UCI searching for new 2014 worlds host

With Spain's deadline for its financial guarantee for the 2014 world championships approaching, the UCI has begun searching for a new host

MILAN (VN) — The Union Cycliste International (UCI) is searching for a new world road championships host for 2014. Cycling’s governing body has given Ponferrada, Spain, a deadline to guarantee its money and has already started talking to new candidates.

UCI President Pat McQuaid confirmed to VeloNews that he asked Gerrit Middag, head of the events department, to contact potential hosts.

“I told him,” said McQuaid, “‘Get on to all your contacts, people that you’ve been dealing with in relation to possible world championships in the future. Ring them all up and say there’s a possible opportunity. And are you interested?'”

Ponferrada, near Leon in Northwest, Spain, won the right to host the UCI’s annual championship event last year. However, with Spain suffering from the ongoing financial crisis in the eurozone, Ponferrada is facing difficulty paying the guarantee. It needs to pay the UCI approximately €5.5 million ($7.07 million) as an up-front pledge to host the worlds — with additional costs coming down the line.

Valkenburg, Netherlands, budgeted about €12 million ($15.42 million) for this year’s worlds. On September 14, the regional government of Tuscany and the city of Florence, Italy, confirmed €32 million ($41.12 million) for next year’s race.

“I can assure you that the funding will be in place,” Ponferrada mayor Carlos Lopez Riesco told local news agencies over a week ago. “We will find the money from private funding. We will do everything we have promised to make the event a success.”

The UCI needs more assurance. Last week at the worlds, its management committee gave Ponferrada organizers 30 days, or until October 19, “to meet contractual commitments” or “the event would be withdrawn from them.”

McQuaid told VeloNews, “[Middag] has a list of people who are interested if it comes up, who would say, ‘Yes. We are interested.'”

He added that there are a couple of candidates the UCI is talking to, but he would not reveal the names. McQuaid said it would not be Qatar, who won the right last week to host the 2016 edition: “They are going to need that length of time to prepare for a world championships.”

Richmond, Virginia, will host the worlds in 2015.

Belgium, France and Norway are likely candidates. Bergen, Norwega, officially announced its candidature for 2016 and 2017 last week. Shortly afterwards, the 2016 edition went to Qatar. Any potential 2014 host, however, would have to be cash-rich and organized enough to prepare in under two years.

McQuaid argued in a mid-week press conference that the €5.5 million hosting fee is worthwhile.

“It’s not a question of the fee,” he said. “The economics of the world championships work for a region, particularly with the new team time trial and the full week of activity. It works for the region and makes sense economically. The thing, in Europe at the moment, is to try to find regions that have that money to invest. And that’s not so easy.”