e-mails, and Facebook posts regarding this issue by fans, friends and fellow riders stating their discontent and asking for help.”
“I have spent countless hours trying to negotiate a solution for all parties involved regarding this issue to no avail. The time has come to take a stand and lead by example, as this issue will affect us all, not only the professional rider, but the master and junior amateur rider as well, that just want to race their bikes and have fun,” said Tedro. “We also are supporting the promoter’s right to choose not to sanction with USA Cycling. Freedom of choice is a right that must be protected.
“We are supporting Todd Sadow and Epic Rides and will attend his event, the Whiskey 50, in full force. We do not recognize the UCI or USAC’s authority to take away unalienable rights of liberty when it comes to a rider’s desire to compete against his or her peers whether it be to earn a living as is the case for a professional, or to experience the joys of competing for fun while pursuing a healthy lifestyle as an amateur. We challenge the UCI and USAC to fine our riders for representing their team, sponsors and fans by participating in the Whiskey 50. Any negative action taken towards our team or riders will be met with an immediate and appropriate response.”
Joining Bishop and Mata in Prescott will be winner of the National Ultra Endurance series opener Alex Grant and former master world champion Tinker Juarez.
USA Cycling contacted UCI-registered mountain bike teams in late 2012, warning that the international governing body had instructed it to enforce rule 1.2.019, which bars UCI athletes from unsanctioned competition. USA Cycling fined a number of athletes, including Olympic bronze Medalist Georgia Gould (Luna Chix), over their participation in June’s Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado.
The UCI clarified its rule last week, leading USA Cycling to announce that all athletes, professional and amateur, would be subject to fine and suspension if they are found to have taken part in a forbidden event while holding a UCI license. According to USA Cycling COO Sean Petty, the maximum penalty is a fine of 100 Swiss francs and a one-month suspension.
The announcement met with vocal opposition, with Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Trek), Ryan Trebon (Cannondale), and Barry Wicks (Kona) among the athletes to speak out publicly.
The Whiskey Off-road festival opens Friday, April 26, in Prescott, Arizona, and concludes Sunday, April 28, with the Whiskey 50.