The traditional first big pro race of the season , Paris-Nice got underway under blustery conditions yesterday . The blustery conditions were in evidence both on and off the bikes .
Last week the stand off between cycling’s governing body , the UCI and the ASO who organise some of the top french races including Paris – Nice and the Tour de France came to a head . The UCI want the ASO to conform to the same rules that all other pro-tour races follow regarding teams participating etc. whilst the ASO want to run things their own way .
The UCI are trying to please WADA , the IOC and also trying to keep sponsors in the sport , whilst the ASO run what is effectively a major french commercial industry .
Last week the UCI threatened to suspend and sanction riders and teams who took part in Paris-Nice but the riders voted with their legs and 160 of the worlds’ top riders turned out for yesterdays prologue , including Irelands’ Philip Deignan .
There will be a meeting between the riders representatives and the UCI at the finish next Sunday but Ireland’s Pat McQuaid really seems to have inherited a poison chalice from his predecessor Hein Verbruggen .
As things stand the Astana team including last years tour winner , Alberto Contador and favourites Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden will be excluded from the tour . Whilst this looks good from an anti doping point of view , they should use the same rule across the board which would mean that only teams with absolutely no connection with any doping controversy whatsoever could participate . This could well mean a spot on the july start line in Paris for Comeragh cc or Dan Morrisey Carrick Wheelers !
On a different note regarding Paris – Nice , Sean Kelly won the race seven times . He was the worlds best rider at the time and this was always the seasons big opener for the pros . How did he train for it ? Well he used to do the normal Ballymac spin with the group and then maybe a lap of Glenbower or Fiddown afterwards . His longest spin during the winter was Ballymac then up the back road to Kilsheelan and then up Kearneys road and back to Carrick . The intensity was always high but not excessively so . Now many Irish amateurs do this training for C races . If things keep going like this , in 10 years time guys will be leaving home on January Sundays at 8.30 am and not returning home until 4.30 pm in order to get over Sliabh Mish in Tralee in the bunch !