11 changes to the rules of pro cycling that you need to know before the 2018 season

The UCI has been busy updating its rules and regulations

The UCI has been busy updating its rules and regulations, with new rules on everything from flamme rouge inflatables to level crossings and sticky bottles.

UCI confirms teams registering for 2018 WorldTour

No changes to roster of 18 teams registering for the 2018 WorldTour, but there are some changes to the list of second-tier Professional Continental squads

Peloton on stage two of the 2017 Tour de France. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

No changes to roster of 18 teams registering for the 2018 WorldTour, but there are some changes to the list of second-tier Professional Continental squads

McQuaid: Cookson was warned to stop delegating responsibilities

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Brian Cookson, who suffered a landslide loss in his reelection bid for UCI president two weeks ago, was warned to stop relinquishing his powers.

Insiders say the management committee members and all three UCI vice presidents met with Cookson two years ago and told him to distance himself from director general Martin Gibbs and strategic advisor Justin Abbott and to take more responsibility himself.

“He was told several times by management committee members that they were not happy with that situation and that he needed to change it, and to take more of the responsibility himself, but he refused to do that and that’s where it went wrong,” former UCI president Pat McQuaid, who served from 2005 to 2013, told VeloNews.

“He had five confederation presidents on his management committee for the last four years and they all had a big influence on the vote. They had warned him to get more involved in the presidency. He didn’t do that.”

The Irishman McQuaid remains one of Cookson’s political rivals, especially after losing his re-election bid to the Englishman in 2013. However, he maintains relationships with many international federation presidents and committee members.

Cookson lost the vote, held during the world championship week in Bergen, Norway, 37-8 to Frenchman David Lappartient. Only one other UCI president had such a short stay in the 100-plus year history of cycling’s governing body.

“He needed to take the decisions going forward, and not the director general,” said Italian Cycling Federation president Renato Di Rocco, one of the UCI’s vice presidents. “We tried many times to convince him to change his ways but he always refused. He had two years to put things right but he didn’t want to do it or couldn’t do it. I don’t know the reason.”

Lappartient, 44, presided over the French Cycling Federation and the European Cycling Union before taking over the UCI. He is said to have secured votes from around the world except for two from Asia, one or two from the Americas, and the Oceania vote.

“David has a personality,” McQuaid continued. “He’s outgoing and he’s able to think and talk on his feet. Brian was never like that because he had to have everything prepared for him by a communications company. He’s an introvert, basically.”

Added Di Rocco: “Brian’s a serious person but he made a mistake in selecting his staff. David communicates much more. He’s always available to listen and that’s something that Brian pretended to do.

“For sure [Lappartient] will give more weight to the sporting aspects, Brian excessively focused on the business. For instance, the worlds in Doha gave more money to cycling but worsened the image of cycling.

“He continued to insist that the Tour of Turkey has its own exclusive dates and not overlap with Lombardia. That’s something that even the Giro d’Italia doesn’t have with the Tour of California. Or Paris-Nice. It’s unbelievable.”

The UCI will work on reforming the WorldTour calendar back to something more recognizable. The new races and separate points calculations, which began in 2017, confuse many followers. The 2018 season is supposed to be a year of changes, which could be rolled out by 2019.

During his four-year term, Cookson introduced tougher rules on therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) and an independent anti-doping body, and he also pushed to improve women’s racing. An undercurrent, however, led to him being out-maneuvered in his reelection bid.

As per the rules, Cookson left office immediately before the final world championship races. He and Gibbs responded to the criticism, but Abbott failed to respond before publication of this article.

“I intentionally set out to have a clear structural delineation of roles and responsibilities between myself and my director general,” Cookson said. “My style has always been about consensus and I have made no secret of that — it is what made my tenure at British Cycling so successful and what helped to get me elected.

“I assembled an extremely strong and capable team, including Martin Gibbs and Justin Abbott, who worked with me to rebuild and deliver real positive change.”

Gibbs added: “Brian promised to transform the UCI, which at that time was in crisis. He did just that and it was hard work. I am proud to have worked for him to deliver on his vision.”

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Former Highroad manager Stapleton calls for dialogue on budget caps

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Bob Stapleton, the former general manager of HTC-Highroad and the newly elected member of the UCI’s management committee, says budget caps are needed to “level the playing field” in the WorldTour.

Budgets vary widely between the top teams and the lower ranked teams, from $32.6 million a year for team Sky with Chris Froome to $16 million for Cannondale-Drapac, and much less for others.

“The haves and haves not have grown even further,” Stapleton told VeloNews when asked if team stability has changed since his team folded after failing to find a replacement sponsor for 2012.

“You have a small group of wealth and teams who are dominating the sport and turnover in the mid- to lower-level teams that don’t have the money.

“I do think we need to level the playing field in terms of what it takes to be a competitive team. Even Alberto Contador said that budget caps and salary caps could make sense.”

Stapleton continues to chair USA Cycling’s board but will travel to Europe more now that he is part of the UCI’s management committee and Professional Cycling Council (PCC).

He said new UCI president David Lappartient, who defeated Cookson in a landslide victory last Thursday, is eager to work on improving cycling.

Stapleton would want to meet with the teams and hear their thoughts about license terms and division of rights among the stakeholders.

“These are all things that should come on the table in the coming year or two,” he said. “That is an inherently good thing.”

Tour de France champion and recent Vuelta a España winner Froome recently likened budget caps to communism. He said, “So everyone is going to be the same? We should all ride the same bikes. We should all have the same equipment sponsors. We should eat the same rice and porridge each morning. Where do you draw the line?”

Stapleton pushed back on the comments.

“I have to laugh at that a bit,” Stapleton said. “That just presumes that money means innovation. It is absolutely the core of capitalism, that there are always better ways of doing things and always ways to make money go further. Maybe some economic lessons are in order for Chris Froome. I have significant respect for Chris Froome, but I don’t think that’s how communism works!

“I don’t want to get in front of teams, I want to engage with them and try to find out what matters most to them. And with the event organizers. I just feel like the discussion has not been productive for many years and now the discussion can happen.”

Budget caps or not, Stapleton is eager to bring stability to a sport that nearly saw team Cannondale fold when it was unable to find a sponsor for 2018. At the last minute, EF Education First signed on to become the team’s big backer.

Patrick Lefevere, who runs one of the most successful teams in Quick-Step Floors, tried hard to find a new mega sponsor similar to Sky and Emirates to lessen the burden on his backers, but he came up empty-handed this time around.

The situation was similar for Highroad at the end of 2011, when Stapleton was forced to fold both the men’s and women’s teams. The men’s team was the most successful of 2011, winning 56 times with Mark Cavendish and other stars.

“I have a couple of actions. I’d like to see the stability improve for both women’s and men’s racing,” he added. “I have been a passionate supporter of women’s cycling over the years and I hope to find ways to engage and develop women’s cycling. Take what has worked for the men and avoid what hasn’t worked. It looks strong right now, but it also has stability issues.

“I think Lappartient is the person to get that dialogue happening. This is a unified victory because I don’t think I’ve seen such enthusiastic people coming together in such a long time.

“There’s been small arguments over how many teams and who does what, just moving the chairs around, but I feel like this is a chance to engage a little bit more effectively. That is part of what Lappartient is bringing to the table.”

The post Former Highroad manager Stapleton calls for dialogue on budget caps appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Riders to face bans for holding on to team cars and going through level crossings from 2018

Harsher penalties introduced as part of regulations shake-up

Cyclists re-start after a closed level-crossing in the 2015 Paris-Roubaix

Riders will face bans for holding on to team cars and riding through closed level crossings from 2018, as harsher penalties are introduced for next season.