Teams will race Paris-Nice as stalemate continues

26th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 24, 2007 (AFP) - Professional teams caught up in a mounting feud between cycling's world ruling body and major race organisers have announced they will not boycott the first major race of the season next week.

PARIS, Feb 24, 2007 (AFP) - Professional teams caught up in a mounting feud between cycling's world ruling body and major race organisers have announced they will not boycott the first major race of the season next week.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) ruled last week that teams aiming to take part in the Paris-Nice stage race would be doing so against the rules of the Pro Tour, which the UCI introduced over two years ago.

Organisers of the race, ASO, have recently declared a breakaway from the Pro Tour because of a difference of opinion over how the series should be run.

Despite several attempts at negotiations it has led to a lengthy stalemate which, ahead of the symbolic start to the season, has left race organisers in limbo and the UCI being forced to stamp its authority on the sport.

The riders and teams meanwhile have been caught in the middle.

And the international body which represents professional cyclists (CPA) said Saturday they are not happy at becoming victims.

"The CPA would like to state to the organisers of major races that its members (cyclists) will not stand in the way of the wishes of their employers (teams).

"If the teams decide to contravene the wishes of the UCI and participate in Paris-Nice, then the riders will be at the start line.

"But we will not be happy, and we don't want our presence to be interpreted as a gesture of support to the organisers."

ASO have been joined by the organisers of the Tour of Italy (RCS) and Tour of Spain (Unipublic) in defying the UCI over the Pro Tour.

Combined, all three companies organise 11 of the races currently on the UCI's Pro Tour series, hence their defiant stance towards the sport's world ruling body.

Last month ASO took their defiance a step further when they announced that Unibet, who recently spent millions making sure they met all the criteria for Pro Tour status, would not be invited to Paris-Nice.

Unibet had been given Pro Tour status after the UCI decided to increase the number of Pro Tour teams to 20, against the wishes of the CPA.

Recent talks between the warring parties broke down before even getting started last week, and the UCI issued a heavily-worded statement on Friday.

"To oppose the UCI is the same as opposing the outcome of a democratic debate of all parties involved in cycling. Nobody is allowed to do this, unless they advocate anarchy, where each one decides to follow the rules which serve its interests (even if that has consequences which are harmful for everyone)," said the UCI statement.

he situation has left the sport of cycling in another rut.

Last year it suffered badly from the Operation Puerto doping 'scandal' in Spain, and FLoyd Landis's positive test for testosterone after the American won the Tour de France.

Ahead of a series of key races such as Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-SanRemo, run by RCS, Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege (ASO), the need for talks and a resolution is becoming even more desperate.

The CPA statement also called on the UCI to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible.

"The UCI has a moral obligation to lead the sport towards a solution to the problem. It's leaders should not become involved in a war of prestige or personal pride."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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