UCI on Pidcock and Van der Poel’s ‘leadership’: ‘We’re doing it for the future of mountain biking’

UCI on Pidcock and Van der Poel’s ‘leadership’: ‘We’re doing it for the future of mountain biking’

Fri Aug 11 2023 4:31 p.m

The International Cycling Union has responded to criticism with a last-minute rule change for the World Mountain Bike Championships. It’s about the future of mountain biking, says Pieter van den Abel, UCI’s director of sport. “Sport is better with the stars.”

I wouldn’t call it favouritism. “It’s about the added value of sport,” said van den Apel in Sporza. “Mountain bike racing with Pidcock or Van der Poel is of a different caliber than mountain bike racing without those two races. Let’s say Nino Schurter conquers the rainbow jersey this time with Tom Pidcock and Matthew van der Poel in attendance. Isn’t that important to him?”

Van den Abeele: “If you’re really useful, you’ll go up anyway”
The Belgian points out that the future of mountain biking doesn’t look so great. “I know we have to fight to keep the game on the Olympic Games schedule in Los Angeles 2028. In Tokyo we had good media personalities. Both Pidcock and Van der Pol were first there. That’s why I think it’s appropriate to help sport, because sport is better. With the stars.

Van den Abeele has a “message” for riders who have to fall off the lines due to the recent change: “You’ll have the perfect opportunity to get to the front of the race. And if you’re really handy, you’ll come up anyway. Here in Scotland there are plenty of opportunities to move up.”

Belgium coach: “Unfair”
Belgium national coach Philippe Merhaghi also gave his opinion on the situation. It’s clear, “You can’t change the rules during the World Cup.” “It’s not fair to the other participants,” he continues. “They sometimes travel all over the world collecting UCI points for a favorable starting position.”

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And it’s not fair to Pidcock either, who made an effort to ride the World Cup. He raced – and won – at Nove Mesto to be able to start properly in the World Cup. Now the UCI says, “You didn’t have to do all that,” Meraghi concluded.

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