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An empty podium:
After the last ProTour race this season, the Giro di Lombardia won by Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step),...
After the last ProTour race this season, the Giro di Lombardia won by Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), race organiser RCS saw its podium remain empty. The usual presentation of the three fastest riders wasn't carried out, because the teams had decided to boycott the ceremony before the race had even started. Because 2006 ProTour winner wasn't going to be honoured in Como, all the ProTour teams showed their solidarity with Caisse d'Epargne, and thereby took the side of the UCI in the quarrel which has opposed the governing body of cycling and the organisers of the three Grand Tours for over two years now.
"The peloton is unanimous," World Champion Paolo Bettini said, reading out a teams' statement prior to the start in Mendrisio. "The ProTour exists, so the winner should be honoured. That Alejandro is at the start wearing the jersey doesn't seem to interest anyone. [Valverde and his team had threatened not to start because of the lack of a ProTour ceremony, but then still participated 'out of respect for the public' - ed.] It's right that he is here and that he is honoured. The road is not the place for political fights. If you want to do something for the sport, you have to sit down at a table and talk it over to resolve the problems."
Valverde was finally honoured on Saturday evening in the ProTour Gala, where Vittorio Adorni, President of the Council of the UCI ProTour handed the trophy over to him in the presence of the UCI president Pat McQuaid.
Eleven of the 27 ProTour races are organised by ASO, Unipublic and RCS, who would like to see the events on a separate calendar, which the UCI refused. On October 26, ASO will present the 2007 Tour de France, and probably use the gathered media attention to make known the latest developments of the - somewhat stalled - negotiations with the UCI.