Interview: Chris Ball, Director of the EWS - 'Why Would We Mess With A Good Thing?'

Jun 22, 2018
by Brian Park  
Chris Ball

Earlier today the EWS and UCI announced an agreement to work together. We sat down with Chris Ball, the Managing Director of the EWS, to get some answers about what this means for the sport and the series.

Thanks for sitting down with us. First off, what, in a nutshell, is the agreement?

Well, it’s a massive step. For the first time we are working in true partnership in the UCI. They’ll benefit from our expertise, and we’ll benefit from their infrastructure and governance.

Ultimately we remain in control of our series. Our structures will remain the same. We will help the UCI write the rulebook for enduro globally, that they can then apply to the wider National Federations.

All the normal criticisms of the UCI—they aren’t on the ground, they don’t get it, etc.—we’ll be there for that now. We have a seat at the mountain bike commission, helping shape the future of the discipline.

We are voluntarily implementing neutral governance, removing ourselves from potential conflicts and ensuring the sport’s fairness. “Did X rider deserve this penalty?” “What’s the fairest process to determine Y?” That’s the crucial aspect for the sport, and that’s what this agreement is about. Sport, fairness, growth.

Another big aspect of this agreement is that the Trophy of Nations changes for 2019. The 3 best riders from every nation based on EWS rankings form a national team. Then, the weekend after final EWS we host the Trophy of Nations race, where riders transcend trade teams and race for their nation. It’s the combined national team times that decide the win. The winning nation gets the rainbow jersey.

For me this signifies what EWS is all about, and the UCI is excited about bringing individuals together as nations. It’s great for federations to boost support, it’s great for fans, and it’s a huge aspect of this agreement for me.The event is still run by us, but now it’s neutral, officially recognized, and has the prestige of the rainbow jersey.
Trophy of Nations

Is it something you can walk away from if things don’t go the way you hope? Or have you in effect signed the series over to the UCI?

We haven’t signed the EWS series over the UCI, and we can walk away if things don’t work out. We’re not selling the sport—we’re actually paying them.

How did this agreement happen? What was the impetus?

We’ve been talking to the UCI since we started the EWS, and since his election David Lappartient has accelerated things.

I’ve lost track of how many versions of an agreement we’ve had over the years. Going back and forth, us reaching understandings about what they need, trying to understand what responsibilities each party should have, and both of us operating at the level we want to.

I think people always assumed we were against the UCI—I’d left the UCI, things went back and forth on enduro, etc., but that’s never been the case. Our policy has been an open door since the beginning, and we always said that when the partnership could work, we want to make it happen. We’ve always done what we feel is best with the sport, and we always said we’d work with the UCI on mutual terms when it was the right thing for the sport

The initial reaction of many is fear that the EWS will take on the perceived negative traits of the UCI. What would you say to those people?

Trust us.

What do you think of the criticism and concerns?

I view people’s concerns as a huge positive. People are rightly concerned about something they care about. We’re on the same page as everyone who doesn’t want to see a good thing ruined; I’d be more worried if people weren’t concerned.

I love the remote, raw, challenging nature of EWS races. What kind of influence will the UCI have over venues going forward?

None. That remains with the EWS. Why would we mess with a good thing?

I can’t think of an instance where UCI works with a league or series on this level. In DH they control a lot more aspects of the discipline. What’s different about the EWS?

It’s definitely a new model for the UCI, and I think it shows a rapid change in the way they work. In every other discipline the UCI runs the show. So this is a new era for the UCI in that regard.

I think with the UCI of past there have been many challenges and rightful criticisms, but there have now been a few presidents who have helped move things forward.

There will be changes to the sport of enduro, but not in the things people are worried about; the trails, the racing, the people that we work with will remain the same. What will improve is the neutrality, the stability, etc. from avoiding sporting and commercial conflicts.

Doping has been a persistent concern among fans, teams, and riders. With the UCI involved now, how does that play out?

Basically WADA has a set of protocols which are linked to federations and foundations in all sport. Years ago the antidoping wing of the UCI split, for neutrality purposes, into something called CADF (Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation). They are tasked with monitoring all UCI cycling disciplines, and EWS will now be one of them.

Testing costs money, and now the next step is to roll out more testing. The EWS will ramp up the amount of tests we pay for, and over the next 3-5 years we’ll dramatically increase our doping controls.

The CADF is the very cutting edge. Cycling has tested more people and caught more people than most other sports, so we’re happy to have access to them now.

Will this agreement change your coverage? Will we see live streams anytime soon?

This agreement is based purely on sport and doesn’t impact our media coverage. In media we’re looking at lots of avenues to improve and expand our coverage year on year—for example our partnership with Pinkbike.

I’m excited about this agreement because it’s going to help the sport grow, and the larger the sport gets, the more we’re able to do. From doping controls, to media coverage, to everything.

Thanks for talking with us!

20 Photos - 20 Stories
Chris Ball showing the racers how it's done.

Chris Ball will be joining us next week for an Ask Me Anything to address questions about their agreement with the UCI and everything else enduro, so get your thinking caps on!


  • 126 4
 "I love the remote, raw, challenging nature of EWS races. What kind of influence will the UCI have over venues going forward?" Chis's answer - "None. That remains with the EWS. Why would we mess with a good thing?"

Well it's the UCI. That is what they do...'mess with a good thing'

Admitted UCI detractor. Down votes coming I know...
  • 112 0
 I don't think anyone on this site likes the UCI.
  • 47 1
 @Clarkeh: The UCI is like The Marines. If it has to be destroyed, give it to the UCI.
  • 30 3
 I agree with your commments 100% but I would suggest to anyone who hasn’t heard the podcast with Martin Whiteley over on that website starting with a V. I think it would be Vital for all commenters to take the time to listen to it to get a better understanding of the UCI. It changed my perspective on the subject. Also if Chris Ball thinks it’s in the EWS interest to partner up with the UCI there must be valid reasons.
  • 10 3
 @Stumpy2: 100% agree, everyone ragging on UCI must listen to the Inside Line podcast with Whitely, you will understand a lot more about UCI DH and why it is the way it is.
  • 29 1
 And if you read Matt Hoffmans letter about the UCI, you will remember they are nothing but sell out c*nts.
  • 9 1
 @Clarkeh: I'm with you on this one.

