By Susan Westemeyer and Cyclingnews staff
Following ASO's decision to change the status of Paris-Nice to a National "free-event" and remove it from the UCI ProTour and the UCI's subsequent request to all ProTour teams to boycott the race, the professional peloton has generally expressed a desire for more dialogue to resolve the situation.
At the Tour of California, Gerolsteiner's team manager Hans-Michael Holczer could only stare in amazement at what was happening. "Those of us here in California can only look and wonder at the vehemence that both sides are bringing against each other at this time," he said.
There was also a similar consensus in the Discovery team camp in California. George Hincapie said he heard about the status of Paris-Nice in the peloton during Thursday's 213-kilometer stage from Seaside to San Luis Obispo. "I heard about it on the ride. Everybody [in the peloton] is saying that they [ASO and the UCI] need to work it out. It's a big race. They will need the big teams. They need to come to an agreement."
Newly appointed Discovery Channel team director Viatcheslav Ekimov said, "Nobody is going to win if they don't work it out; not the riders, the race or the ProTour."
According to Discovery's team manager Johan Bruyneel, the ProTour team managers present at the Tour of California have plans to meet Friday evening to discuss, among other issues, how to respond to the Paris-Nice situation.
At the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, Française des Jeux manager Marc Madiot was certain of his team's particpation in the race to the sun. "I received the letter from the UCI but I'm going to Paris-Nice as every year," affirmed Madiot.
Eric Boyer, manager of Cofidis, told L'Equipe: "For our sponsor and especially for our racers, who are there to ride a bike and do not have to be taken as a hostage of a conflict between the international federation and the organisers, it is a question of good direction."
Reaction in the German ProTour peloton was mixed. Rolf Aldag, directeur sportif of the T-Mobile Team, said on the team's web site, t-mobile-team.com, "We are a cycling team and as such, we of course want to ride races. As a matter of principle, we would not boycott a race for political reasons, and we hope for an agreement between the parties. If the UCI forbids us to start, then we will naturally do what they say, because we support the ProTour and the UCI as the neutral authority of cycling."
Rabobank manger Theo De Rooy was quoted on tuttobiciweb.com as saying that he doesn't want to boycott Paris Nice. "I assert that nobody wants to boycott Paris-Nice or other races. I confirm that Rabobank and the other formations of the ProTour have received a letter from the UCI in which it reminds us of the regulations that prevent us from participating.. Another firm point of issue is that the UCI is the maker of the regulations and has the task to manage cycling. To this point, we the team managers cannot wait for the next moves by the UCI and ASO. We begin to feel a need for one common strategy."
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'