UCI relieved over the new ProTour situation

Initially intending to talk about the anti-doping program only, Pat McQuaid started his official...

Initially intending to talk about the anti-doping program only, Pat McQuaid started his official speech at the UCI press conference Friday with the ProTour situation but didn't come up with new information.

"We are relieved that all parties have had the courage to return to the path of dialog. It's an act of responsibility... The UCI has three missions: regulating the sport and assuring its integrity, promoting the sport, being the meeting place of cycling communities around the world... The UCI has a vision for the sport to move forward... Cycling has never had a brilliant future as today."

Talking again about the convention agreed on Monday between the Grand Tours and the UCI, he said: "We are not completely happy but we feel a sense of relief. We'll discuss for one year. Everyone has to be reasonable."

Even without Unibet.com taking part in all the races, there will be a ProTour ranking and a ProTour ceremony organized beside the official protocol podium at the races run by ASO, RCS Sport and Unipublic. It will be the case at the end of next week for the winner of Paris-Nice. "I don't think it's humiliating," McQuaid answered to the press. "It's a short term situation for the good of cycling."

He also made clear that "there is still a risk of sanctions by the UCI. Personally, I have asked that there would be no sanctions, but I'm only the president. The board has the responsibilities for the order of cycling. At some stages, I've been really afraid that teams would boycott Paris-Nice."

UCI accepts French judge's decision

Right after the anti-doping program presentation, Pat McQuaid got wind of the French judge's decision to not include Unibet.com in Paris-Nice. "We have to accept it then, it's a judicial decision," the UCI president said. "We gave Unibet a ProTour license with good will."

Asked whether or not the UCI could or should have anticipated this decision, the Irishman answered: "No. Or ask the same question to Unibet." During the winter Olympics in Torino in February 2006, Hein Verbruggen was already warned by Française Des Jeux's president Christophe Blanchard-Dignac that cycling would face problems, should Unibet become a major team.

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