UCI hints it may step in to help save cash-strapped Spanish races

Governing body monitoring situation as Tour of Catalonia joins Basque Country and San Sebastian on at-risk list

by Simon_MacMichael   February 29, 2012  

UCI logo on white

The UCI has said that it is monitoring the situation regarding three of Spain’s four WorldTour races – the Tour of Catalonia, the Tour of the Basque Country, and the Clasica Ciclista de San Sebastian – hinting that it may seek to provide financial assistance to cash-strapped organisers to help ensure the immediate future of the events.

In recent days, organisers of the two Basque races have said that they will have to cancel this year’s editions if they do not find an additional €150,000 by next Monday, although that self-imposed deadline has now been extended by a week. From the UCI’s statement, it appears that the Catalan stage race, due to start in less than three weeks’ time, is also at risk.

Yesterday evening, a campaign named ‘Kuntaz 1 euro’ was launched, requesting fans to contribute a euro apiece to help ensure the continuity of the Basque races. Joaquin Rodriguez, among others, highlighted the issue to his fans on Facebook.

According to a Facebook page set up by the campaign, that amount needs to be paid directly into a Spanish bank account that has been set up for the fund, in effect making it impossible – or, at least, prohibitively expensive – for those outside Spain to provide assistance.

In a statement released today, the UCI said it was “conscious of the fundamental importance of saving cycling’s heritage,” and that it was acting “to evaluate these cases and study possible measures that could be taken.”

The statement continued: “To ensure the best possible support for the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, the UCI has already established the necessary contact with all the parties implicated on an institutional level. At this stage discussions are focussed UCI’s possible participation   in a sustainable development plan for this event over the coming years, the terms of which are yet to be defined.

“Concerning the two Basque races, UCI is also in the process of collecting all the information necessary in order to come up with an intervention strategy that can deal with the urgency of the situation and at the same time the principals of solidarity that govern the UCI WorldTour.”

The UCI added that last year, it made a contribution from the UCI WorldTour Reserve Fund to benefit the French WorldTour one-day race, the GP Ouest France de Plouay, held, like the San Sebastian event, in August.

That reference suggests that it may be disposed to take similar action, if required, to help secure the survival, for this season at least, of the three Spanish races.

UCI President Mr Pat McQuaid commented: “In this very difficult economic context facing the organisers, the cycling world expects the structures put in place by the UCI to be capable of providing a concrete contribution to the movement as a whole. I can guarantee that we are working all-out, and that despite the fact that the resources at our disposal are fairly limited, we will do all we can to offer our support to the organisers.

“Although it is true that the globalisation of cycling is our strategic priority,” he continued, “the roots and traditions of this fantastic sport are what make it so rich and we must be capable of preserving them.

“Among its other prerogatives, the UCI also deals with these very important aspects that are linked to the stability and economic reinforcement of the professional sector,” the UCI President concluded. “I therefore hope that the UCI will once again be able to contribute to finding a solution.”