The UCI’s Rule 1.2.019: Could unsanctioned events be the future of cycling?

John Brady Roar Rookie

By John Brady, John Brady is a Roar Rookie


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    John Brady winning the Tour of Texas (Image supplied)

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    There has been quite a hullabaloo recently with the UCI declaring that they would henceforth be enforcing their long-dormant rule, romantically entitled Rule 1.2.019.

    It declares that any rider with a UCI license cannot race in any event that hasn’t been sanctioned by the UCI.

    I’ve been doing unsanctioned events for years and I have to admit, my motives are spectacularly sinister: I want a convenient way to stay fit.

    Why has the UCI decided to push this rule, when it hasn’t even proposed an anti-doping initiative or apology to the cycling community at large?

    Considering the farcical way they managed cycling over the past 30 years, it’s the least they could do.

    Maybe the UCI didn’t get the memo; but a lot of us cyclists have given up on them, long before they decided to endorse Rule 1.2.019.

    Some sports need a facility, a high level of organisation, or an arena, but cycling needs no such thing. We don’t even need officials to have a race.

    I raced for years as a professional, yet some of the best “races” I’ve ridden were nothing more than training rides. The races were policed by other riders, not UCI officials, and the prizes consisted of nothing more than bragging rights.

    You can go from Sydney to Los Angeles and everywhere in between, and you’ll find a plethora of vibrant racing and training events, organised and prospering, regardless of the existence of the UCI.

    There’s a river ride in Sacramento I did for years, and the battles we had on those roads were as good as some of the pro races I competed in. The ride was safe, intense, fun, and five minutes after the ride ended, no one cared who’d won.

    When the group had all finished, we’d casually pedal into town, friends and enemies, chatting away about the weekend races, or even other random events outside the world of cycling.

    Cycling is on its own evolutionary trajectory, and the term ‘cycling’ means many things to many different people. Every decade a new variant of the sport emerges such as mountain biking did in the 70’s. Even within this discipline, it evolved into events such as downhill, freeriding and enduro.

    More recently hipsters have taken up the mantel of what a cyclist might be, and embraced their own fetishised version of cycling, and its culture.

    The truth is; the UCI is fundamentally at odds with this evolution. They don’t seem to realise that people just want to ride, and that if you allow people top do that then the culture of cycling becomes ever broader and richer.

    Even the bikes are a physical manifestation of ‘open source’, and at odds with the tyrannical rules set out by the UCI on components, materials and geometry.

    At the core of the UCI’s perceived world is competitive professional road cycling, and at the core of this are the primo events such as the World Championships, Olympics, Paris-Roubaix and Tour de France.

    99.99999% of people, who classify themselves as cyclists, will never do these events, and while these events provide a spectacle of human performance and a picture of what the outer reaches of the sport is capable of, the idea that that alone is cycling is out of touch with the “actual” world of cycling.

    This same elitist group that has caused so much disaffection within the sport thinks it can sustain its “business as usual” stance.

    Apparently it hasn’t been listening to the bike loving public.

    What the cycling public needs from the UCI isn’t the implementation of petty and almost unenforceable rule, but a comprehensive plan to tackle systematic doping. That is the real problem in the sport, one that is tearing apart its very fabric.

    There will be less resistance for other organisations and race organisers to come in under the UCI umbrella if it can prove to the cycling public that it has the credibility and structure to manage this current crisis.

    Perhaps it would be easier to convince the cycling public, too, to forgo all the benefits of other cycling events, operated outside the UCI sphere, if this problem was solved.

    The ill timing of the UCI’s attempt to expand and consolidate its power, by instituting the ruling 1.2.019, will, in all likelihood, usher in a new era of cycling: an era where the UCI model, loses its stature, credibility and meaning, if it hasn’t already!

    John Brady pushing for a win

    John Brady was a professional cyclist, racing for the 7-11, Spago, Levi’s Raleigh and Ofoto cycling teams in the mid 80’s to the late 90’s. Competing in events like Etoile de Besegge, Ghent Wevelgem, World Championships, and the Tours of America, Holland, Britain, New Zealand and Belguim. He was a sprinter, winning well over a 100 races in a career spanning 11 years.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • Columnist

      April 18th 2013 @ 12:10pm
      Tim Renowden said | April 18th 2013 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

      Hi John,
      Nice piece. I completely agree with you, this is a stupid, petty, counter-productive rule that really only serves to make the UCI seem paranoid and out of touch. It’s probably aimed at preventing any rival governing bodies from emerging, but they’ve gone and thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

      Imagine if the IAAF told its registered athletes they were not allowed to compete in fun runs. They’d be (rightly) told where to stick it.

