ProTour power struggle continues
By Hedwig Kröner
The Management Committee of the International Pro Cycling Teams Organisation (AIGCP) has held a meeting in San Sebastian, Spain, one day prior to the ProTour Classic of the same name and has, in an official communiqué, reiterated its support of the International Cycling Union (UCI) in its conflict with the Grand Tour organisers.
AIGCP president Patrick Lefévère is ready to determine the future of the ProTour in further talks with the UCI and all parties concerned. Topics of discussion are, amongst others, the rebalancing of the ProTour calendar, the number of teams and organisers' licences in the second licensing phase after 2009, the number of racing days in stage races as well as a possible rescheduling of the 2006 World Championships to the end of August.
If the ProTeams are not bound to participate in the Vuelta a España because it won't be part of the ProTour after this season, this last point suggests that many of the teams represented in the AIGCP do not plan to include the Vuelta in their racing program as of next year. Bearing in mind that the Vuelta has served as a preparation for the World Champs since the early nineties - but only because the latter event took place after the tour - the late season date of the World's seems to be subject of negotiation again. In this light, the rescheduling of the World's could be one more weight in the power struggle between the UCI and the Grand Tour organisers, who still hold nearly all of the top races and a sizeable proportion of the sport's media coverage in their hands.
"The AIGCP will respect all agreements made in 2005 and asks [the UCI] for confirmation on the decision taken by the ProTour Council on April 11, 2005, i.e. the right and not the obligation to participate in the Grand Tours and the monuments which would not be part of the ProTour in 2006," the communiqué finishes.