Tour de France organiser ASO confident about upcoming legal procedure and new selection criteria
The divide between the most powerful race organisers in the world and the world's governing body of cycling has never been so deep. For over three years, the Grand Tour organisers, spearheaded by Tour de France management ASO, and the UCI have been in constant conflict over the sport's most recent reform, the ProTour. Now, unable to come to an agreement, the two sides will take their fight to the European Commission. Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner spoke to Patrice Clerc, the ASO president, about the conflict and the organisation's future plans.
The organisers of the three Grand Tours, the ASO, the RCS (Giro d'Italia), and Unipublic (Vuelta España) have long objected to the ProTour model. They call the forced inclusion of the 20 ProTour teams 'a closed system' and have came up with their own set of team selection criteria late last year. And, after a year full of doping torments, they decided to reserve the right to refuse participation anyone who may harm their image. The UCI is fighting for the ProTour, and have taken the case to the courts.
With the trial in front of the European Commission impending, Patrice Clerc didn't want to comment too much about the issues. "The presidency of the UCI has decided to bring this dissident to the European Commission - the Directorate General for Competition - which means that I can not comment on this today. Although I would have a lot of things to say... I have to spare my entire comments on the subject for the Commission," he said.
The history of the conflict
Clerc did outline the course of events that led to the current situation with the UCI. "Even before the ProTour was officially launched, since 2004, we have always said that we would not adhere to this system. To us, this system opposes the sport and the European sporting model, because it is a closed system. We do not adhere to the concept of a license, either, as it appears to us totally unsuitable to our sport.
For the full interview with Patrice Clerc click here.