    • Roar Guru

      April 18th 2013 @ 12:17pm
      zacbrygel said | April 18th 2013 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

      Hi John, fantastic article. I completely agree the UCI has done enough to ruin it’s reputation already and this new rule doesn’t help. I would love to know, as you are a former professional cyclist and have experienced the professional cycling world first hand, what would be your “plan to tackle systematic doping” as was mentioned in your article. Thanks

    • Columnist

      April 18th 2013 @ 12:21pm
      Kate Smart said | April 18th 2013 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

      John and Tim, I couldn’t agree with you more. The UCI clearly reside in their own bubble: a dangerous position for any organisation to be in.

    • Columnist

      April 18th 2013 @ 12:45pm
      Lee Rodgers said | April 18th 2013 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

      Hey John, thanks for the article! Great first entry, and welcome to The Roar!

      Maybe it’s time for Paris-Roubaix, Flanders and the Tour to very quickly become unsanctioned events? Then let’s see what kind of a flap the UCI gets into!

      • Columnist

        April 18th 2013 @ 1:06pm
        Tim Renowden said | April 18th 2013 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

        I suppose it’s a similar situation to one that happened in cricket a few years ago when the IPL was formed, and there was a rival ICL league. Players who joined the ICL were banned from playing in ‘official’ ICB cricket (although there was later an amnesty, which caused the ICL to collapse). The same thing almost happened in the 1970’s with World Series Cricket.

        • April 18th 2013 @ 5:40pm
          Abdu said | April 18th 2013 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

          Unfortunately there is no chance, the sport itself doesn’t lend itself to much in TV rights and the races are all owned by one group (see my post below).

          Much as Jonathan Vaughters would like to say, there is no chance of a breakaway league. The West Indies and the Aussies and a few Poms and Saffies basically were bought by big Kerry for his WSC. Co-ordinating different teams, cultures, etc. woudl be like herding cats making the concept unachieveable.

          I seem to recall Lance had serious discussions a few years ago to buy ‘some of the action’ of le tour (the ego of the guy must be of planetary dimensions) but was rebuffed.

          Our only hope for change is Tracey Gaudry.

          • Columnist

            April 18th 2013 @ 7:28pm
            Tim Renowden said | April 18th 2013 @ 7:28pm | ! Report

            Ah yeah I wasn’t arguing that a breakaway league is likely to succeed (it didn’t really work in cricket either – World Series Cricket arguably only survived because it got brought back into the official fold). I was more making the point that this is the same sort of control-freak behaviour from the controlling federation.

    • April 18th 2013 @ 5:36pm
      Abdu said | April 18th 2013 @ 5:36pm | ! Report

      Apart from their obvious status behind Congo as a well run organisation, the UCI is not doubt beholden to the real owners of the sport, the Armaury Family. As a private family, they own (through) ASO Le Tour, Paris Roubaix, LBL, etc, etc. Through a 50% share in RCS, they also part own the Giro d’italia and La Vuelta. I am not sure any races they don’t own? At these races, the market is cornered by ‘official’ suppliers, even tour operators, etc. all who feed money back up the chain to the UCI and ASO.

      Is this pandering to them, creating hugely monopolistic behaviour that is elsewhere fought by governments across the world except in Europe it seems?

      Double guessing the UCI’s stupidity is dangerous, like trying to guess what an Essendon fan will argue in defence of James Hird right now. The UCI after all stipulated the maximum sock height of riders, while simultaneously overseeing the continued reign of Lance Armstrong and all the cover ups in between.

      Does this ruling go into Cyclocross, which is much more relevant to the Euro’s and much more prevalent to the pro’s?

      • Columnist

        April 18th 2013 @ 10:51pm
        Sean Lee said | April 18th 2013 @ 10:51pm | ! Report

        Arghhh. You had to mention James Hird didn’t you Abdu!

        Great article and have enjoyed reading the comments that have followed.

    • Columnist

      April 18th 2013 @ 6:18pm
      Lee Rodgers said | April 18th 2013 @ 6:18pm | ! Report

      ‘Apart from their obvious status behind Congo as a well run organisation…’ – oh that brought a tear to my eye. Please write an article Abdu, once you’ve finished your sprint/crash training 😉

      Yes, it covers it all, MTB, road and ‘Cross, and is causing a big old stink in the USA where many MTB events are ‘unsanctioned’ – ie perfectly well run and insured and all the rest, and enjoyed, but not under the UCI umbrella, which, as you might guess, is plenty full of holes.

      Speaking of holes – socks. (yes mine are usually ‘air-conditioned’ somewhere). Do they have a sock ruler? Is it a percentage of a rider’s height, or in proportion to his feet? They are literally quite barmy, to think anyone gives a hoot. There’s LA and George shooting up in a tent by the finishing line (no, really, they did) and outside the UCI like Benny Hill in fast-forward are running around pestering some guy about his socks.

      You couldn’t script it…

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