After it finished 20th of the International Cycling Union's ProTour ranking this season, French squad Cofidis will next year race without ProTour status. While team manager Eric Boyer is upset about being relegated to the Professional Continental level, he has also criticised the governing body's points system, and said it did not represent the team's quality as a whole.
"The system of attribution of the points does not completely reflect the value of the teams," Boyer told Cyclingnews on Friday morning, from the team's training camp in Gréoux-les-Bains, French Alps. The team manager explained that while it was good to have a system to determine the most appropriate teams to ride the top races, he feels that the current ProTour points system should take into account more factors than it does.
At the moment, teams score points for the ProTour ranking when they win, or place top ten in one-day races or stage races (top-20 in the Grand Tours). Stage victories are also rewarded, but the mountains or points jerseys at stage races, including the Grand Tours, do not count for ProTour points.
"The team classification, for example, counts for nothing," added Boyer. "We finished fifth in the teams classification in the Vuelta - that does imply that we belong to the elite of pro cycling, doesn't it? David Moncoutié finished best climber of the Dauphiné Libéré and the Vuelta a España, but this did not help us in the ProTour ranking, either."
The former president of the professional teams association AIGCP explained further that while he did not like it, the team's strategy for next year will be to ride less offensively to score more points and hopefully make the cut for the 2011 ProTour.
"This season, we did not take into a account this points system, standing at the start line of a race," he continued. "We are not there to score points, but to win races. That's not how I conceive pro cycling - you don't start a race thinking 'I can become fifth and score some points for my team'. Still, next year, we will look to ride less offensively in the hope to score points by achieving top ten placings."
Boyer regretted this deeply - for the fans and for his sponsor - but said "those are the rules of the game that the UCI created. Only the top ten placings of general classification at most Tours are awarded points. But I think cycling is a subtle sport and I think it's only by taking into account the whole of the data that you can show the value of a team."
Finding yet more arguments, Boyer cited the case of other ProTour teams. "I know teams that hardly won races this season, that still made the ProTour next year. One team only won three or four races, but scored enough points to become 15th or 16th of the ranking and keep their ProTour status - and that's fine for them. This year, we won 14 races, but we didn't make the cut. Maybe in 2010 we will win only three or four times, but become 14th or 15th in the ranking and come back to the ProTour. It's ridiculous.
"It's a pity that if you ride aggressively, under these rules, you punish yourself and your team. You're almost forced to calculate, and I don't like that, because that's not what our sport is about."