BOULDER, Colo. (VN) — Responding to complaints that the Movistar Continental team declined its invitation to attend the Amgen Tour of California because it did not receive financial assistance to travel to the race — something UCI WorldTour teams receive — AEG Sports president Andrew Messick told VeloNews that the event “fulfilled UCI requirements.”
The UCI requires all events to cover lodging and meals for all pro teams during UCI-sanctioned stage races, regardless of their professional status.
However beyond this requirement, invitational events such as the Amgen Tour of California often entice top teams by covering airfare costs, which, for a European team and staff of 20, can cost upwards of $25,000. Top teams also often receive appearance fees, as well as assistance from race organizers in securing travel visas.
The Colombian Movistar Continental team (which is the lower-tier team associated with the Spanish ProTeam of the same name) was invited to the race because of a new UCI rule, set forth in late January, demanding that non-European events invite their regions’ top teams. The Amgen Tour of California is part of the UCI’s America’s Tour.
On Monday Messick told VeloNews the team had opted out because the logistics “were too hard, as a South American team traveling to North America.”
However several sources contacted VeloNews claiming that the team was angry it had not been offered any additional money, in airfare or appearance fees, to come to the race.
A recent story on Cyclingnews.com cited Movistar’s communications officer, Juan Pablo Molinero, as saying “(the race organizer) is the only one that knows the reasons.”
Messick refused to speculate on whether Movistar expected to have its airfare paid for, as WorldTour teams do, but added that the difference in treatment between Pro Team, Pro Continental and Continental teams was justified.
“I can’t speak to what their expectations were,” Messick said. “We treated them the same as we treat all Continental teams. We didn’t offer airfare to any Continental teams. All teams are provided with meals and lodging, and that is part of what we offered Movistar.”
Asked about the difference in how ProTeam, Pro Continental and Continental teams are treated by the race, Messick would only say that, “there is a difference.”
“We are an invitational event,” Messick said. “We view elite teams and elite riders differently than Pro Continental and Continental teams and riders. (WorldTour) teams are the teams that people want to watch on TV, that bring people to the side of the road, and that bring them to read about the race online. Their attendance is vital to the success of the race. This is the way we have organized the race since the beginning.”