The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), organizer of the Tour de France, Vuelta a España, Paris-Roubaix, and other major races, has threatened to pull out of the UCI’s professional racing calendar next year should planned reforms continue to stall, according to Reuters.
The ASO sent a letter to the UCI stating that it would withdraw from the 2016 calendar should the hotly debated reforms not go forward, an unnamed source close to the UCI management committee told Reuters.
Calendar reforms, a major source of conflict between the sport’s stakeholders, were voted on by the Professional Cycling Council this week but did not pass the UCI Management Committee. The ASO is unhappy with the current calendar, in which major races put on by competing organizers often overlap, spreading out top riders and confusing fans. Paris-Nice, an ASO race, overlaps with Tirreno-Adriatico, put on by competitor RCS, for example, and the Criterium du Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse cannibalize each other each year just prior to the Tour de France. The ASO has sought to ensure that major race dates do not clash.
The ASO’s races, which make up a large portion of the international professional racing calendar, are in no danger of cancellation, but could potentially exist outside the UCI’s calendar.
It’s not the first time the UCI and ASO have squared off. For three seasons, from 2005 to 2008, both the ASO and Giro d’Italia organizer RCS Sport refused to be part of the UCI’s ProTour calendar.
Removing its races from the UCI WorldTour would allow the ASO to select any combination of teams for its races, rather than be forced to include all 17 WorldTour teams with only a small handful of discretionary wildcards.
The UCI responded on Friday, but did not directly address the ASO letter.
“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has been working for many months on the reform of men’s professional road cycling in a spirit of openness and collaboration with all stakeholders. There is a general consensus on the direction towards which the reform should be driven,” it said in a statement.
“We are hopeful to finalize soon our discussions with all stakeholders whether races organizers, teams, riders, around a project that will restore the credibility in our sport, promote the sport in both existing and new markets, make the cycling season understood and attractive to fans and recognize the UCI WorldTour as part of a larger and interdependent system.”
The ASO was immediately available for comment.