Following an interview conducted in La Provence earlier this week, UCI president Pat McQuaid clarified on Friday the governing body's position regarding the future of the ProTour series. Speaking to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes, McQuaid corrected suggestions that two rival circuits could be in place in 2007.
"There is a bit of confusion in one or two articles [since the La Provence interview] as they mention a separate circuit will be put in place," he stated. "To clarify, there is not going to be a separate circuit, there is going to be a separate world calendar. There will only be one circuit, so to speak, which will be the ProTour."
McQuaid had made the headlines in recent days when he suggested that the ongoing standoff between cycling's world governing body and the organisers of the three Grand Tours could result in the ProTour continuing without their events in 2007. When the Irishman took office two months ago he was hopeful that the fresh start would enable the difficulties surrounding the new series to be resolved, but after some initially positive discussions, the UCI was known to have been deeply frustrated by ASO's stance during the launch of the 2006 Tour de France route.
ASO and the other Grand Tour organisers have expressed their dissatisfaction with several aspects of the ProTour as it currently stands. Two of the issues thought to be concerned are the lack of a system of promotion and relegation which would enable teams to move up from cycling's first division, and also the small number of wildcard places available.
McQuaid said that the UCI is still willing to sit down and discuss the ProTour with the Grand Tour organisers, but that greater flexibility would need to be shown on their part. "They are going to have to get off the fence. At the moment they are not prepared to budge an inch," he stated, pointing out that ASO president Patrice Clerc had said at the Tour presentation that they would refuse to be part of the ProTour as it currently stands.
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