ProTour Crisis Averted, Paris-Nice a Go

Mar 6 2007

Cycling is kind of like James Bond in that it has a habit of defusing bombs with exactly 0:07 left on the timer – not at the last second, but perilously close.

It’s also like James Bond in that its recurring long-term problems never get properly addressed. Take doping, for example; the fact that Operation Puerto still hasn’t brought about any officially sanctioned punishments is kind of like how there’s no scene at the end of You Only Live Twice where Moneypenny says “James, I’ve got some woman named ‘Domino’ on hold – she says she knows you faked your death, that your wife’s dead, and that you’re not George Lazenby, and she’s STILL waiting for that child support check. What should I tell her?”

Where was I going with this, again? Ah, yes. The Cartel v. UCI bout has been resolved, though exactly how resolved it is depends on who you talk to. While the terms may be set (Cartel must invite 18 ProTour teams to races, must consider Astana and Unibet in a “positive light” when choosing wild cards; no ProTour logo at Cartel races, ProTour leader may still wear jersey), the precise functional nature of this solution is kinda up in the air.

Cyclingnews seems to think it means Astana and Unibet are good to go; ProCycling is a bit more cautious, while team management thinks it’s the end of the world, and has already mobilized the legal departement. The agreement is slated to last throughout the season, at which point, we can expect this whole wearisome process to begin anew. Joy.

In the short term, though, this means we can all look forward to an exciting (i.e. contested by racers we’ve heard of before) Paris-Nice. Though it’s often called “the race to the sun”, I a better name would be “Escape from Paris!”. Unlike the Tour de France, which meanders pointlessly about, Paris-Nice makes a B-line for the Riviera, hoping to reach warmer climes before the peloton freezes to death.

P-N’s Hall of Victors is pockmarked by such TdF coulda-beens as Tony Rominger, Sean Kelly, Raymond Poulidor, Laurent Jalabert, Alex Zulle and Bobby Julich. Who will be the next rider to bravely take up the black mark of Paris-Nice Champion? Find out LIVE next week, only on Cycling.TV.

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