French secretary vows to protect French riders

The French Sports Secretary, Bernard Laporte, visited Paris-Nice on Thursday to offer up his support of French riders who face possible bans from the Olympic Games or World Championships for participating in the rogue event, which was been sanctioned by the French Cycling Federation (FFC) against the rules of the International Cycling Union (UCI). The UCI announced last week that it would pursue sanctions for any rider who started the event, and began disciplinary action against the FFC and its president Jean Pitallier.

"My concern is to protect the French Cycling Federation, its president Jean Pitallier, which has done and is still doing an excellent job, and the riders," Laporte said at the finish of the fourth stage on the Mont Ventoux, according to AFP.

Laporte still kept open the prospect of mediation between the warring UCI and Amaury Sport Organisation, the organiser of Paris-Nice and the Tour de France. "I want to be the mediator in these quarrels, which had long existed, but on the condition that we listen to each other – that we discuss and find agreements that can be held to."

The Frenchman assured the riders from his country that they would participate at the World Championships, including the upcoming track championships at end of this month in Manchester.

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