Hey Pinkbike, can we do a Poll on this - for or against UCI.

For the record, I'm not cool with it. You would likely have been better to sign a contract with Pizza Hut, at least they wouldn't try to control everything.... except the pizza, and that's completely fine.
  • 19 0
 @Waldon83: as a person, who used to live in Italy for quite a while, I have to protest strongly about a contract with Pizza Hut! They don't sell pizza, they sell dough with something undefinable on it... Big Grin
  • 2 0
 UCI has such a bad reputation from the moment it was run by the english guy who made it a corporate operation.
  • 7 0
 @Clarkeh: Thanks for posting that bro
  • 8 0
 @Stumpy2: I have heard Martin's interview a week ago. My position on the UCI hasn't changed yet
  • 13 1
 Thing is, if youre a prick for decades, you cant just become a nice guy and change everyones opinion of you overnight. If theyre improving, great, lets see how it turns out in five years.
  • 2 4
 @Stumpy2: THANK YOU. It's ridiculous to criticize without truly understanding the nature of the business and the decision making rationale.
  • 6 0
 @eurojuice: given that Chris Ball has worked for the UCI before and has done a wonderful job with EWS I think it’s safe to say he knows what he is doing. Dare I say it, he may even teach the UCI a thing or two.
  • 1 0
 @Stumpy2: You realize I was agreeing with you, right?
  • 2 0
 @omegalung: yes, although the Marines don't use nasty chemical and biological warfare...
  • 1 0
 @eurojuice: oh yes definitely. I was just agreeing and adding some more thought to our conversation.
  • 102 7
 Now where to put all that internet rage from 3 hours ago....
  • 46 8
 They'll go back to virtue signaling on Facebook/Twitter, and angrily punishing their weasels on pornhub.
  • 8 0
 @Session603: my only confusion is: there's going to be three world champs each year? seems weird.
  • 2 0
 @cuban-b: That is weird to me as well.
  • 10 0
 @Session603: punishing weasels...
  • 3 0
 are there other sporting federations that govern multiple disciplines that are a better to model after? does the fim do a good job? is ball saying uci has been an administrative problem and not a legislative one?
  • 7 0
 @cuban-b: it's a really, really, old idea. MXdN
  • 2 0
 @cuban-b: It takes FIFA 4 four years to sort out 1.... You can`t say cycling isnt progressiveWink
  • 1 2
 The girls are getting excited.
  • 1 0
 @Session603: You Sir are fuc*ing funny!
  • 1 0
 @cuban-b: I think it's separate from the individual side. The overall will still be decided in points fashion but there isn't a single "world championships" like in DH. Just the overall and Parade of Nations
  • 1 1
 Chris got Balls but it takes alot more than that.
  • 3 1
 Sounds like UCI is adapting for the better.
  • 57 0
 Unpopular opinion: a few EWS dudes are gonna either 1) fall off the map completely results-wise, or 2) test hot for doping.
  • 12 0
 Absolutely. However, the best riders will likely continue doping and stay ahead of the curve. It's pretty much always been that way, they catch a few people, but most dopers are unperturbed by the tests.
  • 14 1
 I think we saw that earlier this year with some 'slow starts' as rumors swirled of doping tests...
  • 6 0
 Some say Lance Armstrong hasn't put down his phone yet since yesterday.
  • 4 1
 The winners were always tested...
  • 4 0
 @fussylou: And lots of "winners" beat the tests also.....
  • 2 0
 They will test, but they will only get lower tier riders who do not have the money and support to test clean. Look up the documentary Icarus. Doping and cylcling go hand in hand at the top level. They all just know how to test clean.
  • 4 0
 The EWS has been doing doping controls/checks at various events for a few years now. At the last round in France Richie Rude, Adrorn Dailly, Greg Callaghan plus a few rndims were all tested, and have been tested many times before.

There seems to be this unfounded conspiracyiving on line that there must be a doping problem with some EWS riders, but this is unfounded when based on facts and reality.
  • 1 0
 @DLuke14: read the caption

Then rethink where you are getting your version of the facts
  • 2 1
 @DLuke14: There will always be guys that look for the edge. But remember it's very costly, beyond EWS pay scale costly to take on a systematic program. Tyler Hamilton said it cost him 40-70K per year in early 2000 dollars for his program. Mind you that includes a doctor that won't speak haha
  • 53 3
 Never trust anyone who says "Trust us".
  • 7 1
 Thank you. Glad I’m not the only one that comment didn’t sit well with
  • 8 1
 ditto. Trust me, I love my new mercedes
  • 23 5
 Chris Ball is worthy of our trust. Awesome dude
  • 1 4
  • 3 0
 Unless it's Chris Ball
  • 34 1
 Reading through that looking for the benefits of working with the UCI and I still don't really see or hear them, either they are unclear or it still feels like we don't need the UCI to achieve them, It would be great if someone could actually explain what the claimed benefits of working with the UCI mean:

'What will improve is the neutrality, the stability, etc. from avoiding sporting and commercial conflicts' - This doesn't sound like a benefit in any way, in what way is the EWS not neutral? In what way is it not already stable? It seems pretty popular to me?!

'we’ll benefit from their infrastructure and governance' - how? What is their infrastructure that will help us and in what way will their governance help?

We are voluntarily implementing neutral governance, removing ourselves from potential conflicts and ensuring the sport’s fairness. “Did X rider deserve this penalty?” “What’s the fairest process to determine Y?” That’s the crucial aspect for the sport, and that’s what this agreement is about. Sport, fairness, growth. - Why is this not possible to be governed by the EWS community in some way already?

