The ASO threw down the gauntlet this week in its fight against the UCI and the ProTour. The ASO, which organizes the Tour de France among other races, announced the teams which had been invited to Paris-Nice - and did not include ProTour newcomer Unibet.
Paris-Nice, which will run from March 11-18, is the first ProTour race of the season, and under UCI rules, all 19 ProTour teams should participate. However, the ASO invited the 18 "old" ProTour teams, and issued wild cards to Astana (which received its ProTour license late in December) and the French Continental Professional Agritrubel team.
The organizers announced that "logistical grounds" prevented them from inviting more than 20 teams. Unibet team manager Koen Terryn has already said that he will ask the UCI to intervene on his team's behalf. "We have received a program from the UCI, in which Paris-Nice stands in black and white. But now it looks as if we won't be there, but instead there will be Agritubel, a French team without a ProTour license. We will complain to the UCI. We don't have the power to change anything in this matter, but the UCI does," Terryn said. "If we are not allowed to race, then that is a slap in the face for cycling."
Teams invited to Paris-Nice
Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Balears
Cofidis Le Crédit Par Téléphone
Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
Euskaltel - Euskadi
Française Des Jeux
Lampre - Fondital
Predictor - Lotto
Quick Step - Innergetic
Saunier Duval - Prodir
T - Mobile Team
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split
October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'