Friday, December 9, was a turbulent day for cycling. The rejection by ASO, RCS and Unipublic of the UCI's one year old ProTour project was a blow to the UCI, and a decision which has big implications for the sport. 12 months ago the talk was all about a new beginning, the ProTour set to increase sponsorship, media coverage and public interest in cycling, thus helping the sport to compete with others such as football and Formula One. Yet now this aim has unravelled, and as a result of Friday's big divorce, some of cycling's most historic events have now broken away from the new series.
Time will tell what effect this has on the sport. As of now, cycling is teetering on the edge of a civil war between some of the biggest players. It is, potentially, one of the most serious political crises in the sport's history, and it will not benefit the fans at all.
Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes talked to Pat McQuaid over the weekend to get his take on things. Despite what has happened in recent days, the UCI President says he still believes strongly in the ProTour concept and gives his reasons why he maintains it is the best direction to take for the overall development of the sport.
Cyclingnews: Having reflected on Friday's announcement, what is your reaction to the decision of the Grand Tour organisers?
Pat McQuaid: First off, I think the decision is something which could be very bad for cycling and runs the risk of causing some very deep divisions within the sport.
Secondly, I think there are elements of it that are obscene. To explain that, I was in Cairo at the African championships on Friday. I was talking to young cyclists there from places like Eritrea and Ethiopia and Sudan and Kenya, as well as officials and presidents from those federations. My time there was spent discussing the problems they have in developing cycling in their country.