November 13, 2009 (Costa Rica) – La Ruta de los Conquistadores, the well known four-day MTB stage race, is butting heads with the Costa Rican Cycling Federation (FECOCI) over a number of issues including the UCI-sanctioning of the race that’s running this week, November 11-14.
Roman Urbina, founder and owner of the race, criticized the Federation for charging too much money for sanctioning the event, considering what the race and racers receive in return. FECOCI responded by threatening to revoke the race’s UCI sanctioning and also drew the organizer’s and racers’attention, by turning to the UCI rulebook, which states licensed racers are prohibited from competing in unsanctioned competitions.
Not only this, but licensed competitors who break the rule could be slapped with up to a one-month suspension from competition and a fine of 50 to 100 Swiss Francs. Pedal went to the source and asked La Ruta’s front man, Urbina, to clarify his position: “We decided not to be part of the UCI or FECOCI. It’s not true that they took our permission, the fact is that we did not want a corrupt Federation to oversee our race,” said Urbina.
He went on to point out that La Ruta is a very unique race that cannot conform to all of the UCI standards, considering its nature as more of an adventure race than an XC stage race. Urbina emphasized that most of the big mountain bike epic stages, such as TransRockies, TransAlp, and the Breck Epic are also unsanctioned. FECOCI required a large chunk of cash for its sanctioning ($5,895 US) and refereeing services ($3,000 US), yet Urbina claimed he never saw equivalent returns in the past, such as in the refereeing department when many racers received prohibited outside support during the race, and other “inconsistencies” that were never addressed by the FECOCI officials overseeing the race.
“The race lives on and it will get stronger than ever,” said Urbina. After Urbina discovered a rampant credit card fraud operation running out of La Ruta’s offices last year, he decided to clean house and take back the race he founded 17 years ago. He fired all of his staff and stepped back into the main organizing role, rebuilding his legacy and paying back customers who had been double- and triple-charged on their credit cards. “After having lived through a corrupt management, I have decided to clean the house in all respects. I will not accept fraudulent practices anymore.”
FECOCI responded to Urbina’s decision not to pay the UCI sanctioning fees and accusations with regards to the Costa Rican cycling governing body’s alleged incompetence and corruption with a 33-point rebuttal, which can be found here (PDF document in Spanish). Read the document in English here (PDF document, English translation).
Among the 33 points, FECOCI takes a very defensive stance to Urbina’s claims and turns the tables to accuse him of stating inaccuracies about the Federation, which require clarification. FECOCI draws attention to the fact that La Ruta is a for-profit company, seeking financial gain and that the race is in infraction of many UCI rules. FECOCI also calls Urbina’s claims: “lies and baseless accusations,” and goes to say his comments against the Federation and its officials promote hate, resentment and are libelous.