Team bosses at the Tour of California will meet tonight (Friday 23) to continue discussions on where they stand on the row between the sports governing body, the UCI, and Tour de France organisers ASO.
The meeting will be the first of many as the situation is set to escalate daily between now and the start of Paris Nice on March 11. Pat McQuaid flew in to the US to meet with the ProTour teams that are caught in the middle of a tug of war after the UCI threatened them with sanctions should they compete in Paris Nice now it is not a ProTour race, ?I feel like a child who?s parents have divorced,? Gerolsteiner team boss Hans-Michael Holczer said.
?If I don?t go to Paris Nice I can?t ride the Tour and my sponsors wont accept that. But if I do go to Paris Nice they [the UCI] take my licence and I can?t ride the Deutschland tour.?
With many involved genuinely worried about the future of the sport, it is more crucial than ever that the teams unite if they are to force either the UCI or ASO to lower their guns.
?We?re pushing hard for a solution with everybody,? T-Mobile boss Bob Stapleton said. ?It?s a tough call for us. We believe in the ProTour, we think it?s the way forward, and this is a really tough dilemma. We?re hopeful of a solution and want to push hard for that. We have to support the ProTour.?
But Stapleton was equally worried that the teams are about to waste an opportunity because of an inability to work together, ?If you can?t 100 percent unify around doping, then you wont unify around this. You?re going to have a similar split decision like you do with Discovery. You?ll have half that are willing to forgo an event and try and further the sport, and the other half that will cut and run.?
?I think the teams have to decide what?s in their longer term interests, and is that truly a champions league of cycling, or is it back to 1960. Obviously sponsors want to see their riders on bikes, and athletes want to be on bikes. But this is an important step for the sport; to be able to work together and really grow the sport and not have this constant battle and different factions.?