UCI convoy position system questioned
By Brecht Decaluwé in Roubaix, France
While expected rain never arrived at the Paris-Roubaix's 106th running on Sunday, Amaury Sport Organisation cycling director Christian Prudhomme is happy with how the event unfolded. The French director described how pleased he was to see a Paris-Roubaix where the big guns battled each other in the finale, despite the lack of bad weather that – according to sadist cycling fans – is an essential ingredient for the 'Hell of the North'.
"Some people say Paris-Roubaix needs rain, but I think that even without rain we've seen a fantastic race," said Prudhomme. "It was a great finale with those three men [Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara and Alessandro Ballan] out there. They are the reference in this type of races."
Despite the multiple battles between the ASO and the UCI in the past, it turned out that Paris-Roubaix was organised under the authority of the UCI. The French Cycling Federation (FFC) asked ASO to have the race on a UCI-calendar two weeks ago, and eventually Paris-Roubaix featured on the international governing body's 'historical calendar'. That calendar features as a 'lubricant' for races that are inflicted in the conflict between the UCI and race organisers, of which ASO is the most well known. "It's a first step towards the end of the conflict," the FFC claimed.
As a result of this agreement it was up to the UCI to make the decision in the formation of team cars behind the peloton. As the event is not part of the ProTour calendar, there's no ranking to derive the order from. ASO suggested deriving a ranking from the Milano-Sanremo and Ronde van Vlaanderen results, but the UCI didn't agree.
Instead the UCI put in place a lottery system, where teams would be drawn out of a hat in their start order. The system was unlucky for Silence-Lotto and Liquigas, while Saunier Duval-Scott was lucky to pick number one and the team of eventual winner Boonen, team Quick Step, started fifth.
The UCI's solution wasn't exactly something that pleased everybody. Silence-Lotto's director sportif Herman Frison said the battle between the UCI and ASO impacted on the team's Paris-Roubaix hopes with Leif Hoste as a result of the squad's poor convoy position.
"We are the victim of the row between the UCI and the ASO," said Frison. "Of course this couldn't be solved right away, but it is about time that the teams come together to figure out a system for the order in these races [on the historical calendar].
"I've got nothing against Continental teams, but they had five teams in the top-10," he added. "That's a little bit frustrating, because the stakes are much higher for us."
Silence-Lotto tried to solve the problem by organising a network of mechanics with wheels and bikes along the course. Eventually Hoste proved not to be as strong as Boonen, Ballan and Cancellara, and he missed the cut when they jumped away towards the podium. To his credit, Hoste didn't get into stories about team cars being too far away after the race though. "I wasn't bad, but the three others were better," Hoste said after the race. "So, I don't need to search for excuses."
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