In the latest blow to pro cyclists that were hoping that rule 1.2.019 would be abolished or ignored, the UCI has issued a statement strengthening their position on the matter. The rule prevents pro cyclists on National teams from entering “forbidden races” – events that have not been included on a national, continental or world calendar or that has not been recognized by a national federation, a continental confederation or the UCI. This means races like Epic Rides’ Whiskey 50, the Leadville 100, the Breck Epic MTB Stage Race and Whistler’s Crankworx festival to name a few, are off-limits to trade team riders. Although, the way it reads makes it seem like any licensed rider will be affected by the rule, not just pros, which is even worse.

The letter from the UCI enforces their stance on the rule, but mentions that “a national federation may grant special exceptions for races or particular events run in its own country.” So how is USA Cycling responding to that clarification? Any mountain bike event that occurred in 2012, but was not sanctioned with USA Cycling in 2012, will have the USA Cycling permit fee waived – but for one year only. Race organizers will still have to pay the USA cycling per-rider surcharge, though USA Cycling will subsidize $1 of the $3 charge per rider – so race organizers will have to pay $2 per registered rider if they wish to be recognized by USA cycling so the pros can race.

While it may sound like a compromise of sorts, Twitter is already lighting up with disgruntled tweets . We wonder if there will still be a meeting at Sea Otter?

Jump past the break for the UCI and USAC’s response.



To all National Federations

Sent by email only

Aigle, 26 March 2013
Ref: Presidency

Re: forbidden racesDear President,

It has recently come to our attention that some National Federations are experiencing difficulties in the interpretation and  application of  the rules relating  to “forbidden races”,  namely  Articles 1.2.019,
1.2.020 and 1.2.021 of the UCI Regulations.

With this in mind, we would like to provide the following clarification which we hope you will find useful. Article 1.2.019 of the UCI Regulations states:

“No license holder may participate in an event that has not been included on a national, continental or world calendar or that has not been recognised by a national federation, a continental confederation or the UCI.

A national federation may grant special exceptions for races or particular events run in its own country.”

The objective of this regulation is to protect the hard work and resources you pour into the development of your events at national level. It allows for a federative structure,  something which is inherent in organised sport and which is essential to being a part of the Olympic movement.

Of course the regulation also allows the UCI, in line with its mission as an international federation, to guarantee uniform regulation.

Article 1.2.019 applies to all license holders, without exception. It does not solely concern professional riders or just the members of UCI teams, contrary to certain statements in the press and on some blogs.

The second paragraph of Article 1.2.019 affords each national federation the facility to grant a special exception for specific races or events taking place in its territory.

Special races or events are understood to be cycle events which are not registered on the national calendar of the country’s federation or on the UCI international calendar. This generally concerns events that are occasional and which do not recur, most often organised by persons or entities who do not belong to the world of organised sport. For example, an event may be organised by an association that does not have a link to the National Federation, such as a race specifically for members of the armed forces, fire fighters or students or perhaps as part of a national multisport event.

With the exception of these special cases, the National Federation is not permitted to grant an exemption to a cycle event which is held, deliberately or not, outside the federative movement. For example, in no case should an exception be granted to a cycling event that is organised by a person or entity who regularly organises cycling events.

CH 1860 Aigle I Switzerland
Q)+41 24 468 58 11      fax +41 24 468 58 12

The objective of Article 1.2.019 is that exemptions should only be granted in exceptional cases.

Licence holders who participate in a “forbidden race” make themselves liable not only to sanctions  by their National Federation, as scheduled by Article 1.2.021 of the UCI regulations,  but also run the risk of not having sufficient insurance cover in the event of an accident.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Please accept our kindest regards,

Pat McQuaid

CH 1860 Aigle I Switzerland
Q)+41 24 468 58 11      fax +41 24 468 58 12


Clarification on affected riders: The letter from the UCI confirms no UCI licensed rider, in any discipline, may participate in an event not sanctioned by a national federation recognized by the UCI (USA Cycling is the sole national federation in the United States). Originally, this was described as only affecting those UCI-licensed riders on UCI teams. The UCI has subsequently clarified that the rule extends to ALL UCI-licensed riders, even those not associated with a UCI team.

