Velon, the 2014 founded group which represents a host of World Tour teams and organises the Hammer Series, has filed an anti-trust Complaint to the European Commission, against the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
The group, which represents 11 teams including Deceuninck-Quick-Step, Team Ineos and Sunweb, alleges that the UCI has implemented regulations which are designed to favour the business interests of the governing body at the detriment of the sport.
Charges include denying Velon’s Hammer Races the status of ‘Series’ – upsetting what the company calls one of the “key, unique features of the race”, as well as taking ownership of rider’s on-bike data and thus interfering with ‘VelonLive’, Velon’s on-bike data collection and sharing business.
In a release signed by CEO Graham Bartlett, Velon stated: “In the past 12 months the UCI has used its regulatory power and political leverage to seek to block the business activities of Velon and the teams in an incorrect and unlawful manner.”
It added: “The UCI feels entitled to use its regulatory powers for its own commercial benefit and to take the rights of the teams and riders without consultation or permission.”
Velon’s goal is to address the current business model of the sport, in which teams invest over €400 million per year, making up 50 per cent of professional cycling’s cashflow.
“It is accepted by almost everyone in the sport, including the UCI, that [the current] model needs to be radically changed in order to make it more stable and to attract new investment,” Velon says.
Detailing the grievances, Velon stated: “In February the UCI ruled that Hammer Races may not be referred to as a Series under UCI regulations. No explanation has ever been given. Velon, and the teams competing at Hammer events, continued to race for the Series – one of the key, unique features of the new races – despite the UCI’s threat that they may refuse to register Hammer Races in the 2020 calendar if we did.”
The Hammer Series was introduced in 2017, in a bid to bring a new season long story to professional cycling, with a focus on Team v Team competition.
The organisers want to build the events to a 10 series collection, but this year there were just three races.
Velon say that the UCI’s opposition to the races being registered as a series had “significantly hampered the development.”
Turning attention to the use of on-board cameras and collection of live data, Velon noted: “Earlier this year the UCI passed new technical regulations without due process or consultation with any of the stakeholders in the sport (even with its own Equipment and Technology Fraud Commission) that sought to give itself and race organisers ownership and control over the teams’ business on live race data.”
Velon alleged that despite continued efforts to engage with the UCI, it had “refused any constructive dialogue”, leaving a formal complaint the only alternative.
It added that its desire was to create a “stable, predictable and fair regulatory environment for the sport”, which would attract new investment and create a better business model in which professional cycling could flourish.
Cycling Weekly has contacted the UCI for comment, and the governing body has yet to issue a formal response. We will update this story as it evolves.