- Article published:
- December 09, 2005, 0:00 GMT
- Shane Stokes and Hedwig KrÃ¶ner
By Shane Stokes and Hedwig Kröner The UCI’s ProTour project looks to be under big pressure following...
By Shane Stokes and Hedwig Kröner
The UCI’s ProTour project looks to be under big pressure following the news that the organisers of the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España have pulled out of the series with immediate effect. Speaking at a press conference today, the organisers announced that they are also withdrawing the eight other races organised by them, namely Paris Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Paris-Tours and the Tour of Lombardy.
The three Grand Tour organisers and the UCI had been at loggerheads in recent weeks, their long-running disagreement about the direction of the ProTour escalating after the launch of the 2006 Tour de France.
UCI President Pat McQuaid stated this week that remarks made there by ASO’s Patrice Clerc rejecting the ProTour in its current format had led to a hardening of the UCI’s stance. The Irishman said that “unless the organisers come down off their fence and are willing to make some compromises, no progress can be made.“ However, today’s announcement shows that the Grand Tour organisers have decided to go it alone, removing 11 historic races from the ProTour and taking much of the lustre from the competition.
For 2006, the 20 ProTour teams will still have the right to participate in each of these events, with two wild-card teams likely to be invited. Should any ProTour team elect not to participate, the number of wildcard teams would presumably rise to ensure a full field.
In 2007, the 14 best teams of a yet to be established point system, plus a maximum number of eight wildcards for the Grand Tours will be eligible to take part. The statement said that, "a points system , which will value the performances of the teams in the different classifications of each of the Grand Tours, will be established soon with the help of experts....