Italian Paolo Bettini has reacted to the issues that divide the UCI ProTour and the Grand Tour organisers, while concerned his sport may be losing interest from its financial backers. The World Champion noted on Sunday during a ceremony in Castellina (Toscana) that the rules governing cycling need to be rewritten.
"Today, it is everyone against everyone," said the rider from La California to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The federations against the organisers, and then the teams, riders, doctors and technicians. And it goes on like this ... However, cycling is not dead, it is not dying, it will not die. It is embedded in the people: in the heart, the legs, the eyes. However, there is the risk of sponsors leaving, and this could ruin everything. Before, you would need a month to convince a company to invest in cycling, now you need about 10 years."
The winner of the 2006 Giro di Lombardia and two consecutive World Championships in 2006 and 2007 noted there is a need for an accord. "We need to sit down at the table and rewrite the rules. The ProTour, for example, was reasonable but now it is shattered. Who can think of a race circuit without the Giro and Tour, Sanremo and Roubaix? Races that have written the story of cycling and have attracted the people.
"It is like in football, they said that the Champions League would no longer exist and instead there is the 'cup of who knows what,' only because there, maybe, there is extra money involved."
Bettini alluded to the Tour Down Under's new ProTour status. "Before when you would go race in Australia the trip was paid for, and certain European teams would go. Now you have to race, and it costs [the team] about 30 to 40 thousand euro."