We will get a EWS world champs - This sounds like the only genuine bonus, people get to race for national pride. Is it worth the (poison chalice?) relationship...?
  • 17 0
 In all honesty, what I'm getting from this thus far is: UCI has the funds and infrastructure already in place for a more robust anti-doping system which the EWS is going to have access to. I'd imagine that having the UCI as a partner will make the EWS appear more "legitimate" than they currently do, and make it easier to bring in more big money sponsors/coverage in order to expand the sport.

Granted, this is through some rosey red lenses, and I have some serious doubts if it'll pan out while dodging all of the negative bullshit that will undoubtedly come with it.
  • 7 1
 Yeah, I didn't read anything in the interview that sounded like a benefit to EWS. I'm willing to be convinced but as of yet nothing concrete sounds like a benefit. Overall, I don't think the UCI has a positive influence on mountain bikers. With that said, much respect to Chris Ball despite disagreeing with this decision.
  • 1 3
 Amin EWS! Sounds like someone from EWS Director's board must be fired now...
  • 8 2
 "Trust us".

Not good enough.
  • 9 5
 @ajayflex: If you knew Chris, it would be.
  • 6 1
 @sourmix: yeah well, forgive me (us) if I'm sceptical about the UCIs involvement
  • 4 5
 @ajayflex: Wasn't meant to be a diss and of course scepticism is fair enough but I just meant, knowing the guy a little, I think he can be trusted.
  • 5 0
 'What will improve is the neutrality, the stability, etc. from avoiding sporting and commercial conflicts'

The UCI I know and facetiously love is known for doing the complete opposite of this. This years start order stupidity on the DH world cup is a perfect example.

The UCI doesn't have good solutions to these problems. Call me a cynic but you know how I can tell if a professional road cyclist is doping? They're winning.

I still tell myself the UCI DH world cup doesn't have these problems, but after a few odd timing gaps on certain courses this year I'm not so sure. It's getting to the point where I don't like watching racing at all, and prefer to see someone's personal edits and go pro footage.
  • 6 0
 @ajayflex: Always a red flag when someone simplicity states that something or someone is worthy of trust. If it were true it would literally go without saying. Not meaning to disparage Chris either. I don't envy him his position right now and I don't personally know him. I also don't have all the details on the situation or years past...BUT, the imperative to trust is always a cause for concern.
  • 3 0

kinda like when an acquaintance tells you they have a “legitimate” business opportunity they’d like to tell you about. Immediate disqualifier right there.
  • 5 2
 Look, Chris isn't daft by any means. How about this... 1. UCI's new Chairman fella was talking about an Enduro competition, this prevents them trying to colonise the sport. 2. EWS gets a few bells and whistles in terms of infrastructure and governance that will allow them to focus on development. 3. EWS get a little more commercial leverage as the 'official' world competition. 4. EWS gets a seat on the UCI mountain biking council. That, for me, is a big deal because the like of the downhill world cup organizers now have to follow EWS in explaining what they're doing to develop their discipline, and all the national bodies have to explain what they're doing to support enduro as a sport. So I'd say you get EWS influencing - and I suspect driving - MTB's development. Let's just hope that's how it pans out.
  • 2 2
 @AlexSplode: Take off your rose coloured glasses.
  • 27 1
 I'm still struggling to see the positive here. More doping control, I guess that's good, but the UCI has been comically terrible at catching dopers. The trophy of Nations sounds mildly interesting, but I don't see why the UCI would need to be involved. Beyond that, uh, governance, I guess? You mean that part where they suck at everything, everybody hates them and interest in the sport at a professional level seems to be evaporating? That also sounds slightly less than good.
  • 19 1
 The UCI doesnt catch dopers.... WADA does... they are WADA members, and through CADF, now EWS has access to doping controls... cycling as a sport is actually gotten REALLY good at catching dopers in the last decade... what Chris means by "governance" is basically organizing rules and enforcement... the UCI are essentially refs... and i can tell you that sports need refs...

from my perspective i can only see this is as a good way to sustain the future of the EWS.... and honestly its really the only practical solution....

i was an amateur rider in europe and a pro in the 2000's and i can tell you that it was harder than it needed to be to win a race back then... if EWS is growing without doping controls i would hate to be a young rider hoping to be at the top..... I also organized races and am founding member of CES doing work every week to tackle the issues chris is focused on as his main job, and getting that governance support is something that is sorely needed, and its something that the riders expect and deserve...
  • 11 5
 @eriksaun: how is doping really gonna help, and if people lose theyre livelyhoods over reactionary ad uneducated doping controls - well...

Doping control is good. It needs to be there. However -WADA is fanatical. Trace amounts of substances tha couldnt impact performance are resulting in multi year bans- that isnt good for any sport.

If WADA bans a rider for synepherine in an allergy medication and considers it performance enhancing then they have no business testing.

EPO, test and other hormones, sure.

But like froome - banned from using albuterol. Show me studies backing the performance enhancement of a beta agonist that raises heart rate and is a mild bronchiadialator and Ill say sure - wreck his career.

Just wait till mountain bikers cant smoke weed... EWS gonna be over.
  • 4 0
 @eriksaun: the UCI has a long history of allowing doped up athletes to compete anyway, or mysterious,y throw out positive tests. Remember the Armstrong era? When they simply ignored doping so that they could claim they'd fixed the last doping epidemic? I have no doubts that the same thing is going on at a lesser level today in other disciplines, and if big money ever comes back to MTB racing, it will effect the knobby tired disciplines the shame way. EWS doesn't need UCI to get access to WADA, they'll work with any sanction that wants their help.

