Grand Tours ask for more wildcards
The ProTour teams have created their own association of common interests. Just as the G14 in European soccer, 18 of the 20 ProTour teams have announced the creation of the IPCT (International Professional Cycling Team) on Saturday, April 22. Aimed at defending and promoting their interests in the sport, the IPCT will be presided by Patrick Lefévère (Quick.Step manager), Roberto Amadio (Liquigas-Bianchi) and Theo De Rooy (Rabobank). Phonak, whose sponsorship during the next few years is still uncertain, as well as Française des Jeux did not adhere to the new organisation.
Meanwhile, the organisers of the three Grand Tours have expressed their will to increase the number of wildcard entries at a meeting of the race organisers' association AIOCC on the week-end. A "minimum of four, possibly six" Second Division teams should be allowed to participate in the premium races according to the commission headed by Vuelta a España director Victor Cordero.
"It is vital for the system that it gets a breath of fresh air through wildcard invitations," said ASO's Christian Prudhomme, pointing out that this was also in the interest of the riders, whose association CPA had criticised the plans to cut down ProTour teams from 20 to 18 to allow for more invitations at its meeting on Thursday, April 20. The current compromise paper still being discussed by the UCI and the concerned parties would only allow for two to four wildcard entries.
The AIOCC also showed concern over the cancellations of several races, especially in Italy and Spain this season, which could not take place because of missing TV coverage and a less impressive participation list as a result of the ProTour. "If this goes on, we will lose more and more races," said ASO's Jean-François Pescheux.