Editor’s Note: Following an uproar from riders, promoters and teams, including Sho-Air/Cannondale Factory Racing team, the UCI announced last Thursday that it will postpone by one year stringent enforcement of its controversial rule 1.2.019, which stipulates that any UCI license holder – professional or amateur — is forbidden from competing in any race not sanctioned by a UCI-affiliated national governing body such as USA Cycling. In a news release, the UCI said it had decided to postpone strict enforcement of rule 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. That meant that the Sho-Air/Cannondale Factory Racing, whose protesting of the rule is chronicled below, was free to compete in the Whiskey Off-Road race. Read more about the UCI’s about face HERE.
In what is likely be the first of many racer-vs-UCI showdowns this season, the Sho-Air/Cannondale Factory Racing Team is set to openly defy cycling’s international governing body when its riders line up at late April’s Whiskey Off-Road mountain bike race in Prescott, Arizona.
The Whiskey Off-Road event, which has a $40,000 prize purse, is not sanctioned through USA Cycling, which means according to a recent decree from the UCI (rule 1.2.019), no UCI license holder may compete there without fear of being fined, suspended or both.
That’s a huge problem for the Sho-Air team, whose Whiskey 50 roster includes current Pro XCT series leader Jeremiah Bishop, 2012 Pro XCT/Pro UET Champion Monique “Pua” Mata, NUE 100 opener winner Alex Grant, and former Master’s world champion Tinker Juarez — all of whom are UCI license holders.
The Sho-Air/Cannondale squad is the first trade team to openly declare public defiance to the UCI rule, which has existed for several years, but came into renewed focus last Friday when the UCI circulated a letter stating that it would begin stringently enforcement.
Sho-Air president and CEO R. Scott Tedro responded this week, issuing a statement that read in part, “We have had hundreds of phone calls, e-mails and Facebook posts regarding this issue by fans, friends and fellow riders stating their discontent and asking for help… And I have spent countless hours trying to negotiate a solution for all parties involved regarding this issue to no avail. The time has come to take a stand and lead by example, as this issue will affect us all, not only the professional rider, but the master and junior amateur rider as well, that just want to race their bikes and have fun.”
“We also are supporting the promoter’s right to choose not to sanction with USA Cycling,” added Tedro. “Freedom of choice is a right that must be protected. We are supporting [Whiskey Off-Road promoter] Todd Sadow and Epic Rides and will attend his event, the Whiskey 50, in full force.”
Tedro went on to say that his organization, “Does not recognize the UCI or USAC’s authority to take away unalienable rights of liberty when it comes to a riders desire to compete against his or her peers whether it be to earn a living as is the case for a professional, or to experience the joys of competing for fun while pursuing a healthy lifestyle as an amateur. We challenge the UCI and USAC to fine our riders for representing their team, sponsors and fans by participating in the Whiskey 50. Any negative action taken towards our team or riders will be met with an immediate and appropriate response.”
Sho-Air Cannondale team director Ty Kady sounded a similar mantra, calling out U.S. cycling’s national governing body for not coming to the defense of its membership, which includes upwards of 3,000 UCI license holders, including many junior and amateur racers who only take out the license in order to compete in a smattering of international events, and earn little or no money for the time and effort.
“This is a perfect opportunity for USAC to support all their licensed members by giving the UCI pushback on a rule that clearly doesn’t work with the US model of mountain biking,” said Kady. “However, they have yet to make a stand against the UCI.”
Kady went on to bash the Federation for offering no overall prize money to either the Pro XCT or Pro UET series champion, “even though they claim them to be the ‘premier’ U.S. mountain bike series. They offer no financial support for promoters, who actually do host a UCI event on their behalf, yet now they want to tell racers when and where and for whom they can race their bikes? That doesn’t sit well with me, especially when it’s obvious they are doing nothing to bolster their own series so riders can try and earn income.”