Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the organiser of Paris-Nice, which is scheduled to start on Sunday, has labeled UCI's reaction to hand riders sanctions and fines, should they ride Paris-Nice, as "out of proportion." It said that "Paris-Nice is being organised in conjunction with the FFC [French cycling federation - ed.] and conforms to the French law," ASO stressed in an official communication. ASO reminded everyone that "The French ministry for sport and the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) are helping us to organise the race. The Association Internationale Des Groupes Cyclistes Professionnels [AIGCP] confirmed the determination of the 20 invited teams to start on Sunday, and agreed to the convention negotiated on Monday in a constructive spirit."
ASO has been asking for two "simple things: that Paris-Nice, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, remains as a major historical race on the world calendar (...) and that ASO be able to decide its teams selection system for the Tour de France. This system is open to sporting and ethical values and not according to the locked-in and arbitrary system of the UCI ProTour."
The organisation, headed by president Patrice Clerc, has deplored the threats against six European cycling nations, among them the most important ones from Italy, France, Spain and Belgium. Those cycling nations are in disagreement with the UCI about the ProTour in its current format.
The statement continued that "Given this situation, the UCI has launched threats against riders and teams that are totally out of proportion (fines, suspensions, exclusion). We don't want to defy the authority of the UCI, we simply want the UCI to assure the status of a major event that is recognised as such by the entire world, including the UCI, shown by its strong reaction. ASO regrets that the UCI has harmed the preparation of the race with its threats, thereby disturbing the sponsors and riders, and only contributing to the deterioration of the image of the sport," the statement concluded.
Some riders have chosen to switch from racing in Paris-Nice to Tirreno-Adriatico instead. Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins do not want to jeopardise their Olympic dream. The recent winner of Het Volk, Philippe Gilbert, may also go to Italy instead. His directeur sportif, Marc Madiot, does not want his rider suspended.
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