Ex-Gazprom-RusVelo riders make their case to return to racing

CPA and officials press the UCI to find a solution for the riders and unveil a blue bracelet to raise awareness.

Photo: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images

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Ex-riders from the now-shuttered Gazprom-RusVelo team made their case during a press conference Monday to return to racing.

“They took away our license and we are victims of this situation. We cannot race, we cannot do our work,” said former Gazprom rider Marco Canola. “We have strong young riders on this team, and to think they cannot race due to something that absolutely has nothing to do with us, and that is completely unjust.

“It’s going to affect our careers, our ability to race,” Canola said. “We want a dialogue with the UCI that we can reincorporate into the peloton with another team, another sponsors, another jersey.”

Christian Scaroni said it’s been difficult for riders to try to find a new team. Scaroni has since raced under the Italian national team in some races, including Coppi e Bartali, where he was 12th overall.

“It was very late in the season and all the teams said their budgets were closed,” Scaroni said. “We are hoping that this situation can be resolved and we can return to racing. We can only take it day by day and we are waiting for a solution.”

Also read: Gazprom-Rusvelo suspend activities in wake of ban

The Gazprom team was banned from competition by the UCI this spring in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Team sponsor Gazprom was identified by the international community for sanctions for its close links to the governing of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The Gazprom-RusVelo team was removed from competition on March 1 by the UCI, a few days after the start of the Russian invasion, in a ban that included all teams flying the Russian or Belarusian flag.

Racing in the second division, the team headquartered in Switzerland was made up of 21 riders, of which nine are of Russian nationality and seven are Italian.

Though the ban might have been well-intentioned, the decision has put the team’s riders and staff into limbo. The team stopped racing in late March as it tried to find new sponsors.

Also read: UCI takes action and bans Russian sponsors

The team wanted to return to racing with a blank jersey while it looked for new backers, but the UCI would not allow it.

“These riders cannot race and they have nothing to do what is happening but today they are not without a team and without possibility to race,” said CPA president Gianni Bugno. “We are looking for a solution.”

The CPA presented a blue bracelet as a symbol of solidarity with the riders and staffers of the former Pro Team-level squad.

Riders and officials made their case during a press conference Monday to allow ex-Gazprom riders to race. (Photo: CPA)

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