ASO has confirmed overnight that its Paris-Nice race on March 11-18 will go ahead, despite any actions that may be taken by the UCI as the stand-off between cycling's world governing body and major event organisers continues. The world's largest cycling organiser issued the release in retaliation to that sent out by the UCI yesterday entitled 'ASO's Stance Blocks Any Discussion With The UCI', following a break down in discussions between the pair the previous day.
"The president of the UCI said that if the race continues to not follow the framework of the UCI, by refusing participation of all ProTour teams to compete, the UCI will cut it from the ProTour circuit, just like the organizers of the Giro and Vuelta, who have refused to take park since the start," the communication posted on France's Yahoo! read.
The latest in the UCI vs. ProTour organisers battle comes after ASO, who also runs the Tour de France, announced ProTour team Unibet.com would not be invited to contest the Paris-Nice, the opening round of the ProTour. UCI president Pat McQuaid and ProTour manager Alain Rumpf met with ASO representatives Gilbert Ysern and president Patrice Clerc on Monday in order to find a resolution to the matter, but the meeting failed to produce a solution.
"In these exceptional circumstances, ASO is anxious to guarantee the integrity and credibility of the competition," said Clerc. "ASO indicated that it would organise the race conforming to the French law, and per the rules and regulations of the French Cycling Federation."
While the UCI has previously threatened the GrandTour ogranisers with action against their events should they fail to meet its demands, ASO has declared it has a responsibility to uphold the tradition of its events and will go ahead with the Paris-Nice with, or without, the UCI's blessing.
"The position of the UCI is to stand by threats it made to race organizers, ASO is supposed to include all ProTour teams," continued ASO's announcement. "Despite all the threats made, ASO's obligation is to preserve a race that occupies an important place in cycling tradition and confirms the Paris-Nice will continue like announced on March 11-18, 2007."
The Sweden-registered ProTour team Unibet has become a pawn in the power play between the major players in world cycling. In addition to the snub by ASO, the outfit has also been given a frosty welcome to the ProTour by RCS, with the company revealing last week it wouldn't allow Unibet to take part in its ProTour rounds Milan-San Remo, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Giro d'Italia.
ASO has also asked: "that a meeting between all the parties of pro cycling be organised. In our eyes, it is the only means of getting past the current crisis, which is born of bad reforms the UCI wanted to impose without necessary consensus."
"ASO regrets this request was rejected by the president of the UCI, who makes out as if ASO is solely responsible for the current crisis, while back in June 2006, the UCI had reduced to nothing the efforts of a working group, which had reached unanimous agreement."