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By VeloNews Interactive
The first major stage race of the 2002 season, Paris-Nice, scheduled March 10-17, will “certainly canceled” according to the event organizer Laurent Fignon, who broke off negotiations on Friday to sell the event to the Tour de France promoters.
The discussions started last week between Daniel Baal, director-general of the Société du Tour de France, and Fignon, the two-time Tour de France winner, but came to an end for financial reasons after appearing to start out well Friday morning.
A press release issued by the Tour’s parent company, ASO (Amaury Sport Organization) stated: “Despite a difficult context and the proximity of the 2002 edition, ASO had proposed the immediate takeover of the event for the price that Laurent Fignon acquired the race in 1999. This proposition was not accepted by Laurent Fignon.”
Commenting on the failed discussions, Fignon told AFP, “I was in agreement with the resale price, but not with the conditions of payment. I would be left without a cent, everything would be held by the lawyers.”
Fignon has had to confront serious financial difficulties this year. He estimated that an extra $300,000 was needed to retain the event, which could recommence in 2003. “I have a solution to come back,” he said, ” but for this year Paris-Nice is certain to be canceled.”
Fignon, still smiling after the breakdown in the talks, complained about the manner in which they were conducted. “They all arrived in a group with businessmen who were not part of the Société. In fact, they made the whole thing a mess,” Fignon added.
Copyright AFP 2002