UCI revokes Zaaf Cycling Team's licence
The UCI has removed Zaaf Cycling Team from its list of registered teams after eight riders quit following allegations that the team have not paid salaries, leaving only seven riders currently remaining on its roster.
The UCI has confirmed to Cyclingnews that a seven-rider roster is below the minimum of eight riders that the sport governing body requires for a team to obtain a Continental women's team licence, and as such, the team does not currently meet those requirements.
"Please be informed, that according to the UCI Regulations (Part 2 - Road Races - art. 2.17.004), a UCI Women’s Continental team must have a minimum of 8 riders," a representative of the UCI wrote to Cyclingnews on Friday.
"Since ZAAF Cycling Team does not currently meet the requirements for registration as a UCI Women’s Continental team, the team has been removed from the list of registered teams."
Zaaf at risk of losing team licence as roster drops to seven riders
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Zaaf under investigation after allegations team failed to pay rider, staff salaries
The UCI regulations article 2.17.004 states that a UCI continental women's team must have a minimum of 8 riders and a maximum of 16 riders with the option to add four riders specialising in other endurance cycling disciplines.
Cyclingnews asked the UCI if there is the possibility for the Zaaf Cycling Team's licence to be reinstated this year, for example, if they hire another rider in the June transfer window, and if this case is being looked into by the Ethics Commission, but they have not replied.
The Spanish-registered team is currently under investigation after eight riders walked away from the programme amid allegations that they have not paid some riders and staff salaries and that they have shown a lack of professionalism.
Cyclingnews has contacted the Zaaf Cycling Team to clarify the team's financial situation, along with the allegations that they have not paid some riders and staff and allegations of a lack of professionalism, but the team has not responded.
Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed was the eighth rider to announce that she has left the Zaaf Cycling Team, following Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Lucie Jounier, Mareille Meijering, Elizabeth Stannard, Heidi Franz, Michaela Drummond and Maggie Coles-Lyster.
Some of the riders who departed the team have found new contracts, with Cordon-Ragot signing with Human Powered Health just ahead of Paris-Roubaix, Jounier with Team Coop-Hitec and Meijering with Movistar, Stannard with Israel Premier Tech, and Franz signing with DNA Pro Cycling.
The UCI granted these riders exemptions to register with new teams before the transfer window opens on June 1 due to the extenuating circumstances of their departure from Zaaf.
The seven riders who were currently still under contract as of Thursday, April 27, when the team was officially removed from the UCI's registered list of Continental teams were Eva Anguela, Danielle De Francesco, Lucía García, Nikola Nosková, Marta Romance, Debora Silvestri, and Emanuela Zanetti.
The team had raced in a full range of stage races and one-day races since January, including some of the biggest Classics. Unipublic confirmed earlier this week that the team would not be taking part in the country’s biggest women’s race, La Vuelta Feminina, set to start on May 1, as sources at the race organisation told Cyclingnews that Zaaf had opted to pull out and will not be substituted.
As the Zaaf Cycling Team is in their first season with a UCI Continental Team licence, they supplied the sport governing body with a bank guarantee when they registered for the season, but if opened, would cover just three months' worth of missed payments.
The UCI has stated that the responsibility of drawing on the bank guarantee falls on the Spanish Cycling Federation and that it would take up to one year to open from the date the riders stopped being paid.
The Cyclists' Alliance, an association that supports the women's peloton, has been working with the riders, too, to try to expedite that process while also supporting them in the possible next steps.
It is unclear at this stage if the athletes will be able to recover any of the payments for work completed owed to them. However, TCA has confirmed to Cyclingnews that they are investigating all options with the riders at the moment, which includes but is not limited to a request for arbitration at UCI and/or a formal complaint in front of the Spanish civil court.
The Spanish Cycling Federation has told Cyclingnews that it is aware of the allegations that have been lodged against the Zaaf Cycling Team, confirming that it has received documentation, which it would utilise to show proof that some of the team's riders and staff have not been paid.
The Spanish Cycling Federation has also confirmed to Cyclingnews that it is aware that Zaaf Cycling Team has had its Continental licence revoked.
"As established by the UCI regulations, a UCI women's continental team must have at least 8 riders on the roster to be able to compete. The Continental Team license is handled by the national federations, but the one who has the power to withdraw the license is the UCI," a representative from the Spanish Cycling Federation told Cyclingnews.
"Regarding the rest of the issues, we can only tell you that the Spanish Cycling Federation is in continuous contact and communication with the UCI, as well as with the riders and workers of the Zaaf team affected by this situation. We cannot reveal details, but the RFEC is following all the action procedures established by the UCI for cases like this in order to give full legal guarantees to the different parties affected."