USA Cycling Working to Ease the Transition
USA Cycling understands the fact that this rule enforcement has a far-reaching impact on riders and race directors alike, particularly in the mountain bike discipline. To help manage the impact and assist riders and race directors with the transition, USA Cycling will work with non-sanctioned mountain bike events by providing the following for mountain bike events permitted with USA Cycling after April 1, 2013:

  • For any mountain bike event that occurred in 2012, but did not sanction with USA Cycling in 2012, USA Cycling will waive the permit fee (2013 only). USA Cycling will also subsidize $1 of the $3 dollar per rider insurance surcharge. The per-rider insurance surcharge for mountain bike events that occurred in 2012 but were not permitted in 2012 will be $2 per rider (2013 only).

What a USA Cycling Event Permit Provides for Race Promoters:

  • Low permit fees. A mountain bike race of less than 500 riders has a maximum permit fee of $100 a day. The only other fee USA Cycling collects is a per-rider insurance charge of $3 which covers one of the most robust insurance packages in cycling for the race director, the landowners, the sponsors, and excess accident medical coverage for participants. Comparable insurance coverage cost per rider is much more expensive.
  • Racing infrastructure for a safe and level playing field including anti-doping, rules and trained officials. As the only USOC and UCI recognized cycling organization in the U.S., riders in USA Cycling events can be subject to the groundbreaking USA Cycling RaceClean™ anti-doping program to create a level playing field.
  • Access to USA Cycling’s online registration system that allows riders to register for events and sign electronic waivers on the USA Cycling website or by using the USA Cycling smartphone app.
  • A $0.40 rebate to race directors for each registration when you use USA Cycling’s online registration system.

Why you Should Support USA Cycling Sanctioned Events:

  • USA Cycling spends more than $4 million per year supporting American athletes in development and international competition programs. Much of that money is generated from the racing activities of our more than 74,000 members racing more than 600,000 racing days each year in sanctioned events. Every time you race in a sanctioned event, a small amount of revenue is generated to support critical athlete programs.  Most importantly, virtually every dime USA Cycling generates as a result of your racing activities is reinvested in the sport.  However, when you compete in an unsanctioned event, nothing goes to support these important programs that help to maintain our international success and create the heroes and role models that are so important to the sport.
  • In 2012, USA Cycling spent more than $530,000 in support of mountain bike development programs, world championships and pre-Olympic camps to help riders achieve their dreams on the world’s biggest stages.
  • Professionally-licensed riders are the direct beneficiaries of USA Cycling’s significant investment in athlete support. As such, they have a vested interest to support the sanctioned events that fuel that support.
  • Insurance protection at sanctioned events is some of the best available and provides coverage not only for the race directors, but also for the volunteers and officials working the event, as well as the racers themselves. At unsanctioned events, there is no guarantee that the insurance provides adequate coverage to anyone other than the race owner. Most unsanctioned events will claim they have comparable overall insurance coverage for their event when compared to what USA Cycling’s insurance program provides, but our own research and analysis have shown that is just not the case.
  • Sanctioned events provide a safe and level playing field by a consistent standard  for athlete protection such as accident insurance, an enforceable code of conduct and USA Cycling’s RaceClean™ anti-doping controls conducted by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
  • Sanctioned events provide licensed participants with the opportunity to be part of the USA Cycling National Results and Ranking System that allows you to compare your results to everyone else in your age group by city, state, region or even nationally.

For complete information on fees, benefits and how to sanction an event with USA Cycling, click HERE


  1. reading comprehension on

    I don’t want to be the (deleted) that rags on the author in the comments section, but the letter clearly states:

    “The UCI has subsequently clarified that the rule extends to ALL UCI-licensed riders, even those not associated with a UCI team.”

    That means ANYONE WITH A UCI LICENSE, not just those on national teams. It also means tens of thousands of racers are affected, instead of the ten domestic pros on national teams.

  2. Tommy Rodgers on

    There are not “tens of thousands” of UCI license holders in the US. There are less than 500 pro/elite MTB license owners in the country. The pros (all the pros, not just UCI trade team pros) are the ones affected, as they are required to purchase a UCI international license by USAC.

  3. Jonny on

    Aah, Bike Rumor doesn’t recognize the ‘Does Not Equal’ Sign…

    So a USAC License does not equal a UCI Licence, Correct?

