UPDATE: The UCI has postponed enforcing this rule in 2013. More details at the bottom of this page.
If you race a cycling event that’s not sanctioned by the UCI, you risk a fine and a month’s suspension of your race licence. This is a rule that’s been in the UCI handbook for a several years, but it seems to have been mostly ignored (or at least, not enforced) by the national cycling organisations of most countries. And besides, it was understood to only apply to trade teams – ie road professionals and not really to mountain bikers. The understandable idea behind the rule is to encourage all cycling events to be organised under the auspices of the national cycling body of that particular country. However, many events are too quirky, left-field or new in concept to necessarily want to be organised under a national body with the rules, commissaires and fees that that implies.
However… and this is where it gets good. The US national body, USA Cycling has recently written to the UCI for clarification of this and received a very surprising definition of this rule.
The letter, written by the beleaguered UCI president Pat McQuaid himself spells things out like this:
Article 1.2.019 applies to all licence holders, without exception. It does not solely concern professional riders or just the members of UCI teams, contrary to certain statements in the press and on some blogs.
It applies to ALL race licence holders…
Special races or events are understood to be cycle events which are not registered on the national calendar of the country’s federation or on the UCI international calendar. This generally concerns events that are occasional and which do not recur, most often organised by persons or entities who do not belong to the world of organised sport. For example, an event may be organised by an association that does not have a link to the National Federation, such as a race specifically for members of the armed forces, fire fighters or students or perhaps as part of a national multisport event.
And if you regularly organise bike events, it applies to you. The exceptions will be rare.
And what’s the penalty? A CHF50 – CHF100 fine (£35-£70) and more importantly, the suspension of your race licence for a month.
There are obviously quirky events like the Singlespeed UK (and World) Champs, the One Speed Cyclocross Champs of the Universe and that kind of thing that this applies to, but what about a local four cross race? That’s covered under the rules. Even though it’s a discipline mostly ignored by the UCI. And what about the new league of enduro events? Unless they’re organised under their national federation, then they’ll get you in trouble. And this applies to ‘cycling events’ and not just races – so sportives and mountain bike challenge events would fall under that.
Events like the Enduro World Series are organised by a non-UCI organisation and so all of those racers entering could stand to lose their licences. That’s not an issue to some riders, but to anyone that relies on team sponsorship (or prize money) and races their national series, they could forfeit all of that.
Giant Bicycles’ Adam Craig, who is both an Olympian mountain biker, international level racer and also a past competitor of the Trans Provence and the 2007 Singlespeed World Champion had this to say on his Facebook page: “Here’s the thing, Pat, .001% of cyclists are actually involved in the Olympic Movement. The rest just want to ride bikes. From someone who’s seen both sides… Consider this my resignation.”
As we mentioned, the rule’s been in the rulebook for years, but it’s only recently that it’s starting to be enforced (in the US). Whether British Cycling or Scottish Cycling choose to enforce it (or in fact if they now haver a choice in the matter) is something we’re still waiting to hear.
Update – UCI postpones:
We’ve just heard that the UCI has bowed to the intense public outcry and won’t be enforcing this rule in 2013. However, they will be meeting with national governing bodies to work out how best to enforce it in 2014. Here’s what it said:
The UCI listened to the feedback from the various groups involved and who feel affected by a strict and immediate enforcement of rule 1.2.019 and its associated sanctions. The UCI has decided to postpone strict enforcement of rule 1.2.019 in 2013 with the expectation that all stakeholders (National Federations, race directors, teams and riders) will discuss and do what is necessary to prepare for the rule’s full enforcement in 2014.
UCI Communication Services