By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Santa Clarita, California
"I thought by coming to the western US I would be getting away from Europe!" UCI president Pat McQuaid joked when asked about the latest developments in the rift between the UCI and the ASO. McQuaid arrived in the US on Friday in a visit to the Tour of California. Before the start of stage six in Santa Barbara, McQuaid sat down with all of the ProTour directors present at a park just off of the start line. Immediately following the meeting, neither the directors nor McQuaid would comment about the impromptu talks.
However, later at the press conference following the stage, McQuaid responded to questions, saying, "I had a meeting with the six directors of the ProTour teams here in California this morning. They understand and they are completely behind the position of the UCI and they will accept the decision of the UCI that they cannot take part at the race." This comment comes in response to news reports that some ProTour teams were breaking ranks with the UCI over starting Paris-Nice.
"This is not a situation that has been brought about by the UCI. It's been brought about by the ASO and an organizer who refuses to accept the rules. I had a meeting with ASO this week to try to make a resolution - find common ground and a way forward. That meeting was based on the fact that they must accept the rules and they refuse to do that so the meeting broke down with no progress."
"Once that happened they went ahead to put their race on the National Calendar under their French federation with the assistance of, or actually in collusion with, the French federation. This gave me no alternative but to declare that under the rules of the UCI, ProTour teams cannot take place in race on the national event calendar of a federation. They can only take place in the international calendar. That left me with no alternative but to tell to ProTour teams that they cannot go to Paris-Nice. That is the situation at the moment."
McQuaid was quite clear about his feelings regarding the ASO and his belief that the organization is responsible for the current problems. "As a government of cycling, which we are, as a regulatory authority of cycling we can't accept that people will refuse to obey the rules of the governance. If we do that than we lead to anarchy and a complete breakdown of cycling worldwide. This has been created by ASO and that needs to be remembered."
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'