Monday 10 December 2012

Women's Tour of NZ cancelled

2012 Tour of New Zealand winner
Evelyn Stevens
Thanks to the cost of new drugs testing procedures required by the UCI as it desperately tries to hang on to some shred of credibility following the investigation into Lance Armstrong and US Postal, the Women's Tour of New Zealand has been cancelled for next year as organisers are unable to find the estimated figure needed to comply with the new rules.

"The UCI won't allow Drug Free Sport New Zealand to conduct tests in UCI events in New Zealand, this means they will send a UCI drugs inspector to New Zealand, we will have to import all testing devices from overseas, do at least 20 tests during the five days of racing, get a license to export human samples overseas, send all samples to a laboratory in Sydney to be tested all at our cost, this is approximately $30,000 per event," race director Jorge Sandoval told the Manawatu Standard, adding that he understands the need for the new measures.

$30,000? That's a lot of money in women's cycling, with most organisers spending much of the year grubbing around for tiny sponsorship deals and trying their hardest to persuade new backers to come on board when they could have been developing and improving their races, which are then run on budgets that don't resemble shoestrings so much as frayed bits of cotton thread. In UCI terms, however, it's nothing - it'd probably just about cover the average professional men's team's annual laundry bill. There's probably more than thirty grand in small change down the back of the comfy sofas littered about the UCI's swanky HQ in Aigle.

Get your wallet out, Pat!
Following years of criticism, the UCI has declared itself serious about securing the future of women's cycling and helping it to grow and develop. It would be, surely, in their interest to do so - viewing figures for the women's road race at the Olympics killed off the misconception that there's no sizable audience for women's cycling forever; promoting and developing the sport would surely make it profitable and bring even more funds into the UCI's coffers. The Tour of New Zealand is a major, five-day, international event that attracts the finest athletes cycling has to offer and it's followed by huge numbers of fans around the world - are the UCI willing to step in and save it, either by stumping up funds to cover the cost drugs testing or by introducing a scheme to help races that can't come up with an extra $30,000?

We shall see. What's more, the outcome will let us know if Pat and pals really meant it when they said they wanted to help women's cycling. If not, they can wave goodbye to another chunk of credibility as we wave goodbye to another race.

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