The French Cycling Federation [FFC] have signed a deal with Paris-Nice organisers ASO on Wednesday designed to permit the race to go ahead outside the ProTour.

Under the agreement, French Federation officials will now oversee internal race regulations for the eight day event, instead of the UCI.

The deal is expected to widen the rift between the ProTour and ASO. The French organisers, who also run the Tour, Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, announced last December that they were pulling all their events out of cycling?s top league, backed by the UCI. Using federation officials is a strategy the other organisers other races currently not wanting to form part of the ProTour - like the Giro and Vuelta - may well imitate in the future.

?I have signed the agreement with ASO.? FFC president Jean Pitallier confirmed. ?This is a way of saving a race which forms part of cycling?s culture. This is an exceptional situation and it requires an exceptional response.?

Pitallier argued that French law and regulations from the French ?Code du Sport? provided legal justification for his actions backing Paris-Nice.

The agreement comes just 48 hours after talks between ASO and the UCI about the ProTour collapsed without any solution being reached. Paris-Nice is due to start on March 11th.

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