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“We want the best teams from each year to have access to the best races in the coming season. And since this system does not exist in the WorldTour we have to change things and make it more open."

Photo: Sirotti






23.12.2015 @ 12:34 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Javier Guillen, race director of the Vuelta a Espana, has confirmed to BiciCiclismo that Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), owner of the Tour de France, and Vuelta organizers Unipublic which is partly owned by ASO, will advocate for an open system that will have sporting criteria as the basis for selections of teams and the that will allow "the best to do the best races," as opposed to the "closed system" presented by the International Cycling Union (UCI). "The reform is not convincing at all," he says and defends the withdrawal from the WorldTour in 2017.


“Everything must be placed in a context,” he tells the Spanish website. “The reform approved by the UCI establishes a closed system of competition, 18 teams with licenses for three years, and expands the number of racing days in the WorldTour. We disagree with this reform and opt for a philosophy of anopen competition system which means that access to races is determined by sporting criteria. By dropping down to Hors Categorie we can better control the open system.”


Many were surprised by the move as the organizers remained silent at the recent seminar in Barcelona.

”It's just that there was nothing to discuss,” Guillen says. “We were told 'this is the reform which has been approved." It was not a debate and there was no voting. No. There was no such possibility.”


The war in cycling now seems pretty clear: ASO and Unipublic are up against the UCI which has the backing of the teams.

”With a hint, the riders have also shown their dissatisfaction with the reform,” Guillen says. “I do not know if one can speak of blocks, but there are stakeholders who are in favor and some who are against. The association of race organizers, AIOCC, does not want this reform and a majority rejected it at the General Assembly in Hamburg. We do not like it. The riders don’t want this reform if there is no consensus. On the other hand, it is true that the UCI, Velon and many of the teams support it more or less.”


The main question is whether the parties can reach an agreement.


”It is always good to discuss things,” Guillen says. “There are big differences in opinion about a reform that does not convince everyone. We have to lay the foundations for a system that is convenient for everyone. It cannot be that most organizers are against it. We need to reach common points. It is absolutely necessary.”


One of the key issues has been the length of the grand tours. Some of the teams have asked for the Giro and the Vuelta to be reduced to two weeks but Guillen has strongly opposed the idea.

“It is a debate that is on the table but now there are other priorities,” Guillen says. “But we need a comprehensive review of the calendar and not only to look at some races. What we can’t do is to expand the current number of race days from 120 to 180 when 120 already seem to be too much. And I have to say that we can’t touch the monuments and I am referring to the Giro, the Vuelta and the Tour.”


Furthermore, the organizers have called for a reduction of the number of riders per team in the grand tours.


”That's true, I can confirm that,” Guillen says. “It is a proposal of the organizers and a request from the AIOCC that we have given to the UCI: to reduce the number from from nine to eight riders in the grand tours and from eight to seven in the others. Basically, it is because of security and to prevent crashes. We have had a particularly bad year in that area and Unipublic and the Tour in particular have suffered from this problem. Now it's time to make proposals. This is one of them and there should be more.”


Guillen summarizes his stance in this wat.


“We want the best teams from each year to have access to the best races in the coming season. And since this system does not exist in the WorldTour we have to change things and make it more open. And on the other hand, this conflict is not new. We have fought against a closed system for years. And that requires us to be consistent now and defend the principles we have always advocated for.”



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