Anyone hoping for a swift or amicable resolution to the Cian Uijtdebroeks transfer saga looks like they’re set for disappointment, with the UCI listing the rider on its website as a Bora-Hansgrohe rider for the 2024 season.
This wouldn’t ordinarily be newsworthy, seeing as he has a contract with the German team until the end of 2024 – were it not for the fact that both he and Jumbo-Visma believe that he has switched teams.
Confusing? Yeah, a bit. To briefly recap:
- Uijtdebroeks showed his considerable promise this season with a top-10 finish in several WorldTour races, including the Vuelta a España, attracting interest from Jumbo-Visma (next year, Visma – Lease-a-Bike)
- The young Belgian reportedly unilaterally dissolved his Bora-Hansgrohe contract in preparation for a much more lucrative shift to the Buzzy Bois
- Bora-Hansgrohe said “uh, no” about an hour later
- The UCI issued a statement saying that it was “monitoring the situation and emphasizes that the applicable rules will be enforced” (such as: the UCI must be informed of and approve all transfers before a contract concludes)
- Allegations surfaced that Uijtdebroeks had been bullied at Bora-Hansgrohe
- Bora-Hansgrohe denied this was the case
- Several other cycling teams were deeply aggrieved at the fact that Visma would sign a rider who was contracted elsewhere, especially seeing as the team boss, Richard Plugge, is head of the team representative body (the AIGCP) and supposed to be protecting the interests of those teams rather than flagrantly breaching etiquette and contract law
- Undeterred, Uijtedebroeks turned up in blank kit to a Visma training camp where he was followed around by breathless Belgian cycling paparazzi.
Which leads us, more or less, up to today: when attentive observers on social media noticed that Uijtebroeks had just been registered on the UCI website as a Bora-Hansgrohe rider for 2024. That’s intriguing for all the reasons listed above, but also because of further reporting suggesting that the case is still being studied by the UCI’s legal department. “Only when they have completed their work can [the transfer] be submitted to me for signature,” said the UCI Professional Cycling Council (PCC) president Tom Van Damme.
That suggests that the legal wranglings are particularly complicated, because, according to Cyclingnews, the PCC met last week prior to the annual UCI WorldTour Seminar, and should have been able to greenlight the transfer then. Any bullying claims or Bora-Hansgrohe buyout are, according to Het Laatste Nieuws, not a factor in the contract dispute, and would instead be presented to the UCI disciplinary committee. “These facts must then be presented to the disciplinary committee,” Van Damme said. “But did Uijtdebroeks report this himself? I do not know.”
All of which means that, a week out from the end of the year, a talented young Belgian, his management, and Visma-Lease-a-Bike believe that he has joined them for 2024, while he is simultaneously still contracted to Bora-Hansgrohe in the eyes of both that team and the UCI. Two different departments of the UCI – the PCC and the notoriously slow-moving disciplinary committee – also have to line up their schedules to push this thing over the line or block it once and for all.
The final cherry on top: on Thursday in Amsterdam, Visma will be presenting its 2024 team (and new kit). Confirmed as being in attendance? Cian Uijtdebroeks.
Not messy at all.
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