The UCI, with their infinite wisdom, have released their 2013 WorldTour calender, with the usual issues. The two new, pointless and unpopular Chinese races end the season, the Tour of Lombardy, sorry, ‘Il Lombardia’ is the first week of October, and most of all, the whole daft system still exists. So as you do, I had a bit of a daydream regarding how I’d like to shape the sport. This is what I came up with.
1. No more WorldTour.
It’s no secret that the WorldTour, the bastard child of the ProTour, causes more problems then it solves. Yes, it ensures that the ‘best’ teams ride all the top races, but the ‘best’ teams dont always want to ride the top races – what did old Bouygues Telecom have to gain from riding the Giro or Vuelta for instance? More pressingly, it creates an awful transfer system, where WorldTour points ensure that riders can be thrown off a team, like Amets Txurruka has been at Euskatel, for a lack of points due to his domestique role, as well as creating feuds with teams and riders that result in the riders not being allowed to ride as the point will go elsewhere. It alo ensures that the richest teams can simply hoard talent whilst other teams struggle to hold onto developed riders. In essence, the system increases the gulf between the ProTeam and ProContinental teams, which isn’t good for competition, or the public, who don’t get to see the ‘niche’ teams who can so invigorate a race.
2. Bye Bye Jonathan.
Of course, as President, I could throw people out of cycling, because I have the power to do whatever I want. So I would exercise this by instantly removing hypocrite in chief Jonathan Vaughters from cycling. Why? Here is a man who created a team based on clean cycling, and built relationships with various sponsors as they progressed from Grand Tour invites to leaders jerseys to stage wins to overall victories. He continued to avoid the questions surrounding his own doping history, and kept supporting his merry band of Millar, VandeVelde, Danielson, Zabriske and Dekker as they progressed to winning the Giro with (clean) Hesjedal and gaining Sharp as a sponsor. All of a sudden, VAughters suddenly breaks his own silence and admits doping, then casually discusses that his American contingent of the names above had all doped in the past as if it was nothing to be bothered about. Er, Earth to Jonathan, you’re meant to be promoting clean sport, yet the lesson Garmin seem keen to give out is that it’s fine to dope, JV will give you another shot. More over, he’s one of the architects of the awful WorldTour system (and had the cheek to prevent Hushovd and Vanmarke riding because of it) and disbanded his women’s team whilst hiring Thomas Dekker. And to cap it off, he makes riders wear Argyle. Banned!
3. Women’s Parity
I’m as guilty as anyone on this, but women’s racing must be given the same attention and funding (including an increase in the minimum salary) as men. The top ProTeams have ridiculous budgets, and given half of them are nationalised, why not force them into running a women’s team? I’ve always wondered why Sky dont – they could have a women team-specific jersey, and sell that and get more women into cycling and knowledgeable about their brand in the process. For whatever reason, the team’s arent interested, so I’d force them to be!
4. Return of the World Cup
We’ve got rid of the WorldTour, because a competition to find the world’s best rider is arbitrary and pointless given the variety, but we can bring back the World Cup, otherwise known as the one-day classics cup. It will be the only official ranking, and will include the following races: Milan-San Remo, Het Niewsblad, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallone, Liege-Bastonge-Liege, San Sebastian, Paris-Brussels, Paris-Tours and The Tour of Lombardy. I will admit I’m bringing it back purely to see the jersey again mind – it’s a nostalgia exercise for a time where we didn’t care about rankings or ratings and just enjoyed the sport for the love of it.
5. Calender Changes
Yes, it’s goodbye to the the Chinese races that only the UCI wanted, as they are obliterated from our memory forever. The Tour of Lombardy also moves back to the end of October, as it’s the race of the falling leaves, not some Indian summer parade. We might even consider moving the World’s to after the Tour de France, but this would affect San Sebastian, and it seems to work nicely where it is anyway.
6. TV update
For major races, teams will be forced to accept having camera in their team cars, as well as microphones, so that the viewer can learn about the race tactics etc. This borrows from the fabulous Tour of Flanders 2011 coverage, which added greater depth (and also made Vaughters look like a fool when he ordered his team to give up and sprint for third, only for the race to come back together – as you’ve noted from 2, he’s not my favourite person), and should be repeated to help draw in viewers. Tiny cameras in the bikes is also a way forward, as well as more data from GPS devices – the public should be able to see a wealth of information on the stars, such as the current speed and gradient, which oddly was in the Vuelta to great effect, but not the Tour or Giro.
7. More open technical regulation.
The UCI has been putting a limit on technological innovation for some time, which is a real shame. Most of this has been through pointless rules such as that equipment has to be available to the public at a reasonable price, which was to stop custom bikes and putting sandpaper on TT saddles, the daft rule forbidding tilt of more then a degree in saddles and worst of all, limiting the length of overshoes. The Hour record is the only thing the technology should be limited on – otherwise, providing they stay within the double diamond structure, manufacturers should be able to innovate as they please.
8. On the phone to FIFA and LTA
*ringing* ‘Hello? Remember that nasty operacion puerto business? I’m going to keep reminding everyone that you just ignored it and let dopers go scot free until you investigate properly and openly.’