McQuaid sees need for clarity in Grand Tour invitations
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Monday, March 29, 2010

McQuaid sees need for clarity in Grand Tour invitations

by Ben Atkins at 9:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a España

pat mcquaidPat McQuaid has spoken in response to the call from Vacansoleil team manager Hilaire Vanderschueren for political intervention in securing more invitations for Dutch teams at this year’s Tour de France. The UCI president spoke at a press conference, according to Het Nieuwsblad, expressing a need for change in the way that wild card invitations are awarded.

Both of the Netherlands’ Professional Continental teams have missed out on invitations to the Giro d’Italia – despite the fact that it starts in the Dutch capital Amsterdam – and the Ardennes classics of Liege-Bastogne-Liege and la Flèche Wallonne. Vanderschueren reasoned that since Dutch public money was being used to finance the Tour’s Grand Depart in the port of Rotterdam, politicians should use their influence with the race organisers, ASO, to ensure that more Dutch teams are invited.

“It’s ridiculous," said McQuaid on the situation. "This illustrates that the selection policy of the Grand Tours is becoming more and more like the Wild West. The Giro and Tour organisations can act like a Roman emperor. With a simple hand gesture the emperor can decide the fate of the gladiators."

In order to attract more high profile, big-money sponsors into the sport, McQuaid and the UCI feel that those companies should be offered certain guaranteed returns on their investment. The largely unsuccessful ProTour was introduced partly to enable fans to follow the big teams in the big races, but also to guarantee that a company investing large amounts of money in the sport would know that it would get invited to the big races – particularly the Tour de France.

The experiment was foiled partly because the organisers of the Grand Tours – ASO in France, RCS Sport in Italy, and Unipublic in Spain – wanted to maintain control of who would be at their races. Now it seems that McQuaid and the UCI want to take back control again.

"That’s something you can’t sell to multinationals annually investing 15 million euro in a cycling team,” he said of the uncertainty around Grand Tour invitations. “They have to know where they stand. Therefore there must be a clear selection policy come next year, which will largely derive from the wildcards."


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