Picking the ProTour apart

The UCI ProTour is drawing to a close, with only the points from the Vuelta a España and the fall...

The UCI ProTour is drawing to a close, with only the points from the Vuelta a España and the fall Classics Paris-Tours and the Giro di Lombardia left to provide any opportunity for advancement. Danilo Di Luca has led the series since he won the Giro d'Italia, but he has by no means sewn things up. Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo breaks down the ProTour standings past, present and future.

With all of the arguments between the UCI and the Grand Tour organisers over the UCI's ProTour series, it's easy to forget that there's a title at stake that the riders actually care about. Money, respect and the chance to wear a shiny white jersey in the series' races is on the line, and even if some of the organisers refuse to hold the ProTour jersey ceremony, it's still a hotly contested series.

Current ProTour leader Danilo Di Luca is fond of that white series leader jersey, having won the inaugural ProTour in 2005. That year he bested Tom Boonen and Davide Rebellin with strong performances throughout the season. None of these three factored into the ProTour equation in 2006, as Alejandro Valverde stormed through the Ardennes Classics, taking home titles in La Flèche Wallonne and Liège - Bastogne - Liège, and then proceeding straight on through to the Vuelta a España where he took second overall.

This year, it was Di Luca's turn to dominate in the spring, and his strategy of lying low until late April and then hitting a massive peak through the Ardennes Classics and Giro d'Italia has paid off in spades. The Liquigas rider leads the ProTour standings by 51 points over his nearest competitor, Tour de France and Paris-Nice winner Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel). Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) is right on Contador's heels, just one point back after a solid early season.

To read the complete ProTour feature, click here.

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