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Pro Teams Remove the Middle Man

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Not surprisingly, the Grand Tours vs. the UCI saga continues to get curiouser and curiouser. Yesterday, UCI honcho Pat McQuaid got on his bullhorn again and blasted the grand tours for "not following the rules" about including Pro Tour teams in the sport's three biggest stage races. This was in response to the Giro d'Italia's decision not to invite Astana, Bouygues Telecom, Credit Agricole, or (for now) High Road. It also served McQuaid's signature form of notice on ASO that they risk further blasts of fiery rhetoric if they follow the Giro's lead in barring any Pro Tour teams from Le Tour.

Smartly, though, a delegation of the teams themselves want to meet grand tour organizers and sort this out. This has two benefits: removing McQuaid and the whole power struggle from the mix, and allowing the teams to plead their cases individually, whereupon they could conceivably talk their way into the invites they want. IMHO the grand tours generally want two things: freedom from UCI dictates, and teams who are committed to their races. A pro tour squad manager who shows up in person and pledges to unleash wattage hell on the Giro is probably going to receive fair and favorable treatment, I'm guessing. And if the teams can get the assurances they want without the UCI baggage, I imagine that more than serves their purposes.