By Gregor Brown
Paris-Nice may be the opening ProTour race of the year but three days later, almost running parallel, will be the Tirreno-Adriatico (March 14-20). Recently, Paris Nice organisers ASO started a stir by announcing they would not invite Unibet.com to their event, even though the team has obtained ProTour status.
The issue started in December, when the Grand Tour organizers released a statement that said "For the 2007 season, the 18 teams currently holding ProTour licenses will qualify automatically." This meant neither Unibet.com nor the newly formed Astana squad would be invited to races run by the Grand Tour organizers. For Paris-Nice, ASO invited Astana as a wild-card team.
On Monday, Angelo Zomegnan, director of the Giro d'Italia and the Tirreno-Adriatico, said that the teams would soon know if they would have an invite to the March race. "We will make it known February 12," said the Italian to Cyclingnews. RCS Sport will release the Tirreno teams the same day as the Giro teams.
He had indicated last month that there would be only 18 ProTour teams to start the Giro. For Tirreno, Zomegnan was tight-lipped as to if he would follow the same procedure but noted RCS Sport's count on the number of ProTour teams. "The teams of the ProTour are 18, not more."
In response to the teams being invited to Paris-Nice, Zomegnan said "ASO has the right to invite who they want to its races. I think they did well to invite 18."