Still in limbo, Gazprom rider calls for resolution 50 days on from suspension

Nicola Conci has called for the UCI and CPA to act as riders and team staff struggle without salaries and job certainty.

by Jonny Long

After 50 days of suspension from competition following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Gazprom-RusVelo’s Italian rider Nicola Conci has called for the UCI and CPA Union to resolve the situation.

“Our future depends on your choices,” Conci said publicly to the UCI via Twitter, with the team’s Russian sponsor currently banned from funding the squad and their licence to race revoked.

“The words of this post are addressed to the UCI,” Conci wrote in a series of tweets. “It’s [been] 50 days already that me and my teammates of the ex-Gazprom-RusVelo Team have seen our right to do our job revoked. We have seen our salaries and our goals being suspended.”

It appears that talks have been held privately between the UCI, CPA and Gazprom-RusVelo’s riders, but without a resolution allowing either the team to continue or riders to find another squad.

“We waited and worked with you and CPA in a professional way, but you now need to take your responsibilities and solve our situation. The time of answers has come,” Conci continued. “Stop talking start doing. Our future depends on your choices.”

The former ProTeam outfit was home to international riders as well as Russian athletes, who have been left unable to find new teams due to the UCI sticking to the parameters of the rider transfer window and roster size regulations.

This impacted the likes of Gazprom’s Czech rider Mathias Vacek, who won a stage of the UAE Tour the day after the start of the invasion, and team manager Renat Khamidulin previously told CyclingTips that WorldTour teams had contacted Vacek following the team’s ban trying to sign him but that this was blocked.

The broad brushstroke of the UCI’s rules has also had the consequence of a Ukrainian cyclist riding for a now-banned Belarusian outfit unable to race, while Russian athletes on non-Russian or Belarusian teams are still able to compete.

“Aleksandr Vlasov continued racing for Bora-Hansgrohe. But Marco Canola today is not racing. Something is wrong with this decision because it’s not clear,” Khamidulin argued.

As well as Russian athletes employed by non-Russian or Belarusian teams remaining unaffected, the UCI has not banned any Russians or Belarusians from serving within the UCI as long as they are not directly implicated in breaking the Olympic Truce.

This ruling has allowed the likes of Igor Makarov to maintain his position on the UCI management committee, yet fresh sanctions from Canada and Australia, which identified Makarov as a “close associate of the Russian regime” could renew pressure on cycling’s governing body.

Since the suspension of Gazprom-RusVelo, Conci has still managed to compete in UCI races, representing the Italian team at national races such as Per Sempre Alfredo, Coppi e Bartali, GP Industria and the Tour of Sicily, recording a number of top tens as his future as a professional bike racer continues to hang in the balance.

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