Australia maintains hopes for future Tour de France team despite recent ProTour news

News of the ProTour teams withdrawing from the UCI's Pro Tour for 2009 have not dashed hopes that an...

News of the ProTour teams withdrawing from the UCI's Pro Tour for 2009 have not dashed hopes that an Australian team will participate in the Tour de France by 2010.

Australian Road Cycling's Director Victor Barichello said, "News of the decision... of the professional teams not to renew their UCI Pro Tour licences does not come as a complete surprise. We have been well aware of the issues surrounding the difference of opinion between the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO, which runs the Tour De France) and the UCI for quite a while now.

"The discontent has been brewing for some time, and there have been few signs of a peaceful and constructive resolution," he said. "It has been clear for some time that the organisation of cycling was experiencing difficulties, and that it had to adopt a strategy to overcome them."

Barichello hoped the teams' decision would benefit cycling, but indicated that his organization's long-term goal remained the same. "Our aim is to ensure that an Australian team competes in the Tour De France by 2010."

Not taking sides in the ongoing dispute involving the UCI, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) and ProTour teams, he said, "ARC continues to remain respectful of the need for the major organisations and the governing body to sort out their differences and to move forward." His organization is openly in discussions with all major players in the sport, and he explained his view on what would benefit professional cycling.

"Most important is that we have a structure that is representative of the professional teams and endorsed unanimously by them, rather than having a division in the very backbone of the sport."

Happy to see the teams collaborating amidst the uncertainty of cycling's organizational future, he said, "Although the way forward is being mapped out even as we speak, there is hope that the teams understand the importance of working together for the good of the sport."

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