  4. Tommy Rodgers on

    That’s correct to the best of my understanding. I never had to purchase a UCI license until upgrading to pro/elite.

  5. reading comprehension on

    Zach, Read the second sentence of your article, it clearly (still) says “on National teams.”

    Tommy, That number can’t be right. The letter doesn’t mention “MTB licence holders” it says “all UCI licensed riders”. You have to have a UCI license to race in a UCI cyclocross race, and those races routinely have 100+ racers. A small percentage will be international racers or traveling pros, but most are local racers with UCI licenses. I’ll concede that there might not be tens of thousands, but there are magnitudes more than 300.

  6. reading comprehension on

    dave, there is no such thing as a non-elite UCI race. I know events or weekends might be labeled “UCI”, but the elite race is the only actual UCI race at that event.

    In other words there is no such thing as a UCI Cat4 race.

  7. Loki on

    The phrasing “applies to all license holders, without exception” is the key. I would interpret it as any UCI license.

    In Canada, if you are competing in the provincial (translate as “state”) series you have to have a UCI license.
    You need a license if you answer yes to (O-Cup is Ontario Provincial series):
    – Are you racing at the National Championships?
    – Are you racing Sport, Expert or Elite in any MTB XC O-Cup and are over the age of 16?
    – Are you racing MTB O-Cup Downhill?
    – Are you racing Road Ontario Cups and/or Regional Races ?
    You will require a UCI licence in these situations unless you are only interested in making use of One-Event Racing Permits.(Only allowed 3 one days in a season, don’t collect points)

    If that holds true in other countries that affects a lot of riders.

  8. RIdeBeerSleep on

    Wow, Barry Wick’s Cyclingdirt call-out sure upset some people.

    The way I read it (not a lawyer) is that anyone holding a UCI license will be affected and cannot race a “non-sanctioned race.” USAC could not care less about the cat 3-5, as long as you keep paying for your license year after year. Whether this extends to Cat 1’s will be interesting to see.

    The riders that this will affect the most are the names listed in the middle to the bottom of the elite results pages at your PRO XCT and USGP. These are riders who are extremely fast and can sometime hang with the top pros while holding down a 40hr a week job but do not make a living racing bikes but still hold a UCI license.

    What will be interesting to watch is if any pros leave their UCI license behind. In the current world of mountain biking I think the races where sponsors would want their riders are not Pro XCT races or USAC races. Right now the most exciting and well attended events are in the Endruos, Endurance, stage races and gravel race spectrum and almost none of these are USAC.

    I find the most telling is the “ease to transition” offer to make your race USAC for $2 a rider. Consider the number of riders at Whiskey 50 (upwards of 2500), Chequamegon (2500 riders), Leadville 1800, Barry Roubaix had 3,000 riders 2 weeks ago, the NUE book 250-500 riders per race over a dozen or so races… that is a lot of money and we are not even getting in to the smaller state enduro and endurance series or your Tuesday night short track. This is a cash grab aimed at the bigger races; this has nothing to do with the working pro.

  9. aaron on

    That statement is what USAC should have released from the beginning, however the way they run the program is still wrong.

  10. Scott on

    This is restraint of trade and would be tossed in court. Only no one will take it to that level unless they have a pocketful of change. Amazing how the legality of something is never tested due to the financial limitations of those being harmed.

    The UCI does not even provide an income to any cyclist. They are trying to tell you where you can go and what you can do. So that makes this BS even funnier.

  11. Tommy Rodgers on

    @reading comprehension – the number I gave was the number of pro/elite MTB licenses in the US as of yesterday. Only pro/elite are required to hold a UCI license.

    I don’t know how many CX pros there are, but if there are more than 300 I’d be amazed.

    And if we’re talking road pros – not Cat 1, but a true road pro on a pro team (because that’s how one has a road pro license vs. a Cat 1 license), I’d guess there are less than 300 of those as well.

    So, “orders of magnitude” might be a reach.

    And let’s face it – this isn’t really a concern on the road side to the same degree as MTB and CX…

  12. Ken Petruzzelli on

    Somehow I can’t help but wonder if this would constitute an illegal restraint of free trade under the Sherman Act or violate EU anti-competition laws, especially as the Olympics become more and more commercialized.

