At the presentation of the Henninger Turm one-day race in Frankfurt, scheduled for May 1, Gerolsteiner team manager Hans-Michael Holczer spoke to the attending German media about the rift between the Grand Tour organisers and the International Cycling Union (UCI), detailing his supposition that Tour de France organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) is seeking to create a new race series for the coming season.
The race organisers and UCI have been at odds over the ProTour for four years now, and with ASO as well as its Italian counterpart RCS Sport selecting team participation independently this year, the conflict has come to a point of no return. Holczer suspected that the Grand Tours, together with such 'monuments' as Milano-Sanremo, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro di Lombardia, will be forming a new circuit parallel to the ProTour in 2009.
"This proposal will come," said the Gerolsteiner manager to Radsportnews. "I assume that there will be a distinct calendar soon." However, Holczer did not think that the race organisers were seeking to create a new federation. "Nobody wants a state like in boxing! That would be the end of cycling," he added.
The key to an end of the conflict, according to Holczer, would be the integration of representatives of the race organisers, but also of the teams, into the independent license commission of the UCI. This would ensure a balance of power in the decision-making process on which teams are allowed to which races, a "mixed system" according to Holczer, who hoped that a solution satisfying all shareholders will soon be found.
"The conflict between UCI and ASO even sidelined the doping issue amongst us, team managers," the German said. "We are really fearing for the future."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split
October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'
(Additional reporting and research provided by Susan Westemeyer)