By Shane Stokes
It looked dead in the water one month ago when all the teams concerned announced that they would not be looking for ProTour licences from 2009 onwards, but Monday's announcement of a new UCI World Calendar means that the series will continue. That's according to UCI President Pat McQuaid, who believes that the peace deal will restore faith in the ProTour system.
"The licences will continue, the ProTour will continue," McQuaid told Cyclingnews. "The UCI can now work to develop all the objectives [of the series] in a peaceful, serene environment, which will have no conflicting effect on the effect on the historical calendar. We can work for the benefit of those organisers and those teams which are in the ProTour.
"The objectives of the ProTour will continue, namely to bring stability, quality, good administration and things like that into the top end of cycling," he added.
Under the announced terms of the UCI World Calendar, the results of the ProTour races planned for 2009 onwards will be joined by those of the historical monuments in calculating a new ranking for individuals and teams. The latter races are those run by the Grand Tour organisers and, with all these races considered, the biggest events in cycling will be included under the same structure.
According to McQuaid - and to the UCI's statement on the developments - the deal was actually brokered with the Editions Philippe Amaury (EPA - the owner of Amaury Sport Organisation and Société du Tour de France) rather than with the organiser itself. ASO has been the biggest opponent of the ProTour system and, at the time of writing, was yet to comment and thus confirm that it would abide by the announced terms.
Many of those within the sport are waiting for ASO's response before making a judgement on how successful the new system would be, including ProTour managers such as Bob Stapleton, Hans-Michael Holczer and Gerry Van Gerwen. All three said that while they are hopeful about what is proposed, it was too soon to say that the political battle in cycling was at an end.
However McQuaid is convinced that ASO will end up backing the plan. "We dealt with EPA as it had initially made contact with the International Olympic Committee and asked that it wanted mediation," he said. "EPA owns ASO and the Société du Tour de France, so they will act under the instruction of their superiors."
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