With Paris-Nice getting ready to start, the UCI is pressuring teams to withdrawal from the “former” ProTour event. I have not figured out what leverage Pat McQuaid decided to use in order to convince the ProTour teams to comply but there have been some rumblings that some of the teams were considering withdrawing from the March 11th event.
Apparently, the rumblings were enough for ASO boss Patrice Clerc to remove the picture from his office, take the key from the safe, walk down to the silo, turn the key and launch the Big One. No Paris-Nice, no Tour de France.
Patrice got everyone’s attention. Responding the the inevatable jaw dropped crowd, he said:
“All the 18 teams we had invited have confirmed that they wanted to participate in Paris-Nice. Remember, in December we said that they weren’t obliged to do so. Now, until two weeks ago, all the teams had their participation confirmed. But if certain teams do not want to participate in Paris-Nice anymore today, they have to explain themselves.
“If this is because of budget reasons, or a change of strategy of the sponsor, we could examine this, and understand. But if the reason is that they obey to a boycott of the UCI, I don’t see why this would be different with regard to the other races that we organise. If they decide not to race Paris-Nice, because they’ve been told to boycott our competitions, then this applies to all of our races. Why one and not the other?”
Expect launches from Unipublic (Vuelta) and RCS Sport (Giro). I don’t know where things go from here but the gauntlet has been clearly thrown down. Hopefully, Pat McQuaid did not throw away the UCI World Cup manual. Collectors, you may want to lay in a supply of white ProTour jerseys to put with your XFL footballs, USFL jerseys, and World Team Tennis T-Shirts.