The UCI have warned that it is ?against ProTour rules? for any ProTour team to take part in the new-style Paris-Nice and that ?any team participating will face penatlies.?
Contacted by CW on Thursday, ProTour manager Alain Rumpf confirmed that all the ProTour teams had been sent a communique on Wednesday evening by the UCI telling them it was now ?against the rules? for them to take part in Paris-Nice.
On Wednesday Paris-Nice organisers ASO and the French cycling federation reached an agreement designed to permit the race to take place outside the ProTour and to be run as a ?national event.? However, as Rumpf specified to CW, UCI regulations state that no ProTour team can take part in an event of this category.
?This is consistent with our regulations.? Rumpf said. ?Like race organisers, teams have to follow the rules. If they don’t they’ll face the consequences.?
Perhaps crucially, Rumpf refused to specify what consequences a ProTour team that ignored the UCI?s instructions and took part in Paris-Nice – as some squads said a couple of weeks back they would do – would actually have.
?It?s not clear yet. I would like to think we don?t get to the extreme of penalising a team for doing this. I fully expect them to respect the rules and not take part in Paris-Nice.?
The ProTour circuit as it stands still contains enough events to make simply abandoning the series and ignoring the UCI communique a tough step for the teams to make. Just in the spring, the Tour of Flanders, Ghent-Wevelgem and the Tour of the Basque Country all remain ProTour events.
Rumpf laid the blame for the heightening of tension between the UCI and the rebel race organisers fairly and squarely on ASO and Italian organiser RCS. ?This latest situation is a direct consequence of what they have done up to now.?
Perhaps most dramatically of all, Rumpf said that the same scenario could even arise in the Tour de France, ?although I hope the teams will continue to respect the rules.?
How the teams react to this latest development could prove crucial to the development of the overall crisis between the UCI and the race organisers. If there is a mass abandon of Paris-Nice by the ProTour teams, for example, it would make it more complicated for the event to go ahead.