UCI president Pat McQuaid saw the ProTour project face near-certain ruin on Tuesday when the teams and Grand Tour organisers joined together in calling for a new system, saying that they will work together to move the sport forward. McQuaid gave his reaction to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes and, from the sound of things, the governing body has no intentions of backing down.
Tuesday's announcement that seventeen teams on the Tour de France would not seek a renewal of their ProTour licences came as a big blow to the UCI. It effectively threatens the death of the ProTour series in the fourth year of its existence, and also sees the teams siding with ASO in the matter.
These teams announced afterwards that they had reached an agreement with Tour organiser ASO, plus RCS Sport and Unipublic [the organisers of the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España] and would work together to develop a new calendar of cycling. They have requested that the UCI is also involved.
As might be expected, UCI president Pat McQuaid was less than happy with the situation. "The teams and ASO have worked out a calendar between themselves," he told Cyclingnews late on Tuesday evening. "The teams were presented with certain ultimatums within that calendar. For instance, they were told that the 18 teams [sic] that were in the room have a right to ride the Tour de France next year, but if one or two of them don't renew their sponsorship - and there are one or two of them looking for sponsors - then there would only be 17 or 16 who have a right to ride the Tour de France.
"In other words, if one or two of them [ProTour level teams] don't get new sponsors and the UCI replace them with others - and I am thinking for instance of the Russian team that was announced today - they don't get an automatic right into the Tour de France. So, effectively ASO is making rules to suit themselves. This is part of the calendar that they are trying to impose upon the UCI, but the UCI won't accept that. The UCI makes the rules, and both the teams and the other organisers need to understand that."
McQuaid has argued this point for several months, that the UCI is the governing body in the sport and that the others involved need to be aware of that. However Tuesday's announcement by the teams essentially sees them turn their backs on that, acting together with ASO in what the UCI says is an act of defiance.