By Shane Stokes
UCI president Pat McQuaid is pleased with his organisation's improved relationship with Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation, he said Thursday after attending the Tour launch in Paris.
McQuaid appeared at the function after being left off the invitation list last year when the UCI was at war with the ASO over the ProTour. The situation has changed drastically in recent weeks, after ASO's parent company EPA helped facilitate a thaw in relations.
"Things are excellent," McQuaid told Cyclingnews after the launch. "There is a charm offensive on both sides. We are very happy and very content with the way we are communicating with them, and they likewise feel the same about the way they are communicating with us."
"We had a meeting in Paris on Monday. I met with Jean Etienne [Amaury], the new president of ASO, and one of the directors of the EPA. We had a discussion about various elements such as next year's calendar and they also explained their objectives with the Tour presentation. The meeting was very convivial."
The battle between the UCI and ASO petered out after conciliatory talks were held this summer between the governing body and the EPA. Following those talks Patrice Clerc was replaced by Amaury as the president of ASO, while UCI vice president Hein Verbruggen resigned from his post. Relations are clearly far better than earlier this year and many are hoping that the sport will move forward from what was a tough time.
Having seen the Tour outline, McQuaid felt that it had the makings of a great race. "The route is interesting," he stated. "There is no doubt that it does suit climbers, I think, and as such it could therefore be declared quite a difficult Tour de France.
"In addition, there is no prologue, but rather a fifteen kilometre time trial which would mean that there will be reasonable gaps right from the beginning. That would give good time trialists an early advantage. Then there is a team time trial a couple of days later and that too would suit some riders.
"There are some good mountain stages, including Mont Ventoux on the second last day. Because of that, the [final overall] result won't be known until right before they arrive back in Paris…that'll keep the race interesting."