OPEN LETTER TO THE UCIGepubliceerd door BEAT Cycling Club op
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Date: June 24, 2019
Dear Mr. Lappartient, Mr. Peruzzi and Management Committee members:
We have taken notice of your press release of June 20, 2019, regarding the new measures to further develop track cycling. Measures that directly affect us, and other UCI track teams, as it seems the intention is to create a nations-only competition. The current UCI track teams will effectively be banned from the sport’s biggest stage.
We believe that the measures as announced in your press release are not in the best interests of further developing track cycling. Moreover, we believe they will shrink the sport, not expand it. In this open letter we therefore wish to express our concerns.
These new measures have taken us by surprise, and we want to state our disappointment at not being involved in their development. This seems to contradict the aim of the UCI to create collaboration and dialogue among all members of professional cycling, as stated in the UCI Agenda 2022.1 If we had been involved, we would have contributed with a commitment to developing track cycling as a whole.
We consider ourselves to be one of the important stakeholders in professional track cycling. Since 2016 we have been working on developing BEAT Cycling Club, an initiative that seeks to address some of the flaws of the current business model of cycling. Creating a closer connection to the fans of the sport is a much-discussed desire in the world of cycling but still an unfulfilled promise. By developing BEAT Cycling Club in a club structure we are working on fulfilling this promise.
In 2017 we decided to launch a professional UCI track team at the highest level. We signed riders and hired staff for this. We brought new money into track cycling by attracting partners that would otherwise not have stepped into track cycling. We brought new supporters to the sport via our club structure. We have been innovative. We are committed to further developing the sport. We have been successful with our team in many World Cup races, and we are working hard to support our riders in their ambition to become world champions and Olympians.
In all of this we have a constructive and collaborative relationship with the national federations of the Netherlands and Belgium, which have told us on several occasions that they support our UCI track team.
Our concerns with the new measures are threefold:
1) Track cycling will become an amateur sport again
In no other sport do we see a move away from commercial teams as we see proposed here. We believe this will take track cycling back to the times in which most sports were practiced at the amateur level. As we see across the world of sports, professional teams are able to attract money that can be used to advance the sport.
2) Track cycling will become less visible
The measures propose a reduction in the number of World Cups from six to three and a not-yet defined winter program for national teams. How this will contribute to the further development of track cycling is a mystery to us. And the move to the summer period is equally baffling. This is the peak of the road cycling season, with the biggest races of the cycling calendar. Track cycling would have to fight for attention, and we believe it would lose this fight. All in all, we believe the measures will result in dramatically downgraded visibility and economic attractiveness for track cycling.
3) There will be fewer opportunities for athletes
The measures announced will affect both riders and staff. Job losses cannot be avoided. Riders will be immediately affected, and their ability to participate in their sport will be threatened. In the Netherlands, for example, there will not be enough places in the national selection for all the Dutch riders.
We have in good faith invested in the sport based on existing UCI regulations. At no point in time have we been informed that professional track teams might be banned. Going forward with these new measures would destroy all our efforts. We will further investigate the legal base for these measures and are of the opinion that effectively canceling our team can under no circumstances be done without proper compensation for our damages. To be clear: we do not seek this compensation; we want to be able to continue to operate our UCI track team as we do today.
In the best interests of the sport and UCI track teams like BEAT Cycling Club, we ask you to reconsider your plans and design a strategy that truly develops track cycling. We would like to be recognized in this process as a key stakeholder and are available to contribute to a new approach.
We are available for further discussions.
Geert Broekhuizen, Managing Director
Edwin Gulickx, Managing Director
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