Following on from its anti-trust complaint, made in September, to the European Commission against the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), Velon has made further claims against the UCI – cycling’s international governing body.
Velon is a joint venture that is partly owned by a number of UCI WorldTour pro cycling teams. It also owns and operates the Hammer Series of pro cycling races. Velon’s original complaint in September alleged that UCI rules were ‘designed to favour the UCI’s business interests to the detriment of pro cycling teams.’ A second complaint now alleges discrimination against women’s cycling.
Velon notes that, in June 2019, Tour des Fjords AS (the race organiser for Hammer Stavanger), through the Norwegian Cycling Federation, applied to the UCI for a women’s Hammer race to form part of Hammer Stavanger from 2020 onwards.
A release from Velon noted that ‘The race offer was for full equality with the men’s race on format, parcour, duration, TV broadcasting and prize-money. In early October 2019, Tour des Fjords AS announced this exciting development, which was well received by teams and riders, particularly as the event would offer a great opportunity to showcase women’s cycling with free worldwide live coverage of all three days of racing, start to finish as with all Hammer races.
‘Tour des Fjords AS, the Norwegian Cycling Federation (NCF), the Hammer Series and Velon, all strongly believed that this would be an important new event to advance equality for women cycling – a belief that was shared by the teams and riders.’
The Norwegian Cycling Federation confirmed to Tour des Fjords AS in early October 2019 that the UCI Road Department had included the women’s Hammer Stavanger race in the draft 2020 Road Calendar submitted to the UCI Management Committee for approval.
However, the UCI informed the Norwegian Cycling Federation on 18 October 2019, a week after the formal publication of the calendar, that the UCI Management Committee had refused the application, stating that a women’s Hammer race ‘was not in the best interest of women’s cycling’. This followed the UCI’s refusal to support Hammer Colombia, announced on 14 June 2019, an event that would also have offered a women’s race which was fully equal to the men’s.
Roy Hegreberg, Event Director of Tour des Fjords AS said “We have had the ambition of organising a women’s race since we started in 2013. We believe international women’s cycling needs events that will give them stronger visibility to develop. This is what we offer with Hammer Stavanger: equality for women and men in terms of promotion, visibility, prize money and sporting aspects. We can’t see any reason why the UCI doesn’t want to approve this race.”
Eystein Stokstad, General Secretary of the Norwegian Cycling Federation added “NCF is a proud supporter of women’s cycling. We value equality in sport, including support for elite-level events because we know that such events are crucial to the development of women’s cycling. It would be very disappointing if the Hammer Stavanger women’s race was not approved by the UCI. NCF supports the vision of Tour des Fjords AS.”
Having already filed an anti-trust complaint against the UCI with the European Commission – Velon has now added an ‘Addendum to the Complaint’… ‘on the grounds of the UCI’s discrimination against women’s cycling’.
The European Commission has been asked to adopt interim measures in accordance with Article 8 of the Council Regulation 1/2003/EC, requiring the UCI to amend its 2020 calendar and allow a women’s race to be staged on 22-24 May 2020 as part of Hammer Stavanger.
Velon notes that ‘The Hammer Series concept, format and business model offer a unique opportunity to establish a truly world class cycling series for women, promoting full equality between men’s and women’s racing, based on a proven successful, innovative and exciting racing format. This is made possible due to the carefully designed structure and format of the events, focusing on competition between teams, racing over shorter distances, involving circuits and of a shorter duration, making it possible to offer the same racing opportunity and exposure for men’s and women’s races each day.’
Velon seeks a ‘stable, predictable and fair regulatory environment for the sport that treats the teams, riders and race organisers in equal manner – something the UCI is refusing to provide and has illustrated again with its actions to deny another Hammer race.’
Velon is owned by 11 WorldTour teams:
- CCC Team
- Deceuninck Quick-Step
- EF Education First
- Lotto Soudal
- Team INEOS
- Team Jumbo-Visma
- Team Sunweb
- UAE Team Emirates
The company adds that its Hammer Series offers up ‘an exciting and innovative set of races where only a team – not an individual rider – can win.’ Velon adds that Hammer events are ‘staged in locations steeped in cycling heritage and with stunning backdrops.’