As for the governence, and how it relates to rule creation and enforcement, again, the UCI has a nearly perfect tract record of making utterly terrible decisions.
  • 11 1
 i guess in my experience in the sport i do not see the doping controls as over reactionary or uneducated... the days of ramming your arm full of nandrolone and speedballs are over.... virtually all doping now is done in trace amounts... i f you really need explanation of how typical asthma medications can enhance performance, its out there... in Froome's specific case he knew how much salbutamol he could piss, and he pissed twice as much... so i dont know how much more there is to say about that... I am not a rider or director at that level for a long time now, but i dont think that synephrine is a banned substance... but if it is, it is... part of this also has to do with the health of the riders... and this to me is important as a father and an athlete.... you can put an unhealthy player on the field with a cortisone shot like in the old days... but if the player needs one to play, he shouldn't be playing in the first place.... if you need like 50 hits on your inhaler, and you respect clean sport, then maybe you need to sit the bench and do the right thing for your health, and for the kids... or maybe you just take the L like a hero instead of sucking up all that salbutamol that you know is on the banned list in high doses...
  • 2 2
 @maxyedor: i think you really need to go back and do some home work on that one... of course we know that the UCI had a MAJOR issue on doping, as did then FIAC before them... but so too did virtually all sports federations... i can tell you some great stories of tests i have taken where the minders created little opportunities for me to cheat the test... so i get it... but that doesnt mean all of it is bad and not worth anything... it just means there are problems that need to be worked out, and i think the progress made since those days has been HUGE... i think you also need to rethink the idea that the UCI basically screw up governance... there are what- 100's if not over 1000 of race days each year in the UCI calendar and they all go off year in and year out with minimal fuss and confusion... i would call that a near perfect track record to be honest... thats what we are talking about... have you ever put together even one day of racing? do you know what that it takes? its not easy man... how many ppl do you think work at EWS?
  • 7 0
 How much more are the entry fees going to go up to pay for all the testing, and is that going to force out privateers?
  • 3 0
 @eriksaun: The major difference is that other sports federations didn't put up the same facade as UCI. They had rampant doping and simply didn't care, UCI had rampant doping while enacting "strict anti doping measures". If you were presented opportunities to skirt doping regulations, then IMHO, there are no doping regulations. I have the same criticism when it comes to the IOC, when there are well known, and gaping holes in your anti doping protocols, you don't get to prattle on about clean sport and I don't recognize the federation's involvement as a good sign for anti doping.

As for managing the races, okay, I guess you can count that as a win for UCI. However, hasn't EWS been pretty damn good at that all along? Hosting races that are arguably every bit as complex as anything on the UCI calendar, in Countries that are far more difficult to work in. I don't see what the addition of the UCI brings to the table. Local event organizers will always be the most important part of putting on an event, something EWS will still have to source outside of UCI.

Not saying you have to agree with my opinion, I've been involved with and a fan of professional cycling for decades and have yet to see UCI bring much of anything to the table that couldn't be accomplished just as well without them.
  • 2 0
 @eriksaun: Albuterol that is showing high doses in testing isn't being taken from an inhaler for asthma (yes he might have a script to hide it), but it is being taking in pill form. It is one of the most popular and abused steroids in endurance sports.
  • 2 0
 @Clifflane3: of course thats what some ppl say, but SKY says its from extra puffs... i think we are on the same page, the rules are the rules and the levels are set based on accepted best practices in the field... bottom line is 2X the limit is no good...
  • 1 0
 @eriksaun: Totally agree, Froome´s case stinks from soooo far away!Now UCI&WADA let junk&unhealthy people to take part of the top. One frenchy road rider,I can´t remember the name,talks about this,saying almost every other rider in the TOUR has an illness of some kind,most of them needs a good amount of drugs to ride. Then,we have like 200 addict riders taking an incredible amount an all kinds of drugs. This is ridiculous.
  • 2 0
 @homerjm: I remember that. The joke in my day was that you give your life to the sport and are left with nothing. The only applicable skills you have after allow you to become a team director, or a pharmacist. I never gained the skills to become a pharmacist, but I was a team director.... Ha... It's amazing the number of asthmatics in high level sport in those days... If there isn't a system in place to compliment what I believe is a strong culture against doping in enduro there is not much to stop the riders from suddenly realizing that breathing all that Chilean anti-grip is giving then problems breathing...
  • 1 0
 @eriksaun: there are some people around thew world who cheat and pay for it.They change his mind starting from 0 . Most of them go to local college to get a study and check the guy/lady to be 100% clean almost every week or every few days. I think that is the only way any sport can be 100% clean,and I´m saying clean 100%,not "legally clean" like right now.
  • 25 0
 "The initial reaction of many is fear that the EWS will take on the perceived negative traits of the UCI. What would you say to those people? Answer from Chris - "Trust us."

Sorry Chris, move of us love what you and your team have created in the EWS. However, almost NONE of us trust the UCI in almost any regard.
  • 16 1
 Yeah, we can trust him all we want.
The fact remains the UCI isn´t doing this to take part, they do it to take over.
If Mr. Ball thinks otherwise he´s delusional.
The scale of magnitude we´re talking here is like google buying some up and coming startup just to let them go about their business as usual without any interruption at all.
Never gonna happen.
Within time, growth will be expected. Media rights will be sold and venues "adjusted" accordingly.
We´ve all seen downhill head down a dark road this year with the Red Bull 3 minute media limitation. I expect nothing less for EWS.
  • 3 0
 I realy don't get it... why is all of this UCI partnership junk, who the f@ck need those jerks aound. EWS is getting better and better and made it up to a point where UCI wants to rule-ruine all the awesomeness. Punish the whores!
  • 2 4
 @Loki87: Dude, DH is getting BETTER. Finally a proper title sponsor: Mercedes. Big sponsors brings money and growth. It's a business first and foremost and always has been. That's how riders get paid a proper salary for the sacrifice and risk they take to compete at this level. Again, listen to the Martin Whitely podcast to get educated.
  • 3 0
 @eurojuice: A proper title sponsor is great and will definitely bring needed attention. However, how much of that $$ goes to the riders? I would be very interested in seeing a breakdown of payouts of the last say 8 years for the World Cups. From my understanding and experience, the pros sponsors themselves pay them, not the UCI. Are the payouts going up? If Mercedes is putting real money in, will UCI reduce the lavish fees and accommodation requirements they demand of a resort/venue? I know a few folks in the resort business here in Colorado and the consensus is the UCI 'cost' for hosting a WC race is laughable. Resorts/venues here don't really need exposure, snow season brings in the $$. Any summer income is just gravy and can even run a a loss often.

