I am posting parts of a mailing that I just received from Deirdre Moynihan of the Tyler Hamilton Foundation. This posting is NOT about Tyler or his situation, so let’s not start up that debate here. This is about the UCI and USAC prohibiting licensed Pro Cyclists from riding in unsanctioned charity events. I was stunned to read this. It impacts so many fundraisers around the country where Pro team member rides with the public to raise funds for vital and worthy causes.
This means that someone like George Hincapie cannot ride in any of the LiveStrong Rides across the country, or join in with the top-fundraisers at the select Ride for the Roses this year. Think of how many riders have shown up at charity events in 2005 - events to raise funds for cancer, breast cancer, MS, diabetes, junior development, velodrome - you name 'em - there are dozens and dozens of fundraising events involving pro cyclists.
I was at a fundraiser this last Fall for the Team Swift Junior Development Team in Santa Rosa - both Chris Horner and Freddie Rodriguez showed up and rode with the kids and supporters. George Hincapie rode with the Ride for the Roses cyclists last October. Levi Leipheimer rode in a public ride with a bunch of kids at the Cougar Mountain Classic last year... If Lance was still on Discovery Team, he couldn’t ride in his own LAF rides!
Enforcing Rule 1.2.019 for charity rides and rides that promote cycling in any way just seems unbelievable to me. It is totally counter-productive for promoting cycling in the US. And, yes, the rule says that a National Federation may grant special exemptions - but that adds a whole layer of bureaucratic paperwork for a small organization, and presents problems with early scheduling for the pro rider, and with advance publicity for the charity.
If you want to express your opinions, the contact info for both the UCI and USAC is in the following press release.
Boulder, Colorado March 15, 2006 In November 2005, the Tyler Hamilton Foundation joined forces with Denver Boulder Couriers events to help promote cycling in Colorado. By supporting DBC events, the THF is able to promote the sport of cycling across all levels of ability. The first event is the long standing preseason Boulder Tradition, Criteriums @ Stazio series which began March 5 and is scheduled to continue each weekend through May. A portion of the proceeds from the Criteriums @ Stazio and three additional road races in April will help the THF support the mission to empower people through cycling.
Given the time of year, and in an effort to be as inclusive as possible, the organizers of these events decided back in November that each of the races would be unsanctioned. This would allow those who were not yet strong enough to be part of an organized team, or able to afford a racing license to be invited to come and participate in scheduled events that included all levels of racing from young children up to seasoned professionals. In addition, Criteriums@Stazio series will be taken over in 2007 by the city of Boulder, so it was appropriate to lay the groundwork.
On March 5, 2006, Tyler Hamilton pulled on his THF kit, got on his Parlee Z3c, and joined in the event by participating in the final criterium of the day. He was joined by other professional cyclists from Boulder happy to support a good cause and participate in a great training series before the racing season begins. Together they inspired the young juniors who waited to see them ride and encouraged future participation by both spectators and beginner cyclists. The day was a complete success, as THF and DBC were able to accomplish their goal of spreading enthusiasm for the sport.
Unfortunately, THF and DBC have not been able to build on the momentum from March 5th. This wonderful charity series has become somewhat controversial in the days since. Media reports promoting the success of the event prompted the international governing body for cycling, the UCI, to contact the event organizers and inform them that they would enforce the following rule that prohibits UCI licensed professionals from participating in the event:
Rule 1.2.019 :
No License holder may participate in an event that has not been included on a national, continental, or world calendar or that has not been recognized by a national federation, a continental confederation or the UCI. A national federation may grant special exceptions for races or particular events run in its own country.
Historically, the UCI has not flagged participation in charity events nor has the USAC enforced any penalties on UCI licensed holders for their participation in unsanctioned charity events. To do so, would impact the livelihood of the cyclists and the event promoters, as well as the good work of many charities across the country. It would also impact cycling on a local level across the country, if professional cyclists risked being suspended for up to one month and fined 100 Swiss Francs for supporting a charity or local ride.
Despite his belief that he has been wrongly banned, Tyler Hamilton has been respectful of the process throughout his recent ordeal. His participation in the Criteriums@Stazio and the upcoming road races in April are in support of the Tyler Hamilton Foundation’s mission to promote cycling. It is unjust and unfair that any cyclist be penalized for participating along with him and in these events.
This recent development affects all cyclists, and stands to jeopardize a long standing tradition of fund raising through cycling. Do not let local events that make difference in the lives of so many, young and old throughout our country be threatened. Do not stand by while cyclists who've done no wrong are threatened with suspensions. Let your voice be heard. Here is how you can help:
· Send a letter to the USAC advocating for all unsanctioned charity events throughout the country. Let them know you support the efforts of the professional cyclists that participate. Let them know you believe in promoting cycling in the USA and need their help to do so. One the major activities of USA Cycling ensure the ongoing development and safe participation in the sport of cycling. They have not accomplished that goal through this recent action and they need to hear from their constituents.
Gerard Bisceglia, USAC Chief Executive Officer Email: email@example.com Phone: 719-866-4603
Sean Petty, USAC Chief of Staff Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 719-866-4783
Jim Ochowicz: USAC Board President Email: email@example.com Phone: 415.364.6947
Mailing address: USA Cycling, 1 Olympic Plaza, Colorado Springs, CO 80909
Photo is George Hincapie riding with cancer survivors and LAF supporters in the 2005 Ride for the Roses. If you look carefully, you will see Jim Ochowicz of USAC in the grey LiveStrong jersey riding with them to show his support for the LAF.