Velon has lodged a complaint with the European Commission against the UCI ©Velon

Velon, a joint business venture between 11 WorldTour teams, has filed an anti-trust complaint to the European Commission against the International Cycling Union (UCI).

Velon confirmed they had asked the European Commission to investigate the way the UCI has implemented existing regulations.

They claim the UCI has sought to introduce new regulations designed to favour the governing body's business interests to the detriment of Velon and the teams.

One of their central complaints surrounds the Hammer Series, which has races of three days with separate challenges for teams with sprint, climbs and team time trials.

Velon claim no explanation has been provided by the governing body over a decision in February to rule the Hammer Races cannot be referred to as a series under UCI regulations.

Velon say teams continued to race for the series title, despite the UCI allegedly threatening to refuse to register Hammer Races should they continue to use the term series.

It is claimed the opposition by the UCI has "hampered the development" of the series, with potential race organisers and host cities reportedly having expressed interest to host events.

The group have also alleged that the UCI passed technical regulations without consultation with stakeholders, to give itself and race organisers ownership and control over the team's business on live race data.

"The UCI today believes that it should not only be the regulator for the sport but also take new business creation from its stakeholders without their consent," said Graham Bartlett, Velon chief executive.

"The UCI feels entitled to use its regulatory powers for its own commercial benefit and to take the rights of the teams and riders without consultation or permission.

"Despite continued efforts by Velon to engage with the UCI relating to our concerns on their actions, the UCI has refused any constructive dialogue for over a year.

"Consequently, Velon and its teams have been left with no alternative but to submit the complaint to the European Commission with the objective of having an external authority's assessment as to whether the conduct of the UCI in regard to the above matters (in particular its use of its regulatory power and political leverage) infringes EU competition rules.

"The Velon teams took the decision to openly publish the fact that they filed the complaint and a summary of their reasons for doing so in order to avoid any misunderstanding of their actions.

"Detailed information has been provided to the EU Competition Commission and whilst their review is ongoing, we respect their process and do not wish to place additional information in the public domain.

"Our desire is for a stable, predictable and fair regulatory environment for the sport that treats the teams, riders and race organisers in equal manner.

"Velon, its shareholders and partners, want the development of new ideas, to attract new investment and to create a better business model so that professional road cycling continues to strengthen and develop for the fans and everyone involved in the sport."

Velon consists of the WorldTour teams Bora-Hansgrohe, CCC Team, Deceuninck–QuickStep, EF Education First, Lotto Soudal, Mitchelton-Scott, Team Ineos, Team Jumbo-Visma, Team Sunweb, Trek-Segafredo and UAE Team Emirates.

The UCI has also faced opposition to their framework for the Classics Series ©Getty Images
The UCI has also faced opposition to their framework for the Classics Series ©Getty Images

“The UCI has not been notified of the complaint referred to in Velon’s press statement of 1 October 2019," a UCI spokesperson told insidethegames.

"In the case of such notification, it will take necessary steps according to appropriate procedure. In line with its mission, the UCI will continue to work with all its stakeholders, and in their best interests, for the new organisation of men’s professional road cycling.”

The UCI is not the first governing body to have been referred to the European Commission in recent years.

The International Skating Union (ISU) were forced to soften their rules surrounding events organised by third-party organisers after the European Commission ruled against them in December 2017.

The International Swimming Federation initially attempted to stop the emergence of the rival International Swimming League, before backing down after anti-trust lawsuits were lodged.

The International Basketball Federation has been involved in a feud with EuroLeague over the sport's calendar in what the world body claim is a "commercially-driven attack to the national teams".

Velon's action also comes a week after the Association of Men's Professional Road Cycling Teams (AIGCP) rejected the UCI's approach and framework for a Classics Series.

The AIGCP said their support for the series in September 2018 had been conditional on setting up the series of one-day races on a consensus basis, including teams and riders.

Their support was also claimed to be based on an "inclusive business plan and ownership model", with the group saying the series should have been a step towards fixing the "broken economic model".

The AIGCP has claimed no substantial progress has been made and they had informed the UCI of their rejection of the series in its current implementation.

The group said no team or contracted rider may be associated with the Classics Series without consent of that team.

An update published by the UCI last week had said members of the governing body's Management Committee had commended progress made with the series.

The series is aimed at bringing together the UCI WorldTour's one-day races with the inclusion of an overall classification and common branding for events.