I have listened to Martin's interview twice. Very insightful and loads of respect to what he has built over the years. However, UCI has a proven track record of neglecting cycling disciplines that are not road racing while over regulating or removing the true spirit of an discipline once they come on board. A recent example:
Much has been said of the logistics of a DH race for example (track prep, camera /live, feeds, grandstands, video screens) and then in the same breath they axed 4X /Slalom because is was too difficult? The entire course can be seen with half the cameras, every race has fans lining the course and a fan favorite.

Most of us here are not discounting the complexities of putting on a race, a series or governance (promoters usually do the event-specific grunt work BTW). However, UCI looks at MTB as a step child. The largest perception is EWS created it's own product, developed a market and created the value, UCI is coming in to leech off of it.
Rant over
  • 2 0
 @bman33: Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Yeah, it would be good to understand the total picture. I would guess that mainstream title sponsors bring a level of cache, cross-market exposure, and credibility that can help rider sponsors sell more stuff. Greater profitability of a race team allows riders to negotiate more lucrative contracts. But I would also guess it needs to be a bit more like NASCAR where the riders also have mainstream sponsors. Brendog would make way more money wearing Lululemon in the pits getting WynTV coverage than he would throwing whips with his new DMR bars. Anyway, the business model has opportunities to be improved UCI or not. That is a good thing: not being maxed out on potential.
  • 2 0
That is all well and good,but the fact remains that dh for the fans and as a sport is changing because of the UCIs decisions. I'm the last to discount the money influx the higher exposure can create but in the end,as bman33 said,it matters where that money ends up. I've yet to see a rider with a Mercedes sponsoring, so as it stands the biggest beneficiary is the UCI themselves. All the while coverage for fans has been massively cut down due to Red Bull media limitations, we get less races every year and it's more of a european championship than a real worldcup when you consider the venues. So if there's that much influx of money they better get crackin and show us what they're getting paid to do or we have to assume they just stash the cash and put it into different disciplines.
So yeah, from my perspective dh is going down the drain in more than a few ways. That is not a one way street though and of course there have also been improvements, i'm not denying that. But to stop calling out existing problems because they did something else right isn't helping anyone.
  • 4 0
 @Loki87: as a note, I do feel the talent and field depth is better than it ever hss been since the 90's. Maybe better
  • 3 0
No question about that.
However i´d say that is down to accessibility aspects which have grown massively in recent years. We got cheaper and more reliable bikes as well as a huge increase in bikeparks being built, all resulting in much better conditions for talent to flow into the sport and grow. Also much bigger exposure in mainstream media, but that is more due to Red Bull and i do consider bringing them onboard not an achievement of the UCI. RB does what they want to do and scout their own sponsorships/media interests. That´s not an acomplishment of the UCI. On the contrary, they have made it hard for privateers to promote themselves and get support due to helmet cam limitations and cutting the rider field for finals. While of course endless debates can be had about these changes, and i´m definitely not saying they´re completely stupid, they have had the effects i´ve described, therefore doing the opposite of what the UCI should be doing.
IMHO what you´re saying is more like the sport is growing DESPITE the UCI's best efforts to kill it off. Which of course is a great thing in and of itself, but doesn´t really shine a good light on the UCI either Wink
  • 15 0
 "...and we’ll benefit from their infrastructure and governance." Last I checked the VAST majority of cyclists despise the 'governance' of the UCI and their basic theft of funds and soul from all non-road disciplines. BMX in particular here in the US over the last few years has been sterilized and stunted by the UCI/USABMX monster.
  • 3 0
 What's going on with there? I'm off the back on BMX racing.
  • 9 0
 @brianpark: Ridership is down, over regulation, sterilization/homogenization of tracks the push for all supercross style tracks, abysmal payout to pros, over emphasis on national races. If you want to dive into a bit more, check out Colin Stiles podcast 'Rail the Berm' and a few others like it.
  • 4 0
 @bman33: a lot of that is usabmx - but yeah. They pulled the plug on the rowdy bmx i grew up with
  • 3 0
 Absolute truth. My son races so I don’t know how things used to be but USABMX is nothing more than a money making machine. They do zilch to help local tracks, all they are concerned with is making money off Grands and nationals.
  • 2 5
 @hetfield1: BMX riders, youth participants, and grassroots level competition has increased dramatically in Asia by almost threefold since the beginning of this decade. IMHO, the problem is with your local federation and not the UCI.
  • 4 0
 @Verbl-Kint: Great for Asia. Ours was fine until the UCi partnership with out league. Asia had minimal BMX compared to the US so they had lots of room for growth.
  • 4 0
 @Verbl-Kint: and what did UCI help do with grassroots BMX in Asia? They do zero for us here in the USA, except partner up with USABMX and raid the pockets of parents.
  • 14 0
 My speculation: UCI was in discussions to start a competing enduro series, Chris Ball/EWS caught wind of it and decided to go into a "partnership" to avoid competition between a UCI Enduro and the EWS. Otherwise I don't see what EWS benefits from this, especially if they are paying the UCI.
  • 2 0
 Anyone (insiders) knowing more about the reasons? This sounds like a very plausible reason....
  • 2 0
 This is the best (most plausible) answer I've heard. UCI does have the size and money to go ahead and create their own Enduro series, which would have left EWS out to dry, because all the sponsors (those who pay the top pros) want UCI oversight as it's looked at as the 'official' governing body. Naturally all the top pros, and media coverage, would have followed to the UCI series instead of the EWS. If this is the case, EWS/Chris had absolutely no choice but to partner with the UCI, and were essentially backed in a corner.
