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UCI president Brian Cookson vented a blend of aggravation and confidence in cycling’s brewing turf war with Tour de France organizer ASO.

Photo: Sirotti

ASO

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BRIAN COOKSON

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CHRISTIAN PRUDHOMME

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UCI

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25.01.2016 @ 10:01 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

When talking to the press Saturday during his visit to the Santos Tour Down Under, Cookson sought to minimize the implications of the mounting clash, but voiced his annoyance that ASO decided to withdraw some of its major events, such as the Tour de France, the Vuelta a España and the Paris-Roubaix, from the 2017 WorldTour itinerary.

 

“It was a surprise and disappointment after two years of talks and consensus building that one major player decided they didn’t want to be part of it,” Cookson said of ASO’s sudden departure according to Velonews.com. “We’re not about to enter into a war with ASO. The UCI’s been down that road before.”

 

Cookson made his observations in response to ASO’s sudden decision in December to the pull some of the organisation’s most prestigious races out of the WorldTour calendar. The French race organizer said it disagrees with the UCI’s proposed renewal of the WorldTour system that focused on giving up to 18 WorldTour teams three-year licenses. Such a guarantee, teams argue, will improve their financial foundation as it makes their quest for sponsorship backing a lot easier.

 

“I don’t think [three-year] licenses are a big deal, but this is something that ASO has been challenged by,” Cookson said. “What we’re trying to do is encourage teams to have greater financial stability. One-year licenses are a recipe for instability.”

 

Cookson expressed his dissatisfaction at ASO’s course of action. “It’s regrettable that they are not being cooperative with the new plans,” Cookson said. “The latest set of proposals are not radical, but a step forward in the right direction. The other stakeholders are happy with what was proposed. ASO perhaps can be persuaded, and there could be some ground for movement. We are not ruling anything out.”

 

A scheduled meeting between Cookson and Tour director Christian Prudhomme in Australia had to be cancelled as the latter was unable to fly down under, citing last minute travelling conflicts.

 

“I was hoping Prudhomme would be here this week for an informal chat. I hopeful that we can find a solution,” he said. “I wouldn’t have thought so [about Prudhomme’s cancelation]. I don’t think they’re afraid to talk to me. Let’s not put too much into that. It’s not impossible to run the WorldTour without the ASO events, but they are some of the biggest and best events. We do want them to be part of it,” he said.

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