New-look track cycling calendar has potential to be destructive – Stephen Park
British Cycling performance director Stephen Park has warned the UCI’s radical new-look track cycling calendar has the potential to be “massively destructive” if not introduced properly.
The world governing body on Sunday confirmed details of the plans, which will see the World Championships move from February to October; the World Cup replaced by a shorter Nations Cup during the summer; and a new made-for-TV Track League, developed alongside Eurosport, introduced in the winter.
It is understood that at meetings around the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Berlin last week, national federations raised a number of concerns but got few answers from the world governing body about plans which will start next year.
“There are a huge number of questions unanswered,” Park told the PA media agency. “The overall principles are all fine, but how they might do it could mean the whole thing is chaos and be massively destructive to track cycling.
“The devil is in the detail.”
The new Track League is designed to pit the sports main stars against each other in short races, but federations want answers over how the Nations Cup will feed into Olympic qualification, with the cycle for Paris 2024 effectively shortened by one year by the changes.
The UCI said on Sunday the Olympic qualification process has not yet been finalised, but Cycling Australia’s performance director Simon Jones believes the battle for places is effectively underway already.
“It started this week,” he told PA. “I don’t think (the UCI) realise with some of the new tweaks. But the next World Championships will be based on this year and it all knocks on because you have to qualify to qualify to qualify.
“From the meeting on Wednesday it was pretty obvious Olympic selection for Paris started this week – unofficially.”
UCI president David Lappartient – who made the reforms part of his campaign platform when elected in 2017 – has presented the Nations Cup as ’empowering federations’, but Jones dismissed that idea.
“He’s a politician, it all sounds good,” Jones added. “We’re not empowered at all. We’re doing what the UCI wants us to do.
“We’re significant financial stakeholders. I don’t think (the consultation process) is good enough quite frankly, and I’ve told the UCI that as well. We all got together as nations to talk about it. We’re not very happy.”
Park said British Cycling had made its own views known through correspondence with the UCI.
Asked if he was happy with the level of consultation, Park said: “Ultimately no, because they haven’t done any.
“We had two meetings where they shared details similar to those announced and there’s nothing more than that. We’ve had no real conversation about Olympic qualifying or how the league would work.”
In a press conference on Sunday, Lappartient defended the UCI’s processes.
“When you have some changes there is always a fear of what you will lose, but you don’t know exactly what you will win,” Lappartient said.
“We believe this new system is part of a global strategy and the qualification for the Olympic Games is more of a consequence, but we didn’t want to build our system just for the Olympic Games.
“This is to have track cycling stand on its own. This is why we launched this reform.”