January 08, 2004
UCI to finalize division 1, no Kelme?
There is huge concern in Spain that Kelme might fail to fulfil[l] the requirements issued by the UCI to enter the first division and that the long-standing Spanish squad could be ‘relegated’ to division two. Kelme boss Pepe Quiles has told the Spanish press that in this eventuality he will dissolve the team and release the riders from the agreements they have signed.
Today is the January 8 deadline that the UCI set for US Postal, Domina Vacanze, Alessio, Milaneza, and Kelme. Fassa Bortolo was originally among these teams, but was approved December 24th.
Team director Vicente Belda, however, is not hopeful. He told AS: "I fear the worst. The UCI has learned its lesson from cases like Coast and Linda McCartney, and I’m afraid they are going to be inflexible. It’s all the same to them whether we are in the first or second division, all they want to avoid is problems. I know Quiles is ready to dissolve the team and if that happens 40 people will be on the street. Some of them might find a job with a team, Alejandro Valverde and Spanish champion Ruben Plaza for instance, but not many. If the team disappears because of a mix-up over papers someone will be guilty of a mistake. But let’s see if there is a miracle and the UCI takes pity on us, although I fear they won’t."
If Kelme are relegated, the Relax-Bodysol-Fuenlabrada team will replace them in division one.