The IPCT teams will decide today whether they will race Paris-Nice. Also, Lefevere to sue HLN for âé¬
PIC BY PETE GODING Paris-Nice conflict decided today The international professional cycling teams association (IPCT) will meet in Brussels today to decide whether to take part in Paris-Nice on March 11. The decision is vital in determining how the ongoing dispute between the UCI and the three big organisers will end up. So far, the UCI has threatened ProTour teams with “heavy sanctions” if they race Paris-Nice, while organiser ASO has said that if the teams don’t race, they see no reason why they will have a different opinion when it comes to races like the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix, which are also organised by ASO. UCI president Pat McQuaid claimed that he had support from a number of teams following a meeting at the Tour of California last week, but IPCT president Patrick LefÂvÂre was quoted by Het Nieuwsblad as saying that this was “absolutely incorrect. We said that we would not give any comments about our discussions in America, and then he happily goes and says that we’re on his side. I’m sick and tired of that sort of thing. How do you think ASO will react? You see, the IPCT is being dictated to by the UCI. While we are definitely an independent organisation.” On Thursday, six national federations (Austria, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and Luxembourg) wrote an open letter calling for an end to the dispute as quickly as possible. “It is urgent that a working group be created from among the national federations concerned but independent of those currently involved in the conflict over the UCI ProTour,” they wrote. “Its aim will be to hold discussions with all those involved in cycling and to formulate short and medium term solutions that are acceptable to all.” “The time to talk about the rules, to take half-measures and send mixed messages to the world is over. There must be a solution found now. That is essential, otherwise the sport of cycling cannot function.” Lefevere to sue Het Laatste Nieuws for _20.5 million Quick.Step team manager Patrick LefÂvÂre will sue Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws for libel for a sum of _20.5 million. He claims that the paper published a series of “taunting and insulting articles” which accused him and his team of being involved in systematic doping for years. “Since January 23 there is a stain on the name of Patrick LefÂvÂre,” said his lawyer Chris Declerck to Het Nieuwsblad. “His name and image will never be the same again, and so are suing for three million [personal damage]. But there is more, for in December 2006 LefÂvÂre had an agreement in principle with a new sponsor. From 2008, the sponsor would have invested _3.5 million annually for between four and six years. That sponsor pulled out after the articles in the newspaper.” HLN journalist Maarten Michielssens, who wrote the articles, and the newspaper itself have been summoned to appear in court in Brussels on March 16. Million dollar race presented Spanish organiser Unipublic has presented its “million dollar race” that will take place in the United Arab Emirates between November 2 and 5. Dubbed the “The Abu Dhabi Cycling Race of Champions 2007”, the race will be run over three stages: one flat, one mountain and one individual time trial. The overall prize? One million dollars. The race will kick off on November 2 with a flat, 100 km stage through the streets of Abu Dhabi city. The stage will start and finish near Marina Mall, commencing with a 44 km loop around the island of Abu Dhabi followed by three laps of an 18 km city circuit. Stage 2 will start in Al Ain with an 18 km circuit around the zoo, followed by a climb to Jebel Hafeet for the finish. The total distance for the stage will be 90 km. The riders will have a rest day on day three, and finish off with a 24 km individual time trial on day 4. This leg will start and finish at the Emirates Palaces Hotel. The teams taking part in the race will be drawn from the winners (individual and team) of the three grand tours. An additional five teams will be selected by the organisers. Each team will consist of six riders. Women’s World Cup opens in Australia The UCI Women’s Road World Cup will begin on Saturday in Geelong, Australia. 21 teams from 16 countries be lining up at the start of the event, which will be raced over eight laps of a 15 km circuit for a total of 120 km. The field will include defending world cup champion and recent Geelong women’s tour winner Nicole Cooke (Raleigh), as well as the in-form Ina Teutenberg from the powerful T-Mobile squad. Her teammates include Australians Oenone Wood and Kate Bates, who will be keen to perform on home soil. Susanne Ljungskog (Flexpoint), Regina Schleicher (NÂrnberger), Olivia Gollan (Menikini Gysko), and Sarah Ulmer (NZ National Team) will also be ones to watch. British Cyclosportive filling up Over 3000 riders have already signed up to do the British Cyclosportive, which closely follows the route of the first stage of the Tour de France, on July 1. Entries went live at noon on Thursday, and the official website, www.everydaycycling.com was jammed with requests. There are a maximum of 5000 places available for the ride, which will cover 120 miles between Greenwich and Canterbury. “Interest in the Cyclosportive has been sky-high since we confirmed the route two weeks ago,” said Simon Lillistone of British Cycling. “The Tour de France hasn’t visited Britain since 1994, and we’re not sure when it’s likely to return so the Cyclosportive provides a rare opportunity to ride a stage of Le Tour on home soil.” Besides entering online, you can also call Pennine Events on +44 (0)1695 682020. Entries cost £40, including a £2 voluntary donation to the Geoff Thomas Foundation. Transport back to the start is available at a cost of £12. Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.