  • 19 3
 Future pinkbike topic, "How Chris Ball killed Enduro."
  • 8 1
 By starting an emtb enduro series, that will be a sad day
  • 12 1
 Maybe this should have been released with the press statement instead of hours later? Would have saved us keyboard warriors from loosing it straight away.
  • 3 0
 Maybe it would've meant something to you, but I'd bet solid money there still would've been ample rage. The only way Mr. Ball could've infuriated the PB audience more is if he said he was partnering with Daniel Defense.
  • 10 0
 More clicks generated this way Wink
  • 1 0
 hey man, at least we got it same day instead of days apart.
  • 13 0
 "We're actually paying them." Big surprise there!
  • 10 0
 Yup! EWS becoming more and more popular, and the UCI wants a piece of that pie.
  • 2 0
 @ernvil: ????????????????That’s the point!
  • 9 1
 People saying all kinds of bad things about the UCI makes me wonder: Who else would put up credible world cups and world championships in the last 28 years? Is there an alternative governing body?
Yeah,EWS works about perfect,but for XC, DH I don't see any alternatives.
When UCI dropped 4X everybody said it would be better off without UCI, well is it now?
  • 3 0
 Just because there isn't other options doesn't make the one we have good.
  • 4 0
 Is Crankworx governed by the UCI? seems like they've been putting on credible racing and freestyle events in spectator friendly, well covered events for a while now, with real pro purses for the riders in events that look like good fun.
  • 13 2
 Well that was some quick damage control.
  • 8 0
 That interview was planned. Guaranteed.
  • 11 0
 In the woods Freeride is alive and well, and that all that really matters.
  • 1 0
  • 3 0
 Seriously, most not too concerned with rainbow jerseys or battles between nations-didnt work for surfing, skateboarding, the motocross de nations not huge anymore. these are not really team sports-other than nica ages.
  • 7 1
 Listened to a few podcasts with Chris on, he worked at the UCI for a number of years, was fundamental in introducing the junior category to DH and was working on implementing Enduro at the UCI up the point he left. Call me naieve, but he knows the score better then the vast majority of us, having worked in the gravity sports division previously & knows where this fits in with his aspirations and intentions.
  • 8 1
 His mission was to launch Enduro at a world cup level, uci at the time were dragging there feet he left to form ews to catch the wave. He returns to the uci with more power which can only do mtb good long term.
  • 10 1
 if it aint broke, dont make it broke
  • 3 0
 Fix it 'til it is.
  • 5 0
 Sounds to me like the ews has a doping problem not all of its stakeholders want to see fixed. Bringing in a third party with no skin in the game and massive testing resources isn't a bad idea in that case. Certainly better than letting it get out of control.
  • 3 1
 the idea that doping is an issue is laugable, anyone who thinks otherwise must not know how much that shit costs. its not a matter of buying some bootleg Thailand roids and sticking a needle in your butt, takes months regimented usage of extremely expensive products with the help of an equally expensive physician. these guys are racing for $1000 checks, factor in travel/training costs and even if you have sponsors matching winnings you are barely making rent if that, not alot left to be dropping 10s of thousands on drugs every year. People forget that overall MTB racing is a small scene and Enduro is a very small part of that. I'm sure a few guys are taking Adderall and stuff like that, but there just isn't enough at stake for the benefits to outweigh the consequences. I spent a good bit of time racing Pro alongside alot of EWS guys and the only questionable substances I saw consumed were vape pens and trail beers.
  • 1 0
 @jmrbauer: - Ultimately it's about sponsor dollars and guarantees. If sponsors are the ones laying the money on the line, they probably see UCI as the most credible governing body; and I don't mean just anti-doping....but in terms of global coverage with saying "World Champion" and rainbow jerseys, UCI points, etc. It's a package deal: UCI is the top body and only one recognized by IOC for uniformity sake.
  • 5 0
 This is a standard wrap and play business project now. How do we add value over 5 year exit play?. 1) seek endorsement or infrastucture alliances with larger competitor, that addresses large bike manufacturers and teams desires to have investment and athletes success marketable in advertisment with governing body. 2) maintain present independance while point 1 realises step change enterprise value differential over present. 3) prepare and implement exit plan, while retaining interest, management and revenue streams to listed entity. Will be rolled into a rights based private equity play inside 5 years.
  • 6 0
 That's a far better scenario that I had thought it would be, but I am still suspicious. UCI are just so damn good at ruining things.
  • 7 2
 i think the UCI is really good at one thing. making sure the tour de france remains the preeminent event in professional cycling. if you see it from this perspective, everything the UCI does actually makes sense.
  • 3 0
 road racing is a vast monster much more then just tdf. I hope that Chris ball has the leverage to move mtb in the direction he wanted before quitting uci to start ews. To the racer on the ground in ews events you will see no change just a clearer progression to there highest events.
  • 4 0
 Wait, so EWS is paying the UCI? Sounds like the UCI said pay up or we crush you and rather than fight it they took the path of least resistance. Not that I blame him. At the end of the day the bureaucracy grows bigger and the number of people collecting fat checks off of cycling while not really adding anything to it grows. I’ll be riding my bike in the woods and e-bikes will kill it all.
  • 3 1
 "I’ll be riding my bike in the woods and e-bikes will kill it all."
Enjoy it while you can. Traditional MTB trail riding is going to crash and burn as we know it in less than 20 years. Even trail riding today on the same trails that existing 20 years ago doesn't feel the same - too commercialized. Advocates, bureaucrats, lobbyists, manufacturers, etc, are all hellbent on the accessibility narrative: neuter trails, control access, e-bikes for everyone and their mother.

