Breakaway threat has focused UCI minds, says McQuaid

UCI president Pat McQuaid has conceded that the threat of a breakaway league has accelerated the process of searching for new revenues.

Following reports last week that the International Cycling Federation (UCI) was actively looking for outside investment for its newly formed commercial arm, Global Cycling Promotion (GCP), UCI president Pat McQuaid has conceded that the threat of a breakaway league has accelerated the process.

A Bloomberg story last week indicated that the UCI had had a proposal for investment in GCP rebuffed by ASO, the owners and operators of the Tour de France.

GCP, a commercial entity set up to feed profits back to the UCI, undertook its first major project last year, acting as comprehensive consultant to the organisers of the inaugural Tour of Beijing top-level road race. New races in Russia and South America are in the pipeline.

"I have felt for a couple of years that UCI needed new sources of revenues to assist us develop our sport and to meet the demands of developing new disciplines such as BMX and Para-Cycling," McQuaid told SportsPro via email.

"The concept was presented to and passed by the management committee a couple of years ago but it moved on slowly  - until the Tour of Beijing presented itself as a perfect vehicle for GCP to work on.That moved the idea on a lot and it could be true to say also that the threat [of a breakaway league] focused our minds also."

Although whispers had been circulating for months, towards the end of last year the website uncovered plans to create a global series of road racing outside the UCI's remit.

The plan, put together by London-based Gifted Group, argues that the series would generate almost €40 million by 2017. It would have had the backing of investment giant Rothschild.

It has, however, not come to fruition.

McQuaid dismissed the notion of the UCI approaching Rothschild with a proposal to invest in GCP saying, "since they didn’t have the courtesy to approach us I fail to see why we should consider them.

"We are in the very early stages of GCP and are taking advice from experts as how best we might proceed," McQuaid continued. "There is no pressure on us to take an investor so we examine all options.

"Outside revenue is not an issue. Indeed GCP can continue to operate and grow without outside investment. However with the fast changing world of sport, cycling included, faster growth, aided by investment, might be a consideration."