AIGCP calls on UCI to take greater responsibility for protecting rider safety

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Just over one week after the professional teams’ association AIGCP called on the organisers of the Giro d’Italia plus the race commissaires to agree to demands to revise the general classification times in the race, that body has commented further on the controversy of the Giro’s Stelvio stage, as well as an earlier leg of the race.

It has expressed its displeasure with events during the Grand Tour and has said that the UCI needs to assume greater responsibility and authority in order to safeguard riders and the regulations.

The AIGCP had originally expressed its discontent last Wednesday in relation to the events of stage 16. Although race organisers had said via race radio that the descent of the Stelvio would be neutralised due to dangerous conditions, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin Sharp) and Pierre Rolland (Europcar) pushed onwards in a small group and ended up gaining time over the other general classification contenders.

Quintana ended up taking over the Maglia Rosa of race leadership from the previous wearer, Rigoberto Uran.

That led to a crisis meeting the following morning by team repsentatives [pictured above], plus a call by the AIGCP’s for a reduction in the amount of time the three riders gained in the general classification. However this was refused by the UCI.

The association’s president Luuc Eisenga then told CyclingTips that further action was possible, and while nothing transpired during the remainder of the race, the AIGCP said on Thursday that the UCI needed to “step up into its role as regulator of our sport.”

That statement said that stage four to Bari and stage 16 to Val Martello Martelltal were both major causes for concern.

The first of those saw the riders competing on treacherously slippery roads, and to impose their own measures to try to avoid dangerous crashes.

“In those occasions, it should not be the riders that feel forced to neutralize the race,” said the statement. “The jury is not only there to regulate, but also to protect the health and safety of the riders. The absence of regulation lead to an unsatisfactory race.

“The situation on the Gavia and Stelvio is comparable with the issues in Bari. The complete absence of clear regulation and judgement could have had an influence on the result, which is unacceptable. Whereas ALL teams agreed that fair play was more important than hiding behind rules and procedures, the jury decided not to change its position and chose to blame the organiser for giving the wrong information on the race radio.”

The AIGCP argued that an ambiguity between the organiser and the UCI must end, and the latter must step up to the plate as regards making responsibility decisions in races.

“To us, only the UCI chief commissaire will make any announcements on route changes, neutralisation etc. and he will enforce these changes. Only the UCI chief commissaire can and will judge if a race is safe enough and it is only the UCI chief commissaire who can decide and overrule the opinion of the organiser, riders and teams.”

It added that the commissaire needs to both stand by that opinion and also take responsibility for those choices. Also, if in doing so the commissaire consults with organisers, the AIGCP states he should also consult with teams and riders.

“In our ambition for fair and credible sport, ALL stakeholders must work together to make sure the rules are clear and executed in a objective and credible way,” it concludes.

Eisenga told CyclingTips last week that he intended speaking to UCI president Brian Cookson about the incidents of the Giro d’Italia; it is not clear if this has already taken place, or indeed what the next steps will be if the UCI does not agree to the latest call for action.

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