By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor with Kirsten Robbins in Solvang
UCI president Pat McQuaid was present for the stage five time trial at the Tour of California, and attended the post-stage press conference. While he was first asked about the racing in California, the ongoing fight between the UCI and ASO was the hot topic. The most recent development, the exclusion of Astana from RCS events such as Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-Sanremo and the Giro d'Italia, was put to McQuaid for reaction. And McQuaid responded that he understood the decision rationale of the RCS because they did not single out Astana like the ASO did in the exclusion from the Tour de France.
"I would say that the RCS has the authority to exclude Astana because the rules of participation of the RCS event are different than the rules of participation of the Tour de France," he said. "Last September the AIGCP had a meeting, during the meeting, the teams asked that the UCI put in a rule that the 18 teams of the ProTour be invited to participate in the Tour de France. That then went to the Professional Cycling Council. It was discussed and approved. It then went to the UCI management committee, it was discussed and approved. I think you will agree that is a fairly democratic process."
"The ASO refused to accept that," McQuaid continued. "The others were free to invite who they wish. RCS did not invite four teams into the Giro and I think that was unfortunate because those races should want the best teams in the world to give their races credibility. What has happened really proves to me that we need participation rules and organizers need to respect participation rules."
McQuaid's main beef with the ASO at the moment is that there is no apparent rubric behind their exclusion of Astana. "The [ASO] decision is not consistent," he said. "I think it is a completely unjust decision, and it is not consistent because if they say that Astana damaged the Tour de France last year, and therefore the Astana team should not be invited to the Tour de France this year, several teams... I don't want to name names... damaged the Tour de France last year. So several teams should have been excluded from the Tour de France this year."
read on for McQuaid's reaction to the RCS decision.