Tour de France teams announced in one week
By Hedwig Kröner in Nice
In the morning before the start of the ultimate stage of Paris-Nice, an important meeting took place between the representatives of the International Association of Professional Cycling Teams (AIGCP) and Tour de France organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO). The head of the AIGCP, Cofidis team manager Eric Boyer, said the meeting had been a success.
"We discussed the team invitations to their next races," he told Cyclingnews in Nice on Sunday. "We don't want to experience again what we had prior to this Paris-Nice, so this meeting was necessary, and it went well."
The team manager said that ASO seemed to have decided that its next races on French territory, which include Paris-Roubaix, the Tour de France and Paris-Tours, will again be carried out under French sports law. "We spoke of the conditions of participation, and wanted to know whether the next ASO races will be held within the same framework as Paris-Nice. It seems that this is so. We will then negotiate our participation conditions as we did for Paris-Nice," he added.
The French stage race, after years of conflict between the organiser of the event, ASO, and the International Cycling Union, UCI, was sanctioned this year by the French cycling federation, FFC. In the weeks leading up to the event, the participating teams were under heavy pressure not to race, as the UCI threatened sanctions against teams and riders. Still, the race went ahead as planned.
Now, a new chapter in the conflict will be opened, as the teams will negotiate race participation conditions not only for the next event organised by ASO - which would be Paris-Roubaix - but for all of the competitions owned by the organiser. "ASO will announce the team invitations to its races in one week approximately," Boyer explained. "Then, we will sign participation contracts for the whole season."
The head of the UCI, Pat McQuaid, had suspended contacts with the AIGCP last week. Still, Boyer insisted that "it's them who cut ties with us, not vice versa. I'm still open to discuss with McQuaid. He just has to understand that our interest is to race, and that we cannot boycott an organiser who owns the most important race on the calendar."