The conflict between cycling's governing body, the UCI, and the Tour de France organiser, ASO, has drawn the attention of the French government. According to AFP, French Secretary of State for Sports Bernard Laporte met with the current UCI president Pat McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen at the Sports Ministry, and will meet Friday with ASO president Patrice Clerc.
While the main focus of the meeting with Clerc will likely be the future of one of the ASO's other events, the Paris-Dakar rally, which was canceled due to a terrorist threat this week, it is reasonable to expect that the Tour de France will be on the table as well.
The ASO has long objected to the UCI's ProTour, fighting the requirement to invite all ProTour teams to the Tour de France. The UCI granted the ASO's wish to be removed from the ProTour for 2008, leaving it on the UCI European calendar, a move which the ASO viewed as an affront to the stature of the race.
"The secretary of state wanted an acceptable compromise to be reached by the two sides," said a Sports Ministry source to AFP. "Bernard Laporte did not take sides with the UCI or ASO, but he emphasized that he would defend the interests of French cycling and the Tour de France, which belongs to France, and the cycling world's heritage."