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by Shane Stokes
January 6, 2015
The UCI has been working for several years to try to reform the sport of professional cycling, with new team structures and smaller WorldTour rosters two of the changes previously specified as likely by the governing body.
This would coincide with a reworked professional calendar and possible adjustments to the length of Grand Tours and other races to avoid overlap.
However, the managing director of the professional teams’ organisation AIGCP, Luuc Eisenga, has said that he believes the projected 2017 date for the new system is now unlikely to be met.
Eisenga explained that he felt the ongoing negotiations between the UCI and teams were not sufficiently advanced to meet that deadline.
“There is still a good chunk of work to do,” he confirmed to CyclingTips on Monday. “So basically you have to calculate backwards [to see if the timescale is feasible – ed.].
“If something is to be up and running from 2017, then rule changes should be in place some time in advance. I would say that this is a challenge.”
Eisenga’s comment on the timeframe for the new system syncs with what rider agent Paul De Geyter told CyclingTips recently. He said that he had spoken to several team managers and been told by them that they considered the reforms were more likely to take place at a later date, perhaps as late as 2020, rather than 2017.
He also said that the feedback from those managers was that the WorldTour team cap would be increased from 22 to 25 riders. The limitation had been one which prompted concern amongst riders as it would see the size of the professional peloton reduced by several riders per team.
Both the 2020 date and the increase to 25 riders are yet to be confirmed but, as Eisenga suggests, the 2017 implementation date of the reforms seems more difficult to attain.
He said that talks were ongoing with the UCI.
“Progress has to be made soon as the reform of cycling and stability of teams is long overdue,” he stated, adding that he believed that things were gradually moving in the right direction.
“One of the main goals is to get a stable foundation with the teams so they can be a good environment for riders to perform in. That is the most important thing that has to be done.
“The University of Lausanne did a very good study saying if you want to change the culture of cycling, you have to change the way teams are funded. The current system of a team being 95 percent dependent on sponsorship is obsolete.”
Attempts to seek comment from the UCI on the matter have not yet been successful.