By Shane Stokes
A peace deal between the International Cycling Union and the organisers of the Grand Tours brokered in Italy this week has resulted in the three-month old suspension of the French Cycling Federation (FFC) being lifted. The bans of FFC President Jean Pitallier, AIGCP President Eric Boyer and the International Commissaire Joël Ménard were also brought to an end, setting things up for a far more relaxed meeting between the UCI and all its federations on Friday.
Speaking in advance of the UCI's press conference on Saturday at the world championships in Varese, Pat McQuaid has expressed his satisfaction with the peace deal that has been forged between the governing body and the Grand Tour organisers.
As previously reported by Cyclingnews, Editions Philippe Amaury (EPA, owner of ASO and Société du Tour de France), RCS and Unipublic signed an agreement with the UCI on Thursday, ending the long disputes over the ProTour and other issues.
"Things have been worked out now," said McQuaid. "Any discussions remaining now are the discussions about us working together. The agreement has been signed, the finer details are all covered now, and the pathway for the future has been laid out.
"We agreed the large part of the agreement back in August, and since then we have been working on the last points. Jean Claude Killy and the other mediators were involved right until the very end, and we concluded things last night. I was extremely happy to be able to do that as it meant that we went to congress today and were able to reintegrate the French federation."
"The congress went extremely well today," McQuaid continued. "The UCI got a lot of messages of support from federations around the world and I did also. I have to be happy with how things went, and am confident that things are looking good for the future of the sport.
"It is now a question of working together with the organisers and rebuilding relationships. My desire is that relations with the Tour go back to the way they were a few years ago. I genuinely feel that the people we are dealing with in EPA are sincere, honest, and have the same desires as us." McQuaid added that he hadn't yet spoken directly with Tour director Christian Prudhomme, having dealt directly with his superiors in the EPA, but expects to do so at the launch of the Tour de France.
He also confirmed that the ProTour would continue as part of the UCI's new World Calendar. Cyclingnews will have more on these subjects following Saturday's press conference.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme was also pleased to end the four-year conflict, but said he would push for tougher anti-doping rules. "This agreement allows us to look forward to working together in a positive fashion in the future, but there is still a lot of work to do," Prudhomme told AFP. "For the Tour, there's no question of letting our guard down."