By Jean-François Quénet in Cannes
The president of the French Cycling Federation (FFC) Jean Pitallier attended stage six of Paris-Nice, and made a show in Sisteron on the starting podium calling for a rebellion like the leaders of the French Revolution did prior to their assault to the Bastille jail back in 1789. The target of the UCI's wrath for sanctioning the race outside the control of the UCI, Pitallier singled out the executive board of the UCI, not naming names, but said, "At this stage, they'd better resign." The executive board consists of President Pat McQuaid, and Vice President Ray Godkin and Hein Verbruggen.
Singling out Verbruggen, Pitallier criticized the ProTour inventor. "His ambition is to be the Bernie Ecclestone of cycling," Pitallier stated. "He wants to make cycling a private company." Pitallier this week appealed for support from the five allied cycling federations from Austria, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Luxembourg in a letter.
The same federations together informed the UCI of their plans to sanction the events of the three Grand Tour organisers, ASO, RCS Sport and Unipublic in January. After meeting with McQuaid at the World Cyclo-cross championships in Treviso in January, they swung back over to the side of the UCI and agreed with placing the races in question on a special calendar of monuments. The French federation went back on that agreement, siding with the ASO and moving forward with holding Paris-Nice under its aegis. The federations now wish the UCI to stop any disciplinary procedure against the French federation after it allowed Paris-Nice to be held without the cooperation and the regulations of the UCI.
"Legally, I couldn't fail to give my approval to let Paris-Nice be held," Pitallier said. This confirmed the words of French secretary of Sports Bernard Laporte on the Mont Ventoux on Thursday. The FFC's agreement to help ASO organize Paris-Nice was an instruction by the French government.
The FFC has been threatened with suspension by the UCI for its part in the Paris-Nice organisation. "But I haven't received anything from the UCI about that," Pitallier explained. "At least we should be informed other than via the media. To threaten the riders is an irresponsible attitude by the UCI."
It was suggested that French riders wouldn't be able to contest the track World's in Manchester (March 27-30) after McQuaid placed ineligibility for the World Championships and Olympics on the list of sanctions. "I'll personally go to Manchester," Pitallier warned. "They would need to put up chains to prevent the French riders from competing. Our strategy is to inform the other national federations of what the UCI is doing. They are in the process of killing cycling. When cycling will be dead, it will be too late."
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