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Power Struggles

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Today's news is dominated by the ongoing fight over who calls the shots in the world of Pro Cycling. It's hardly news, since this saga has been going on for over a year, but the latest flareup where the Giro di Lombardia owners refused to accommodate a ceremony honoring Alejandro Valverde as the Pro Tour winner has gone over about as well as Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount.

Today, VeloNews reports that the Pro Tour teams are mostly blowing off Thursday's 2007 Tour de France rollout, with 11 teams completely absent. ASO, always looking on the bright side, touts the headliners still planning to attend:

Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne), David Millar, Gilberto Simoni, José Angel Marchante and Davide de la Fuente (all Saunier Duval-Prodir), Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner), Samuel Sanchez, Haimar Zubeldia and Igor Anton (all Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis).

Wow, hope the glare of those stars isn't too blinding. In a true ASO class act, UCI president Pat McQuaid wasn't even invited. I'm sure there are two sides to this story, but it's pretty hard to sympathize with the grand tours when they act like such jackasses. Anyway, after last year, riders could be forgiven for not wanting to listen to ASO folks rant about past winners, as they're sure to do in the wake of Landis-gate, so maybe the boycott is a trumped up excuse to do something fun instead, like ride the trainer.

Meanwhile, CN reports that the Association of Professional Cyclists, the riders' union, has formed a "Riders' Council" made up of guys like Jens Voigt, José Luis Rubiera, Matthias Kessler, Michael Rogers, Philippe Gilbert, Iñigo Cuesta, Cédric Vasseur, Thomas Dekker, George Hincapie, Filippo Pozzato, Dario Cioni, Fabian Cancellara, Roger Hammond, José Azevedo, and maybe Denis Menchov and Thor Hushovd.

I can't fathom what they have in mind, but CN says their first job will be "to analyze the main problems the riders have to face within the framework of their activity and to collect their suggestions." Perhaps this council will form a third force within the battle for Pro Tour legitimacy, or maybe the UCI will find itself getting pinched from both directions. If someone out there can explain the riders' union's job to me, I'd love to hear it.