Israel Premier Tech’s Sylvan Adams pressures UCI to reverse WorldTour rules: ‘Relegation is death’

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MONTREAL (VN) — Israel Premier Tech owner Sylvan Adams says there is a “very simple and elegant” way for the UCI to end the WorldTour relegation war that is tearing the peloton down to the seams.

Adams put it this way: The UCI should bring up “force majeure” in light of a global pandemic that has raged for three years, and simply expand the WorldTour league from 18 to 20.

That way, Adams insists, everyone wins.

No existing WorldTour team would face possible closure, Arkéa-Samsic and Alpecin-Deceuninck are both going up, and powerful Tour de France owners ASO will retain at least two of its “wildcard” invitations to hand out each July.

Easy, right? Adams thinks so.

“Who is hurt by this idea of ​​going to 20 teams? Nobody,” Adams said. “Regation is death. It doesn’t matter which of the two teams ends up being relegated. It is an existential problem.

“Why do we destroy rather than build? It’s as simple as that,” Adams said. BikeNews and Cycling news in an interview. “I hope common sense will prevail.”

Adams on relegation threat: ‘I don’t see what there is to gain’

Half a dozen teams in the bottom half of the WorldTour standings are desperate for points in the final weeks of the 2022 racing season.

Strange things are happening. Teams aren’t allowing riders to compete in world championships, and administrators are sending sick riders to races in order to chase points in a desperate attempt to try and secure the future of long-running franchises.

Adams’ Israel Premier Tech team – which joined the WorldTour in 2020 – appear to be on the losing side of a bottom-of-the-table tussle against teams such as Lotto Soudal, Movistar, EF Education-EasyPost, Cofidis, and BikeExchange-Jayco.

Two of the lowest-ranked teams will not qualify for the next round of three-year WorldTour licensing based on accumulated points calculated using the results of the top riders from 2020-22.

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Despite growing resistance, the UCI insists on moving forward with relegation plans and points out that all major stakeholders signed an agreement three years ago to introduce the football-style relegation/promotion system based on the results.

Adams counters that it’s not too late to reverse what he says was a bad idea.

“Threatening our team and other teams with this relegation is so damaging, and I don’t see the point of it,” Adams said. “I don’t see what there is to gain. We have 20, maybe 21 teams that have the budget to be WorldTour. Other sports encourage expansion. It’s destructive.”

Adams points out that if his team or other teams lose WorldTour licenses, sponsors, top riders and other backers will likely flee because many contracts include clauses tied to WorldTour status.

Without the WorldTour license, a team will stick around, and some might even close.

“I’m still hopeful that we’ll still end up on the bright side of relegation, even if it looks like it’s getting worse and worse,” Adams said in Montreal. “Even if we did, I don’t want to see those other teams disappear.

“I don’t want to see the end of Movistar, EF or Bike Exchange. Why?”

Adams: ‘If I lose, I’m going to take them to court’

Sylvan Adams, owner of the Israel-Premier Tech team, pointed to Gino Bartali’s name during a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Israel last year. (Photo: Andrew Hood/VeloNews)

Adams says there is an easy answer.

Adams is campaigning for the UCI to drop the divisive relegation plans, while offering WorldTour licenses to Alpecin-Deceuninck and Arkéa-Samsic, two teams that will likely find themselves in the top league by picking up points in the last three seasons.

Adams says there’s an easy way out by invoking “force majeure,” a legal concept that allows both parties to break an agreement due to an extraordinary event, such as war, drought or hurricane.

“A global pandemic is the definition of ‘force majeure,'” Adams said. “And there was a pandemic for the full three years of the relegation process. If it was just the first season, okay, maybe, but we’ve been affected more by it this year than in 2020.”

By expanding the WorldTour rather than shrinking it, Adams said the UCI could solve many problems at once.

The 18 existing WorldTour teams would keep their licenses, and Alpecin-Deceuninck and Arkéa-Samsic would be integrated at the higher level.

Adams – a billionaire property developer and two-time Masters world champion – said he was frustrated with cycling’s insistence on pushing ahead with its controversial relegation plans despite the backdrop of a global pandemic.

And he vowed that if the UCI did not find a compromise, he would consider legal action.

“And if I lose, I’m going to sue them,” Adams said. “If I lose my sponsors and it costs me millions, someone has to heal me. If I show that they don’t apply the rules consistently, I think I have a very good record.

Adams’ Israel Premier Tech team has been particularly hard hit by COVID this season. He started the 2022 season safely in the middle of the pack, but a series of infections and illnesses knocked the wheels out from under the team this spring.

The team was unable to field a team for the Tour of Flanders in April and only one rider completed Paris-Nice in March as COVID-19 ravaged the team. Illnesses and infections continue to plague his team, with riders like Chris Froome and Michael Woods having also recently been infected.

“I claim ‘force majeure,'” he said. “I know why we’re struggling for points this year is because of the pandemic. We’ve been through some weird times.

Adams said he was not afraid to make his point, even if it might irritate the powerful Tour de France owners and race organizer ASO. Adams even joked that he would start his own Tour de France if he was somehow blackballed for taking a tough stance to defend the teams.

Adams confirmed he had contacted the UCI through secondary channels to try to create a dialogue with top officials, and said he hoped the sport’s key stakeholders could find a solution.

“I hate litigation. No one wins in litigation, only lawyers win. If they put me in this position of causing terrible damage, I will explore all my options,” Adams said.

“I’m an optimist,” he said. “There is no problem worse than relegation. Relegation is destruction.

Adams is urging UCI President David Lappartient to reconsider relegation plans as well as the equally controversial points system that underpins team rankings.

“There is a simple solution, and it doesn’t hurt anyone. It’s a fancy way out of this mess,” Adams said. “It’s a very elegant solution; expand to 20 teams, and no one loses.

Adams’ suggestion would require a dramatic UCI reversal.

On Friday, cycling’s governing body issued a terse press release insisting that relegation rules would be imposed.

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