ASO president Patrice Clerc has been one of the main figures in the ongoing stand-off between the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the three organising companies of the Grand Tours, who recently declared their independence from next year's UCI ProTour, and a desire to create a series of their own, named "Trophy of the Grand Tours".
Yet to be approved by the UCI, this project would involve a total prize fund of €2 million, with €600,000 for the winning team, and an extra €100,000 for those teams participating in all three races. Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner got hold of Patrice Clerc one week after the announcement, asking him the reasons behind the split, as well as the details of the trophy.
Cyclingnews: Can you reveal any details about the points system of the planned Trophy of the Grand Tours?
Patrice Clerc: We are currently very busy working on it, with our technical staff of the three companies. We have also created an expert panel to validate the classification, to make sure it really corresponds to the specific nature of our three competitions. As you know, these are very special because of their length and the different classifications, and we want the trophy to award the teams that animate our competitions.
Let me explain the idea: in the Grand Tours, there are stage winners and classification leaders every day, as well as teams who have defended the overall lead of one of their team mates during several days. And these teams contribute greatly to the animation of our competitions, which is why we want to reward them. I can remember teams in each of the past Grand Tours who have made considerable efforts to defend their leader's jersey throughout the race, but ended up winning very few or no points at all. So the aim of trophy is to reward the teams that contributed to the race's animation, which leads to public interest and ultimately to distribution. We are convinced that this is good for our competitions, of course, but also for the entire sport of cycling, as the trophy will give the fans and the media an additional motivation to be interested.