The twitterati has been going nuts with the ‘Will they or Won’t they be allowed to race at Gila’ – and by they I mean Astana’s trio of Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner. Finally today, we learned that yes, the trio will be allowed to race at the Tour of the Gila starting tomorrow but will be wearing Mellow Johnny kits.
For some for-now unknown reason, the rarely-enforced UCI rule 2.8.003 which limits which races a UCI ProTeam rider can participate in was suddenly enforced. This rule, which was last updated in January 2007, states:
2.8.003 An individual race may be registered only on a national calendar and on the following conditions:
1. riders enter on an individual basis;
2. riders of a UCI ProTeam can take part a maximum of 3 times a year in an individual race;
3 a maximum of 3 riders of the same team registered with the UCI can take part in an individual
4. the minimum prize money shall be 8000 Swiss francs;
5. the maximum distance shall be 170 km for men and 120 km for women;
6. if the race is ridden on a circuit, that circuit shall be at least 10 km long;
7. technical support shall be provided by neutral cars;
8. team vehicles shall not be admitted to the race.
Say what? Basically, a ProTour or Pro Continental team cannot field a full squad at a national race, a race that is not on the UCI calendar – only 3 riders from said team can participate. Why this rule was suddenly brought out is a question without an answer. Did a team that could not get into the race file an official complaint with the UCI?
Bad news. This ruling also impacts the BMC Team which had brought a full squad of 8 riders to the race. This means, that today 5 riders, Tony Cruz, Jonathan Garcia, Martin Kohler, Jackson Stewart and Taylor Tolleson are going home. The remaining 3 riders, Scott Nydam, Florian Stalder and Chad Beyer will race but not in team kits.
But what does this mean for the rest of the year? Will this rule continue to be enforced?
The BMC Team has other NRC events on their calendar this year including Fitchburg Longsjo Classic, Cascade Classic and of course, the Tour of Utah won by Jeff Louder last year (thanks CD).
As the only Pro Continental team registered in the US, the BMC team offers an opportunity to many riders the step needed to move to the ProTour level and at the same time, increase the level at the American races.
It would be detrimental to the sport of cycling in the US if the BMC team which often fields a majority of American riders at these races, is not allowed to bring a full squad. Bad idea all around. So what is USA Cycling going to do about this?