But teams want more certainty
In a recent survey of European cycling fans, UCI's ProTour has been given the thumbs up for making cycling more attractive and the races more competitive. In June, the Sport Marketing Survey agency asked cycling fans from six different European countries (Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands) for their views on the UCI ProTour, which collects the best races on the calendar and forces the best teams to ride them, ensuring a high standard in these races.
According to the survey results, fans think that the UCI ProTour, by guaranteeing participation by the best riders in the great races, makes cycling events more attractive. They are considered to be more competitive. The characteristics commonly associated with the ProTour are "competitive", "elite", "exciting" and "world class".
A majority of cycling fans (88%) plan to follow the UCI ProTour races throughout the season, a figure that rises to 94% in Spain. The most popular riders are Lance Armstrong (USA), Tom Boonen (Bel), Alessandro Petacchi (Ita), Oscar Freire (Spa) and Jan Ullrich (Ger). However, preferences vary enormously depending on the country concerned, national heroes generally being the most popular.
Meanwhile, ANP reports that the ProTour teams want to know for certain whether the three Grand Tours will be part of the ProTour next year. Representatives from the teams informed UCI president Hein Verbruggen of their desire for certainty in Challans on Friday. "The teams want to know as quickly as possible because they want to know how to build their teams for next year," Verbruggen was quoted as saying. "Therefore I have said that the organisers of the three Grand Tours must say before the end of July whether they want to be a part of the ProTour. If not, then the requirement that the top teams have to take part in all three tours will be dropped."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split
October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'