Three riders were forbidden to start the New Zealand Cycle Classic in Palmerston North on Wednesday at the eleventh hour, but why? Sarah van Boheemen delves into the rarely exercised UCI rule that prevented them starting, and why it exists.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

Australia's Jacob Kauffman and New Zealand's Roman van Uden and Hamish Schreurs were told the night before the New Zealand Cycle Classic that they could not don race numbers to compete in the UCI 2.1 Tour.

Why? Because they were registered to UCI teams on the other side of the world who weren't racing the event.

Here's what the Chief Commissaire, Australian Greg Griffiths said of the matter:

"The three riders involved belong to UCI-registered teams and part of the UCI regulations is that they can only ride for those teams. Their teams are not entered in this race.

"In this race we have mixed teams - club teams or regional teams - but because these riders belong to a registered team they are not permitted by the regulations to race with another team. So that's the reason they are not allowed to start. It's unfortunate for them because they did make the journey here, but that's the regulation."

If the riders have been racing for the national team - as is Bissell Development's James Oram or the riders in the UniSA-Australia team at the Tour Down Under - it would have been permitted.

"The riders should have known for a start," said Griffiths. "But the next step was that it should have been picked up when they entered. I checked it last week and found these three riders and I let the race organiser know."

Luckily, Kauffman, who was meant to be riding with Data#3 Symantec, was pretty forgiving about the situation - or he was when I spoke to him more than 12 hours later.

"I was informed at 9:30pm the night before the race - a shitty end to a long travel day," said Kauffman who will join Louis Garneau in Canada later in the year.

"It's one of those things. There is nothing I can do about it now. Take it on the chin, it's a long year ahead."

While a terrible breakdown in communication left it for the riders to be told at the eleventh hour, the bigger issue here is a ruling is stifling the growth of cycling in a country like New Zealand.

In the past, to the best of my knowledge, this rule has never been enforced at this race - either riders' UCI team commitments have slipped through the cracks, or someone was turning a blind eye.

Race director Jorge Sandoval believes it is his role to promote cycling and this regulation does the opposite.

"This rules out so many riders. It's not promoting cycling, it is doing the opposite. It is making it hard for the riders to race," said Sandoval.

If this rule was uniformly enforced, then New Zealand's best talent would miss out on their only chance to race an international event at home, and one of only two tours on the Oceania calendar.

It may not seem like a major deal for international riders who have well-padded race calendars, but New Zealand has a major shortage of quality events and development opportunities.

While rules are needed to protect the integrity of both teams and races, flexibility is needed in the application of those rules in areas around the world where development is crucial.