British World Masters Downhill champion, Nigel Page, has had his title taken away by cycling’s governing body the UCI.
Page, currently team manager for the Team Chain Reaction Cycles / Intense racing outfit, had been registered as a trade team 4-Cross rider in order to compete in the 4-Cross World Cup, but his pro status in this discipline rendered him ineligible to compete in the UCI World Masters Downhill competition.
The rules which govern eligibility state clearly that any rider who during the current year has been a member of a team registered with the UCI is not permitted to take part in mountain bike events on the UCI international Masters calendar. While this alone would be grounds for Page to lose his title, speaking exclusively to BikeRadar, Peter van den Abeele the UCI’s mountain biking sports co-ordinator said that in Page’s case there appeared to be another problem :
“If this rider had a Masters licence but went on to score points in a UCI ranking event then that would effectively invalidate his Masters licence. Nigel Page had a UCI ranking of 388 which means he had competed and scored points in such an event and this should have excluded him from competing in the World Championship Downhill Masters. In the past some riders have tried to sneak into events past the UCI's commissaries, but for example an Elite rider in one discipline cannot suddenly start riding in a Masters event in another just because he has turned 30.”
Mr van den Abeele did not hold out much prospect for a successful appeal against the ruling, while acknowledging that the UCI’s own commissaires should have spotted that there was a problem before Page was admitted to the event. It therefore appears that the title will now be awarded to Frenchman Christian Taillefer.
Speaking to BikeRadar on his return to the
He was surprised to learn that, according to the UCI, he has earned ranking points this year, maintaining that he has not competed in any event which for which point were available.
"It's the first I've heard of it," he said. “There is no way I would have put in all that training and gone to all that expense of going to France to compete if I hadn’t believed I was fully eligible.”