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Planet Energy's 2010 ProTour debut in question

By:
Kirsten Frattini
Published:
November 1, 2009, 16:00,
Updated:
November 2, 2009, 15:37
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Monday, November 2, 2009
Martin Gilbert (Planet Energy) was the only domestic rider to claim a stage victory.

Martin Gilbert (Planet Energy) was the only domestic rider to claim a stage victory.

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Canadian team hoped to race new Quebec events

Canadian-Continental team Planet Energy may have been prematurely invited to compete in the two ProTour races held in Quebec next September. International Cycling Union's (UCI) ProTour regulations could leave the squad ineligible to participate in its pair of national marquee events.

The organisers secured a five year license for the two Canadian ProTour races set to start in 2010 on September 10 in Quebec City and September 12 in Montreal. Discussions between organizer Serge Arsenault and the UCI regarding the possibility of the Canadian Province of Quebec hosting two ProTour races began one year ago.

The events' locations fell in line with the UCI's recent efforts to globalize the ProTour. Australia's Tour Down Under became the first non-European event on the ProTour calendar last year.

Arsenault admitted that the UCI granted him a five-year license almost immediately, despite that fact that some promoters in Europe have been waiting for years to be eligible to organize a ProTour level event.

Arsenault named Planet Energy as one of the participating teams based on its Canadian-Continental status alongside other non-ProTour teams such as a Canadian National team, US National team and North America's only Professional Continental team, BMC Racing.

However, according to the UCI's ProTour rules, the ProTour teams are the only ones with priority for competing in UCI ProTour events.

Following those teams, Professional Continental teams with wild-card status and the host country's national team, in this case Canada, may be invited to compete in the two ProTour events. This leaves both the US National team and Planet Energy ineligible to participate.

"It's a bit of political game with the UCI," said Directeur Sportif, Steve Bauer. "What we have tried to do with the UCI is ask them to slacken the rule of strategic events on the ProTour schedule. Our markets are different then Europe and if the UCI wants to globalize the ProTour then there are no Pro-Continental teams in those other countries.

"The UCI isn't easy to change their strategies. We may not be able to compete as a Continental team, but maybe we can put the riders on the [Canadian] national team. The most important thing is that the riders will get the chance to compete."

Bauer hopes that the UCI might adjust it's ProTour rules outside of Europe to include giving the host country the opportunity to invite one or two Continental Teams. He has requested to the UCI to participate in the Biological Passport Program in 2010 which cost upwards of 60,000 Euro annually in hopes that this step would convince the UCI to allow Planet Energy to compete in the two ProTour races.

For now, the Planet Energy riders might have to earn a spot on the Canadian National team if they hope to participate.

"The National Federation has to submit a list of all Canadian riders who may be potentially selected for these two ProTour events earlier in the season so they can potentially be tested at any moment during the season," Bauer said.

"We don't have all the details about the National Team's compliance with this, but when a UCI Continental Pro Team is registered to be on the Biological Passport; every rider on the team has to report to UCI the schedule of their movements via the ADAMS [Anti-Doping Administration Management System] managed by WADA [World Anti-Doping Association]."

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