The days of where only the tough were rewarded for trekking several hours in an isolated forest for a big payoff will be long gone. We'll all be zipping around on smooth gravel roads through the woods side-by-side with elders and little children on powered bikes. All the tech stuff will be hidden behind paywalls on private lands and at bike parks.
  • 2 0
 @Jamminator: couldn’t agree more with you brother.
  • 5 0
 meh...i liked the fact that the uci wasn't involved. Lame I couldn't care less about making the sport more legitimate, what was legitimate was the grassroots vibe of the ews
  • 3 0
 [disclaimer: former USAC official, local association officer, and mid-pack XC racer]

there's a handful of salt being taken here with EWS, but given the changes in other disciplines that started to happen when McQuad was ousted at UCI (leading to the wave of changes that ousted Cookson recently), there exists what i consider a pretty good chance the partnership will elevate EWS. Bringing the legitimacy of the recognized sanctioning body and Olympic federation to EWS could really contribute to the professionalism of the sport.

although like any referees there are instances of bad calls, the impartiality that is inherent in officiation by a sanctioning body like the UCI definitely overcomes any potential conflicts of interest that can arise between sponsors and the events/organization. that means when you crown someone a world champion, their results can be certified by the most reputable record-keepers in the sport as being accurate. that's not nothing.

all the weed smokers don't have to worry, because the tests for stuff like THC generally only get a hit if you're actively ripping bongs in between stages. i guess this actually happens, but intoxicated participants are a f*cking administrative nightmare that *any* organization worth it's salt should be prohibiting. Hollywood is the only person i know about to get a guilty verdict for THC, but that dude is always high.

time will tell if Bell can keep it together without sanitization. that's kind of the ultimate end for any sport that expects progress, though. it gets to a certain level and then there's some pandering to things like marketing and media products to be sustainable.
  • 9 3
 This is about to go the way of NORBA real quick.
  • 4 0
 Eric Moore would be proud. (old NORBA hack)
  • 3 1
 I personally can’t see where the EWS will benefit from any involvement with the UCI , seems to me the people who race this series seem perfectly happy with everything, however the UCI SHOULD be paying Chris Ball and his partners in the EWS to sort out the Downhill World Cup / Championship in organising new venues etc, like the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! Every year the EWS is growing and getting better attracting more top rides and racing some awesome trails , keep it real Chris , do you really need the UCI on board??
  • 4 0
 Saw the title, didn't waste my time on the marketing fluff and shot straight down here to answer the titles question:

"Money money money..."
  • 6 0
 Checking the bank account in off shore tax haven.....transfer complete.
  • 6 0
 No More bong hits At the pits? Damn shame
  • 2 1
 Noob here... what's the story behind all the weed jokes and ews?
  • 3 2
 @COnative261: Because Ratboy...
  • 5 0
 Will this mean different licencing requirements to race EWS including qualifiers and continental series events?
  • 1 0
 Wondering the same thing
  • 3 0
 Alright Chris, I trust you on this. You've managed to do so much great stuff over the years, I suppose it will all work out. If you mess up, you can find me here in the comment section Wink .
  • 1 0
 If an organization is hated and infamous for torching other organizations and race styles, I would have tons of apprehensive feelings towards any interest shown by them toward my group or company. Poor choice if you look at track records, but what's done is done, we'll see what happens.
  • 1 0
 this is weird to me, but according to chris ball, a potential partnership was in the works for awhile.
i'm just a fan, nothing really at stake here, so i'll just watch it mature and either hold onto the essence
of what Fred Glo & Franco started, or watch it unravel and wait for an outlaw version to emerge.
  • 1 0
 The potential (!?) improvement in doping controls is the only positive I can see in this agreement. If there's money to be made in Enduro, I predict the EWS will be gone and called the UCI Enduro World Cup, 5-10 years from now. Yes, the EWS can "walk away from it" now, but year after year the UCI will get more involved. First, they take over the sponsors, then they take the riders, then they take the series. Similar to what happened to the ISF vs. the FIS in Snowboarding in the 90ies.
  • 2 0
 Another positive: The EWS doesn't have a Commissaire certification process and program. They also do not have the logistics to deploy said program globally.

And btw, the EWS and UCI partnership is more client - vendor, respectively, than anything else so there shouldn't be any worries about "the UCI taking over the Enduro World Series".
  • 2 1
 @Verbl-Kint: Those are good points. I remain sceptical but will admit there's some hope this will be beneficial for international Enduro racing in the long run.
  • 1 0
 Instead of ews gets to govern DH or at least DH gets some independance, as the people can work better together, they went self destruction mode with added insane ragulations about all things stubit. Well done.bureocrasy at it's best comes to ews. Great.
  • 1 0
 Wonder how the team aspect of Enduro of Nations is going to work? Separate men and women’s teams? One combined team? Equal numbers of men and women? It’ll be a bit flat really as if it’s combjned men and women as many countries don’t have women racing EWS or there’s just one man (Martin Maes for example) or one woman ( Noga Korem).
UK, France, Switzerland and Canada will be ok but what about everyone else??!!!
  • 1 0
 UCI: they catch Cris Froome doping,by x10 times(or more) the maximum amount of VENTOLIN like 9 month ago,Froome wins the Giro without any penalty. It is annoying they let Froome take part of the Giro and win. If you want to improve doping checks,go to work with a partner who has a laboratory. There are some College involved in those tasks,far more capable to made a plan for all riders. UCI is not impartial. I rather made my own thing searching new partners from 0,we can´t trust in UCI
  • 1 0
 It isn't sounding like he's giving them any or little control. Don't read more into it than he said. He still controls and would like to change in some ways they have structure to help. Sounds as if they are only involved as long as they meet his structure of need. knee jerk reactionaries will spout off but the rest of us will watch patiently and hope you know what you're doing. Best of luck on the BIG NEWS...
  • 1 0
 I think many of you UCI haters need to actually listen to what people in the industry have to say. 2 examples of people who are pro UCI, despite people thinking that they have been screwed over by them at some poin (yes you will need to pay attention to something for more than 3 minutes):,2374,2092

So with out the UCI you're pretty much looking at the World Cup downhill not existing, and chances are Greg Minaar may not have made his way to Europe.

Yes they do a lot of rubbish stuff, they make bad decisions and can be a pain in the ass, but in the end you would not have a World Cup series without them.

Do some research, and stop jumping on the bandwagon.
  • 1 0
 So I was at the BMX track last week and the light wentno - EWS will die just like BMX. BMX is my first love, and I dont een recognize it anymore. Especially nationals.

Notice pros have to ride the same national track as 5 year pld girls?

So the EWS and UCI union—-

The main point for UCI will be profit. No surprise here.

This will come in the form of more riders racing EWS sanctioned events. As a result of more riders, the flow of riders down each course must be improved to facilitate timely finishes.
A) Better organization ((Yeah))
B) easier tracks (f*ck!)

So say goodbye to all the gnarly tracks and free thinking fun. It diminishes profits and UCI cant have that.

