New rules were passed in August 2022 to make it clear that only teams paying the national minimum wage in Spain were going to be able to apply for professional status. The knock-on effect was that non-confirming teams would not be able to be eligible for UCI Continental level and consequently miss out on many of the biggest races in the Spanish women’s cycling calendar. Today, the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) ratified the changes that this eligibility criterion will be postponed until the 2024 season instead of taking effect in 2023.
Of the 8 Spanish Continental teams this season, only 1, Laboral Kutxa was set to meet the arrangement. They have secured a lot more funding from 2023 and have announced the signing of Eider Merino today. The only other team said to be in a strong enough position to meet them is the newly assembled Catalan team run by Manel Lacambra. The other 7 Spanish Continental teams – Bizkaia-Durango, Eneicat, Farto-BTC, Massi-Tactic, Rio Miera-Cantabria Deporte, Soltec and Sopela – were struggling to meet the new rule by the 2023 season. For most of the teams, extra funding between €50-200k was needed to meet their obligations. Spain’s only Women’s WorldTour team, Movistar, is unaffected as they must already meet higher minimum wages as one of their WWT obligations.
During October, the teams gave feedback to the RFEC and in a meeting held last Monday, the postponement was confirmed.
“We listened to the views of the women’s teams and asked them to send us a letter with an approach [of the conditions for the 2023 and subsequent seasons] to study it. The teams told us that they accepted all the conditions already in 2023, except for those related to employment contracts.
Yesterday, Saturday, in a new meeting, the eight members of the CCP decided to approve and put into force the approach of the teams.”José Luis López Cerrón, president of the RFEC
Race organisers are also affected by these changes. One of the new regulations stipulated that all of the Spanish Continental teams were to be invited to the non-WWT Spanish races. Due to the postponement of the ‘professionalism’ move, race organisers will be able to invite foreign teams ahead of Spanish ones for the time being.