British trade team Huub-Wattbike have criticised the sweeping changes to track cycling announced by the sport's governing body last week, describing them as “brutally destructive”.
Huub-Wattbike have made headlines in recent years by taking on, and often beating national squads at UCI Track World Cup events.
Riders such as Dan Bigham, Charlie Tanfield and John Archibald have all been selected to ride for Great Britain off the back of strong performances for the Derby-based team, who dub their training base 'Derbados'.
However, the team's future is now in serious doubt after the UCI announced a major overhaul of the track cycling calendar, which will see trade teams such as Huub-Wattbike barred from riding World Cup events.
As part of its plan to "revitalise" track cycling, the UCI said the World Cup series would be reduced from six events to three from the 2020/21 season. This, it explained, was to reduce the financial burden on National Federations.
The new series, called the UCI Track Cycling Nations’ Cup, will from 2021 be organised from July to September rather than October to January. It will be reserved solely for national teams.
In another big change, the Track World Championships will be moved from March to October.
In an open letter to UCI president David Lappartient, the team argued that the changes threatened to remove healthy competition and would leave track cycling fighting against road cycling in the summer months without the support of trade teams such as Huub-Wattbike.
“As a multiple World Cup-winning trade team, which has broken records and developed world champions, the announced changes have severe implications for us and will ultimately kill off the existence of trade teams completely," read the letter, which was signed by the teams riders and sponsors. “Furthermore, and putting our personal situation aside, we feel the changes are brutally destructive for the sport we know and love.
“If drastic changes aren’t made to these plans then you will be left solely responsible for the consequences, as the sport of track cycling is forced to battle head to head with road racing without the support of trade teams, their characters, personalities and all of their commercial partners.”
The letter added: “We have provided a huge amount of opportunities for riders who exist outside of national programmes to grow, develop and perform on the world stage.
“Charlie Tanfield, John Archibald and Ashton Lambie, possibly three of the greatest pursuiters of all time, have come through our team.”
A UCI spokesperson said that the Nations’ Cup would be part of a new qualification process for the World Championships and part of a three-layer qualification process for the Olympic Games.
The spokesperson added that the season had been moved to the summer to make it easier for endurance riders to take part in the World Championships.