By Shane Stokes
The UCI has scored an important point in the standoff between it and the organisers of cycling's three Grand Tours. It has emerged that, at a meeting overseen by the AIGCP (International Association Of Professional Cycling Teams) last Wednesday, the ProTour teams rejected outright the plans unveiled by ASO, RCS and Unipublic in December.
A letter released by the AIGCP after the meeting declared the teams' support for the UCI on the ProTour issue.
"Following the meeting of the UCI ProTour teams under the aegis of the AIGCP, held on Wednesday January 4, 2006 in Brussels, the teams have completely rejected the proposals made by ASO, RCS and Unipublic on December 9, 2005," the letter stated.
"The UCI Pro Teams, who have accepted all the regulations, confirm their unreserved support for the UCI ProTour as it was set up for the period 2005-2008, in particular regarding the number of races and the number of teams, etc. They reaffirm their support for the UCI Pro Tour Council to organise this competition."
The decision is a setback for the Grand Tour organisers, who on December 9th officially withdrew from the ProTour and put their weight behind a new ‘Trophy of the Grand Tours' competition, to run from 2006 onwards.
As an incentive to take part, the organisers stated that they planned to award €100,000 to teams who competed in the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España, as well as offering a total prize fund of €2 million for the three-race contest.
The letter issued by the AIGCP on Wednesday stopped short of declaring that the teams would take a stance against the Grand Tour organisers. However, in declaring in favour of the UCI and the ProTour project, the teams appear to have come down firmly on the side of the governing body in its standoff with ASO, RCS and Unipublic.
The AIGCP further outlined the position in the letter. "The UCI ProTour teams recognize the UCI ProTour Council's competence in organizing international cycling and, for this reason, ask the UCI to stick by the regulations drawn up during the awarding of ProTour licences as regards to the a number of races, the number of teams and the conditions of participation".
The AIGCP concluded by saying that it was willing, as before, to discuss the future of the UCI ProTour with all of the parties concerned.
When contacted by Cyclingnews about the latest development, UCI President Pat McQuaid said that it was a significant show of support. "This development supports what the UCI have been saying all along," he said. "The UCI is in charge of the rules and regulations of our sport and the Professional Cycling Council is in charge of the organization of the ProTour. By this statement, the Association of Professional Teams gives its full support to that position."
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'