Pro Cycling may be on the edge of its biggest schism in the history of the sport. On Wednesday, UCI president Pat McQuaid re-iterated that the ProTour teams were not allowed to participate in the upcoming Paris-Nice stage race as it will this year be a national event, and threatened them with "heavy sanctions" if they chose to start. One day later, it's Tour de France organiser ASO's turn to threaten the teams - this time going one step further: the participation in Paris-Nice might affect the teams' entry in all ASO-organised events, including the Tour de France.
Patrice Clerc, ASO president, has now made rumours come true and retaliated, saying that he might consider not inviting the teams to the Tour de France if they chose not to come to Paris-Nice. Speaking to the Telegraaf, Clerc commented, "All 18 teams reacted promptly when they received our invitation. If they cancel their participation now, it's because they're not allowed to start under the pressure of the UCI. If these teams now refuse to come to Paris-Nice, then they will have the same stance on our other competitions. In that case, I don't see why I should invite them to the Tour. I will only reconsider this if they have a very good reason to call off Paris-Nice."
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'