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Drapac Professional Cycling has been given a special dispensation for 2014 and will take part in the Subaru National Road Series (NRS) as part of their international racing calendar. The deal was put to the UCI by outgoing Cycling Australia commercial director Michael Edgley and has been confirmed by Oceania president Tracey Gaudry.
“This year there has been a dispensation to allow ProConti teams to race in the NRS, for this year only,” Gaudry told Cycling Tips. “Part of that is to help bridge the gap that at this point there are not a significant number of Continental events in this region, but also to provide a motivation for other teams to step up.
“I certainly at this point had not recommended that it extend upon this year.”
Aside from adding races to Drapac’s calendar, Cycling Australia also wants to maintain the high standard the NRS achieved last season.
“The access for Drapac to compete in the NRS, that was applied for last year by Cycling Australia, and the reasoning there is that it was such a fantastic season in 2013, it was amazing,” added Gaudry. “It’s about consolidating that series.”
Drapac General Manager Jonathan Breekveldt confirmed that Drapac would be racing some of the NRS but the full extent depended on invites to other races.
“We haven’t fully decided that at the moment as some of that is pending invitations from other international races,” he told Cycling Tips. “I would say at the moment we’re probably going to commit to 65-75% of the NRS and then the other 25% we will just play by ear.
“If we have any more injuries then we’ll definitely have to pull back on the NRS because we just won’t have enough riders. Or if we get an invitation that we didn’t expect to receive then, well … without discrediting the NRS, it’s our backfill.
“When we have a hole in our program we fill it up with the NRS basically.”
Article 2.1009 from the UCI regulations for the provision of road races states that “only the UCI continental teams of the country, regional and club teams, national teams and mixed teams may participate in national events,” but it is this rule that is being overlooked for 2014.
It was put to Gaudry that the estimated budget of a ProConti team is in excess of $2 million, a contrast to some NRS teams which operate on $10,000 to $50,000. Would this disparity be detrimental to the growth of the NRS?
“When it was going across the bow of the UCI, the stipulation was that it’s a one year arrangement only and that we’re also wanting to build the continental calendar and build a mechanism for teams to progress from NRS to Continental,” explained Gaudry. “Continually allowing developed teams to race back at NRS level isn’t going to help that progression.”
What are your thoughts? With Drapac’s upgrade to the Pro-Continental ranks and significant step up in budget, riders and support system, should they be allowed to race in Australia’s NRS series? Or is this unavoidable due to the shortcomings of a sparse calendar in the Oceania region?