Tour organisers and UCI strike deal to end row

Updated: September 25, 2008, 5:31 PM ET
Reuters

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By Gilles Le Roc'h

VARESE, Italy, Sept 25 - The International Cycling Union (UCI) and the Tour de France organisers have reached an agreement that puts an end to their long-running feud over the sport's calendar, UCI president Pat McQuaid said on Thursday.

Talks had been underway since the Beijing Olympics in August when Marie-Odile Amaury, head of the Amaury media and sports promotion group ASO, which owns the Tour de France, approached the UCI to settle their dispute.

ASO and the UCI had been at odds since the launching in 2005 of the UCI ProTour series, which was seen by the organisers of the big Tours as a means by the UCI to take over their broadcasting and marketing rights.

Asked by Reuters whether a deal had been struck, McQuaid said "Yes", without elaborating.

ASO sources also confirmed an agreement had been obtained, without giving any details.

McQuaid, who is in Varese for the world road championships, handed documents to the head of the French Cycling Federation (FFC), Jean Pitallier, informing him that all charges against the FFC had been dropped.

This year's Tour de France was held under the jurisdiction of the FFC because of the feud between the UCI and ASO.

As a result, the FFC, which held other ASO races outside the UCI's umbrella, faced exclusion by the sport's governing body, which could have prevented French riders from competing at the world championships or the Olympic Games.

At a press conference in Beijing in August, McQuaid had announced that a deal was being discussed with ASO which put an end to the ProTour and led to a new world calendar, the details of which have not yet been disclosed.

News of the agreement came after former UCI president and IOC member Hein Verbruggen, often described by ASO as the main obstacle to a deal, announced he was giving up his position as UCI vice-president. (Additional reporting by Francois Thomazeau in Paris, editing by Rex Gowar)

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