By Shane Stokes
Despite the recent statement by ASO that they will refuse Unibet.com a place in Paris-Nice, thus provoking a stand-off with the UCI over the ProTour, Pat McQuaid has said that he and many others within the sport remain fully committed to the series.
Speaking to Cyclingnews on Tuesday, the Irishman said that the UCI is currently considering what measures it could take if ASO go through with their threat not to allow the 19th ProTour team to take part in what is supposed to be the first race in the competition.
However, he says that he still considers it possible that a solution can be found before the start on March 11. "Without going into details right now, at the moment we are looking at what measures we could take in relation to the Paris-Nice situation. That said, I would hope that things could be resolved before that point.
"There is a general agreement [amongst many of the stakeholders] that the ProTour is good for the future of cycling. It needs some changes, everybody is aware of that, but it requires that everybody gathers around the table and starts working together. We can then look at those [agreed] changes and introduce them. The UCI is prepared to sit down with the Grand Tour organisers and discuss those things.
"There have been a series of meetings this week in relation to the ProTour. We met the Professional Cycling Council last Monday, the ProTour teams on Tuesday, the ProTour organisers on Wednesday, the Management Committee of the UCI on Friday and the UEC congress on Saturday. Obviously the ProTour was discussed at all of those meetings and a commitment to the future of it is there. Everybody from the UCI agrees that the ProTour is the way forward.
"We also spent yesterday in a meeting with the CPA. A group of riders' representatives were there and once again we explained to them the philosophy behind the ProTour project, both as regards its introduction and its future."
As reported earlier, this future would seem to include the possibility of a globalisation of that calendar, with the Tour Down Under appearing to be a strong contender for addition.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split
October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'