  13. Bill Showers on

    Tommy Rodgers… I’m not sure where you’re getting these numbers but there are a lot more than 300 UCI license holders. I am seeing 292 Pro men that are “ranked” on the USAC site. There are 87 Pro women. In order to be ranked there, I think you needed to finish a uci event this year. I didnt bother going into each discipline. Also, I suspect that there are a lot of UCI license holders that are dormant or have not raced this year. My Wife and I are both UCI license holders and have not raced yet. Same with a close friend and his wife. That’s four more UCI license holders and have not raced yet. I find it hard to believe that we’re the only four pro riders in America that haven’t raced yet.

    Nevertheless, the number of pros affected really is irrelevant. This affects all riders… When I was up and coming in this sport, It was awesome to see real pro racers show up and race the same course that I was racing. When I started racing elite events, it was awesome to even stand on the line with these guys. Having pro racers at grassroots events is a draw to all riders. It can bring more sponsorship to the events, it can bring more notoriety to events and it brings an awe factor for everyone.

    The guys that are racing and depending upon these paychecks to continue their career of racing bikes are hurt pretty bad. That really sucks. For me, I have a real job and life outside of cycling. I just like to race my bike in my spare time. Now UCI and USAC are unlawfully telling my wife and I where we can an cannot race our bicycles for fun. That is bullsh!t.

  14. Tommy Rodgers on

    @Bill Showers… I haven’t ever done a UCI event and I’m ranked in the top 100 of pro/elite. All current licenses are listed in rankings if you’ve done ANY USAC (not UCI) event in the past year.

    Further, I was listed in the rankings AFTER I upgraded but BEFORE I bought my first UCI license. So that number might actually be HIGHER than the total MTB UCI license holders.

    As to the rest of your post, you are preaching to the choir. I raced a non-USAC event yesterday. Roughly half of my races are non-USAC. I think the rule is BS and unenforceable; I also think if affects many fewer people than most are assuming.

    And, for the record, I’m the same boat as you – a professional career, and racing is my life’s tertiary focus at best (behind family and work). It sucks less for us than the poor guys and girls making $25,000/year or less as a “real” pro, but it sucks for us, too.

  15. Bill Showers on

    @Tommy Rodgers… Regarding the rankings, I meant to write that you need to complete a USAC sanctioned event to be ranked – but even that, I’m unsure of. As you’ve pointed out, there is still some confusion – if not discrepancies – as to how these rankings are compiled. But at least USAC cites this ranking system as one of the reasons we should support USAC sanctioned events.

    I agree that this rule is not enforceable. I’d like to see them try to fine me for riding my bicycle where i want to ride it. But I disagree with you on who is affected. I think it affects all of us. I think it affects every person that competes in a bicycle race, sanctioned or not.

    Trying to restrict riders from competing has already turned off a lot of people – and we’re just at the tip of the iceberg. This will have a trickle down effect on some and they will likely not renew their license. Even if only a few of them stop racing, then it is a huge loss for the cycling community, and for what? If USAC is able to gain traction with this rule, what is stopping them from applying this rule to ALL license holders – not just those of us with a UCI endoresment?

    Aside from that, they are trying to leverage the Pro riders in an effort to squeeze unsanctioned events to join. For those events that do not comply, pro riders can’t race, which brings less PR for the event, less sponsorship opportunity, less of a spectacle for it’s participants. It hurts the events no matter how you slice it.

    For the young riders (like myself back in the day), They’re now going to miss out on the opportunity to watch their idols in person. To interact with them. To be inspired by them. That’s a huge blow, as it’s one of the things that has fueled me throughout the years. It’s priceless and it’s irreplaceable.

    For the real pros who depend on these unsanctioned events to pay their bills and continue their career of racing bicycles, This really sucks. I feel for them and empathize with their situation. I know that they just want to race their bikes, as you and I do. USAC needs to allow them to do so. Give them a chance to continue their career.

    For you and I, realistically this is just a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things. We’re out here for fun and neither of us want to be told where we can and cannot ride our bicycles.

  16. Jib's Mom on

    Both the UCI and USAC sound like a bunch of bullies. I haven’t renewed my USAC license in 2 years and am now having more fun racing better run and more interesting events than anything the USAC or the promoters who used them ever have had.

    The USAC is a dinosaur. Time to let the meteor of independent cycling events take them and the UCI out forever.


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