UCI expresses some concerns over honouring of agreement
By Shane Stokes
Following the agreement reached on March 5th between the UCI, the IPCT and the Grand Tour organisers regarding the ProTour, a date for the next meeting is currently being finalised between the parties concerned.
Under the terms of the agreement, meetings will take place each month. The next session will take place in mid-April, with the exact date to be agreed shortly. Prior to that, the UCI will have a meeting with the UCI ProTour Council (CUPT) on April 5th. It is expected that the ProTour deal will be discussed here, along with the UCI's concerns that the spirit of the agreement is not being fully respected.
"We made an agreement on the fifth of March and I am not satisfied that the parties have adhered strictly to their word, as such," said UCI President Pat McQuaid on Tuesday to Cyclingnews. "I will bring it up at the next meeting that we have [with them] in the middle of April. I have already indicated to the other parties that the UCI is not happy with that situation."
McQuaid declined to get into the specifics of what the UCI is unhappy about, but it is likely that the continuing ambiguity over Unibet.com's participation in races is a big issue. In a recent interview with Cyclingnews, Vuelta a España race director Victor Cordero remained uncommitted to allowing the team into the Spanish Tour, despite the wording of the March 5th agreement. In that peace deal, the parties said that, "without prejudicing their right to grant wild cards to all other teams of their choice, for the duration of this agreement ASO, RCS and Unipublic will examine in a positive spirit the granting of wild cards to the teams Astana and Unibet, in particular insofar as such decisions are not likely to expose or be likely to expose the organisers to legal consequences, of whatever nature they might be."
The sponsor Unibet.com has encountered legal difficulties in France but does not have the same problem in Spain. However, despite that, Cordero suggested that the team could still lose out.
"Unibet is not in our plans, but fortunately, as we are not forced by the rules to give the wildcards on March 1 like last year, we can wait up to three months, until the end of May, beginning of June [before we decide]. The last word it is not yet said.
"If Unibet has all its legal problems solved, if it improves upon the performances and conditions of the other six candidates... It is not Unibet alone, we have six candidatures for riding the Vuelta a España. We will make the decision mainly based on sporting criteria. Up to today, I don't see Unibet in the Vuelta."
The UCI made several concessions to the Grand Tour organisers at the March 5th meeting and will be keen that each one of them honours the agreement. Despite the concerns, McQuaid said that he hoped the deal would prove to be the correct way forward for the sport.
"As far as we are concerned the ProTour continues and we will continue to work and develop it. There are a lot of discussions to take place during the year and hopefully within that time we will come up with an acceptable solution to the ProTour."
Unibet missed out on riding Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, but will have a place in Milan-Sanremo this Saturday.
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'