There was more damaging news for the UCI's ProTour on Thursday when Cofidis announced it would not renew its ProTour licence in 2009. The French team will instead apply for a Continental Professional licence next year, a much cheaper alternative which still allows it to appear in most major races across Europe. Cofidis said it wanted to concentrate its racing in countries where it had a commercial presence.
"Today, having a ProTour licence means making big investments which are not always financially viable because it takes the Cofidis team to more and more countries in which it has no operations," read a team statement according to AFP. "The French and European races on the Continental Pro calendar provide sufficient opportunity for us to achieve our commercial aims."
Since its launch three years ago, the ProTour has been forced to change shape considerably after disagreements with organisers of the three Grand Tours forced the UCI to re-think the concept. Despite the addition of Australia's Tour Down Under, this year's series contains just 16 events compared to 26 the year before, and even smaller races, such as Malaysia's Le Tour de Langkawi, have said openly that being part of the ProTour calendar is not important for them.