So, I say dont race highly organized events associated with the UCI. Lets Kill this beast before it kills our fun.
  • 4 0
 Great questions PB- I was thinking the same things- Thank you!
  • 4 0
 Pinkbike are players up in this game.
  • 2 0
 I cringed when I first read the name WADA (Anyone who follows motocross or supercross knows why). Glad to see its CADF handling the testing.
  • 1 1
 I could care less about this. EWS obviously sees a benefit so I’m sure there is one. What I would like to see is more races and maybe one in Asia. If you are going to have multiple that are in close proximity (France and Italy, etc) then have them back to back and closely spaced. I honestly start to get bored with the fan aspect because races are a month apart. I get there are logistics issues but that’s why they should make some sort of geographical sense. EWS might even get a nod from our more environmentally friendly riders if they cut out the zig zagging across the globe between races aspect as well.
  • 2 0
 They should of teamed up with pinkbike and crankworx. That’s all they would of needed. Good lord at least then You could smoke a fat one before you race.
  • 2 0
 Yeah... doping is totally a concern... english road association was running a dope program..... and uci covered. Froome, the beatles guy, canvedish etc etc....
  • 3 1
 As usual, the comments section has more collective wisdom and experience than Chris Ball and the rest of the EWS organization. ;-)
  • 1 0
 Being relatively new to the world of biking, could someone explain me why UCI is perceived negatively? Have they ruined DH after taking it over in the past? Is it too commercial? Not enough change in venues? Why is UCI poop?
  • 3 1
 so basically France will win the trophy of nations in both men and women for the next five years. still a sweet idea though
  • 1 1
 All I see ( reading in between the lines ),is combine forces to get more advertising dollars, no real benefits to the riders, or spectators.

Doping.. is that even an issue in EWS or DH?

Trophy of Nations??
  • 1 0
 Doping is, for Enduro... Did you watch Cedric Gracia's Vlog about 'doping in mtb'? He kinda insinuates that it happens.
  • 5 2
 The beginning of the end of EWS, at a minimum. Never been a fan, anyways.
  • 2 0
 Trust us... Sounds an awful lot like "believe me". I wonder if he made any hand gestures while saying that.
  • 2 0
 “Why mess with a good thing?” is in the title. Then he goes on to tell us that he’s going to mess with a good thing.
  • 2 0
 Uci sucks a%€. Love the EWS but Im afraid its over when they get their grubby little hands on it. Over and out :p
  • 1 0
 The UCI, like FIFA, has been infected by the sickness of greed, compromise, and mediocrity. I think it is smart of Chris and the EWS to keep them at arm's length.
  • 2 0
 Really quick off the ball there
  • 1 0
 Long term could have a positive influence over all mtb within uci, DH in need of some raw venues
  • 4 2
 2020 - EWS - Leogang bike park.
  • 3 1
 Didnt read it, but did he mention how much better EWS is than DH?
  • 2 4
 Am i the only one that doesn't really care about doping? I mean it's not a timed uphill, and i can't think of much that's going to make me faster on the downhill. If there's some drug that can erase fear, then that might work, but apart from that I really don't care.
Enlighten me, please!
  • 4 1
 yeah right because physical strength and endurance has no impact on results, that's why you can sit on your ass the entire winter and then do EWS rounds no biggie
  • 5 0
 All DH including Enduro is massively physical these days. What your saying would make sense if the tracks were 30 seconds long. But they, aren't, some are 10 mins.

If your fresh and not fatigued from riding around all day, you will be a lot faster going downhill. If your stronger you will be hold lines for longer. If those 20 pedal strokes you put in on a stage are @ 800 watts rather than 600 then you will be faster etc etc. All can be enhanced by drugs.

The difference between winning and nobody is 5% in the EWS. Physical conditioning is a huge part of it.
  • 1 0
 @Karve: Thanks, i don't follow EWS. With what you said, do you think the majority of riders riding now are using performance enhancing drugs to win?
I'd like to think differently, but maybe I am wrong...
  • 1 0
 “Trust me”
I will try Chris...
But the word UCI together EWS...
Goin’ ride... it’s better...
  • 2 0
 It appears someone dusted off Fonzie's waterskis.
  • 1 0
 Anyway... It is all politics... I'm looking forward to the Slovenian/Austrian EWS next weekend Smile
  • 4 4
 Well that explains the shitty urban/grass courses, expect flatter tracks and shittier venues, thats progress the UCI way!
  • 4 6
 Q. "What kind of influence will the UCI have over venues going forward?"

CB: "None. That remains with the EWS. Why would we mess with a good thing?"

Crazy idea for you, my man; maybe try reading the article first.
  • 7 2
 Despite what is written in the article, I fully expect the UCI to increasingly influence the EWS, no matter what this initial agreement says. They've got massive leverage in the industry and once EWS is in bed with the UCI, the bigger fish is going to win.
  • 2 0
 @dfiler: This is not zoology, this is a partnership under jurisdiction of a legal contract. Do you really think Ball is stupid enough not have his lawyers create a contract with the UCI and risk watching his baby yanked away from him? If the UCI gets all 'handsy' it is abuse of contract terms, leading to complaints and potentially contract dissolution.

Your premise of the UCI taking over the EWS is based on solely on personal bias, the relative size of the UCI organization, and completely ignores their agreed upon roles and duties as defined in their legal contract with each other and is explained by Ball in the article above.
  • 2 3
 Chris Ball is a visionary , to get everything so right consistently . Well done . Look at xc , xco also dh all UCI affiliated all brilliant and getting better
  • 2 1
 ...? He just copied the various enduro races format and called it world series to make appetibile to Americans? Whats so visionary?
  • 1 0
  • 2 1
 UCI licks Balls are looking to get paid. bye bye Enduro
  • 2 0
  • 1 0
 +1 or I actually wanted to sum up this article some thing like this : bla bla bla ...
  • 1 0
 It’s just a ride, roll with it????????
  • 1 0
 I heard IMBA is in talks to design the EWS courses for 2019.
  • 1 0
  • 1 1
 Chris Ball... I respect you. But this is just fucking selling out.
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