The Union Cycliste Internationale is threatening TdF teams and riders with sanctions if they take part in this year's race.

UCI calls the bluff of Tour de France teams

Teams and riders will, of course, side with ASO, owner of the Tour de France.

The Tour de France is cycling’s biggest race and the UCI has – again – shown itself to be powerless to stop ASO doing whatever it likes with the event it owns.

The current spat is all to do with ASO deciding to register the Tour de France on the national calendar of the French Cycling Federation (FFC) rather than on the UCI’s international calendar, which the UCI is now calling the "historical calendar."

Citing, without a shred of irony, the "unity of the cycling family", the UCI said it considers the FFC’s support for ASO’s registration "deeply regrettable for sport".

In a press statement issued from the bowels of the UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland, the UCI said it considers it "entirely inappropriate that ASO, with the support of the FFC, should have chosen to announce this by press conference, without having informed the [UCI] beforehand. This provides further evidence of ASO’s wish to disregard the UCI’s authority in international cycling."

The UCI – which pushed through its idea for a money-making ProTour against the advice of the Grand Tour organising companies – said ASO’s decision is "bad for cycling."

"Given that the Tour de France will now take place outside the ambit of the UCI, it will not benefit from the oversight of International Commissaires, or from the involvement of the UCI Anti-doping Inspectors. Riders and teams will, by participating, expose themselves to sanctions, and ASO’s leaders alone are to blame for this.

"ASO has demonstrated by these actions that it intends to follow its own rules, within a structure it has itself created. This year, it will deny the winner of last year’s Tour de France the opportunity to defend his title. The UCI believes it is absolutely vital to fight against such aberrations."

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