(continued from Looking forward – Part 2)
The unabated sewer of bad news flushes in it’s full might as new misery is piled on pro cycling every month. This season has already seen the demise of world number one cycling team HTC-Highroad and the untimely passage of Leopard-Trek after completing only one year as an individual brand. If that wasn’t enough, in the last few days professional cycling has been punched in the guts by the news of suiqshy-squashy Geox pulling out of their commitment with Team Geox managed by Mauro Gianetti. Barely few days after sealing the deal with 2011 Vuelta a Espana winner Juan Jose Cobo, Gianetti was let known of the fact that he’s utterly disliked by Geox management. The transfer market officially closed on October 20 and this only means that more unemployed riders have been pushed on the street to search for a new team.
There are already many high profile controversies and scandals which are awaiting justice and this new development throws another spanner in the ill-maintained machinery of professional cycling. November 20 will hopefully put an end to the well done Clenbutador saga. In the wake of recent CAS rulings of Clenbutarol cases arising in Mexico, it appears that Contador has been thrown a lifeline. People could argue that both cases are nowhere correlated but Bertie’s star-studded legal team is more than capable of inventing the similarities. But before that we will know more about the curious case of Alex Rasmussen, the most unorganized rider in the history of professional cycling (Jeannie Longo, anyone?) He has already been helped by the incompetence of UCI and should be back by April of the next season.
Without taking anything away in terms of seriousness of these decisions, the most important issue is the debate surrounding the role of UCI in sustaining the sport. After launching it’s entrepreneurial effort under the most obvious name of Global Cycling Promotions, UCI officially dived into the business of organizing cycle races in the nooks and crannies of the world. But credit where it’s due, I applaud UCI for their vision to tap into the nouveau riches of the Far East in these troubled economic times. The money earned from these races has been promised to put back into the development of cycling but how it will be done has not been made clear by the UCI. Some of the accounting involved in the operations of GCP will put even a mom and pop store in good light which is the reason people are not ready to believe uncle McQuaid.
Another equally relevant and connected issue is the assessment of the current model of team organization. After the painful examples of HTC-Highroad, Team Leopard and now Geox, UCI should seriously rethink the model if they’re interested in the sustainability of the sport. More accomplished bloggers have expressed their concerns on the matter more eloquently. Jonathan Vaughters has been championing the overhauling of the current system and the recent events will strengthen his case. Although I don’t have much confidence in AIGCP after when they pussyfooted the issue of Tour of Beijing. But when it comes to his own existence, man can be a hard nut. Apart from all the races and checking out how new team lineups workout in 2012, we will be forced to keep a close look at the sustainability of professional cycling which will hang in balance until either UCI or AIGCP commit themselves to the cause.