Nicola Conci joined the Gazprom-Rusvelo team this season only to be laid off after the UCI suspended the team following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now the Italian has issued a call on social media pressuring the UCI to find answers for him and his teammates.
“The words of this message are addressed to the UCI,” Conci wrote. “It’s already been 50 days since me and my ex-Gazprom Rusvelo Team teammates saw our right to do our job revoked. We saw our salaries and goals suspended.
“We have waited and worked with you and CPA in a professional manner, but now you must take responsibility and resolve our situation,” Conci wrote. “The time for answers has come. Stop talking, start acting. Our future depends on your choices.”
On March 1, the UCI banned all Belarusian and Russian teams from competition as part of a global response to Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, with Belarus serving as a staging ground.
The assault is entering its third month and sporting sanctions, including banning Russians and Belarusians from the Paralympics, as well as economic sanctions have done little to slow the destruction of Ukraine.
Gazprom-RusVelo was the only ProTeam registered in Russia, while three continental men’s teams: Vozrozhdenie, CCN Factory Racing and the Minsk Cycling Club men’s and women’s teams were also affected by the ban.
Meanwhile, the UCI has allowed Russians and Belarusians on foreign professional teams to continue competing, while foreign riders on Russian or Belarusian teams are suspended.
The UCI has relaxed the rules that cover changing nationality, adding a provision allowing any license holder to change nationality and speeding up the process for dual citizens to change sports country.
This won’t help any of the foreign riders on the Russian-licensed team, though. Most were unable to find teams, although several riders competed with the Italian national team in the Tour of Sicily, including Conci, who finished sixth overall behind teammate Damiano Caruso.
Gazprom-Rusvelo, which is based in Italy with a Swiss management company and the German subsidiary of Gazprom as title sponsor, was forced to suspend all activities and allow riders to seek new contracts last month as were looking to rebuild the team with a new sponsor. .
Although the team’s kit sponsors Look and Corima pulled out of the team in March, the team hoped to continue with an unbranded kit.
“We would have attracted a lot of attention, which could have helped save the team. It was our chance, the riders accepted the plan and were motivated but the UCI said no and did not help us at all. By doing nothing, they went against us,” team leader Renat Khamidulin told Cycling news.