Prepared to meet but concessions need to be made by both sides
By Shane Stokes
With time ticking down to the March 11th start of Paris-Nice and the Unibet/ProTour situation showing no signs of being resolved, the UCI and ASO have been in contact regarding possible talks about the issues.
While remaining fully committed to the ProTour project, Pat McQuaid has told Cyclingnews that he has been in communication with Patrice Clerc and is willing to sit down with him and others from ASO in order to attempt to find a resolution to the matter.
As reported on Friday, directeurs sportifs within the sport have expressed their frustration with the deadlock and have urged all sides to come together and work out an agreement.
"It would be my sincere intention that we would have some reason to move forward and we might make some progress. Both on the issues regarding Unibet and the rules and the bigger issue, which is the ProTour," said McQuaid.
On Wednesday L'Equipe printed an interview with Clerc which painted an uncompromising stance. "We are not afraid. The race [Paris-Nice] will take place," he stated. "Only a real war [ie outside cycling] could prevent this from happening.
"It [the UCI] wished to set up a commercial system which we consider illicit. It must now struggle with those contradictions, but that should not prevent a beautiful race from taking place. One should not penalize the riders, the teams, the public."
"Since 2004, we have clearly said that we don't want to be part of the ProTour, this system that we consider bad for cycling," he added later in the interview. "The teams know this. If the UCI can't keep its promises, it has to assume its responsibilities."
When asked by the journalist concerned if Clerc was currently in contact with the UCI, he suggested that this was not the case. "I understand that it [the UCI] prefers to put the dialogue on a legal level," was his sole response.
Read the full feature here.